Through Akero EA, we know what the conversion rates of certain campaigns and activities are, and we know how much an enrolled student costs - as always, it is so important to track true ROI. From there, clients can come to us with their student enrolment targets and budget, and together, we work out where to make changes and how to grow. This approach has proven popular as curriculums shift towards online learning, providing scalability through tracking the current cost of acquisition and creating an optimum model that will yield the best ROI.
The stand out benefit of implementing zero-based budgeting? You’ll be speaking the language of your Chief Finance Officer. In reality, marketing phrases like “build your brand presence”, “increase your market share” and “position yourself as a thought leader” only impress those in the marketing department. With a zero-based budget, you’re arming yourself with the ability to demonstrate the profitability of your marketing efforts with demonstrable return. You’re justifying “brand building” or content marketing in a language your Finance Director will hear.
But before you jump in...
A couple of things to consider when implementing zero-based budgeting:
1. It takes time to build the infrastructure
You need the correct advertising infrastructure in place to know your cost per application, cost per enrolment, the ability to track every student from click through to enrolment and have a total view of all your marketing efforts. Then you can accurately forecast.
Changing your budgeting method requires organisation-level change and open-mindedness. Be prepared to have the hard discussions of what is justifiable and what is no longer; challenge the perceptions.
2. Think long-term
As you will have to justify and argue for every item on your budget, you will also have to, naturally, forecast the return on investment. But remember, when working within an education cycle, you’ll need to focus on (and present to your Finance Director) your delayed return on investment.
For example, you would like X amount of money to invest in digital advertising, in order to bring in X amount of enrolled students. But work you are doing in November may not come into fruition until the following September. So working on monthly budgets and quick-turnaround results may not be the most effective way to implement this type of budgeting. Think long term, and as long as you plan, communicate and justify your ROI and timescales, there’s a real opportunity in using the zero-based budgeting method.