Why Compliance Needs Marketing

How to increase budgets and deepen impact by aligning with your marketing department.

One of the most frequently visited topics in the compliance space is how to build, and defend, the case for compliance resources. It’s an agenda item or topic of focus in nearly every conference, webinar list. or resource library out there.


Here are some titles we’ve noticed:

How to Do More With Less
The ROI of Compliance
Effective Compliance on a Budget
Building the Business Case for Compliance

A less frequently explored topic  is how to effectively build and leverage relationships with other business units as a way to increase the impact of compliance. In other words, what other organizational resources can you tap into and leverage to help you build your program?


Most importantly, what are the benefits, values, and challenges of doing so?

Marketing & Compliance: Powerful Allies

There are the usual suspects of other departments that compliance can and should work closely with: legal, HR and audit, to name a few. But as a marketer, I’d tell you that there’s a great deal of untapped opportunity in building a relationship with your marketing leadership.

According to PwC’s State of Compliance Survey, only about 20% of companies have sales and marketing representatives on their compliance committee. Whether you give them a formal spot on the compliance committee, or you develop a more informal professional relationship with your marketing leaders, there are a few advantages of building a bridge with this team.

#1: How It Secures More Money for Compliance

There’s usually a considerable disparity in year-over-year budget increases for compliance versus marketing. PwC’s Survey told us that 44% of respondents reported flat or decreased budgets. On the other hand, 63% of marketers saw their budgets increase in 2015.


So while compliance budgets tend to be stable or shrinking, marketing budgets are increasing.


It stands to reason that compliance budget growth should in-part be justified by marketing and sales expansion. Logic would tell you that increased marketing investment = more sales, which brings in more customers, which in turn creates more brand exposure and reputational liability—which means you’ll have more to lose if and when a compliance breakdown occurs.


In other words, increased business means increased risk and need for proactive compliance.


This is to say nothing of the geographic expansion and greater number of employees that also typically accompany business growth—and also typically increase the likelihood and impact of increasingly severe compliance risks.

#2: Speak More Like a Marketer

Marketing usually owns about 10% of a firm’s budget. At a minimum, it’s a sign that marketing has learned how to secure buy-in and resources from senior leadership and the board. With compliance being a relatively new presence within the executive suite (less than 15 year old), why not take cues from some of the lessons learned from other units like marketing?

What’s worked for them is the kinds of plans, results, and ROI are most important to your organization’s bottom line. The question for you is how can you best apply these to your compliance efforts? What are the cultural and organizational nuances that act as barriers or accelerators to getting things done on a global scale?

# 3: Grow as Marketing Grows

Research has shown that more than half of CEOs are entering or considering entering new sectors. As the profile of marketing departments has risen in recent years, they’re increasingly responsible for driving customer relationships and growth.

If you’re not part of these strategic conversations already, your counterpart in marketing can help loop you in and share key developments, which might include:

  • Sales and marketing practices that might cross your comfort level with respect to your established risk appetite;
  • Go-to-market strategies for new markets/products/customer segments that could mean major changes to your risk profile; and
  • Market and product expansions that warrant changes to your training, policies and procedures. It might also mean a new need for translated materials, new hotline numbers or local resources.

This information sharing could help you prioritize your future initiatives and take a more proactive approach to organizational changes — instead of playing catch-up later.

#4: Lean on Marketing’s Strengths

Enlist the marketing team to help with what they’re good at: copywriting, campaign distribution, branding, innovative training, and communication strategies. They can help your initiatives sound more alive and less corporate, which will driver greater compliance and visibility.


But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: you can not only increase your own operational efficiency, but more importantly, can drive the reach, impact, and overall effectiveness of their initiatives and communications.


There’s also a solid chance that you can avoid replicating efforts by utilizing templates they’ve already created. An added bonus: they’ll help liven up and veer away from the legalese to help make sure employees understand, embrace and apply key compliance tenets.

#5: Adopt Effective Metrics and Benchmarks

By virtue of being a more visible and established business function, most marketers will have a firm grasp of performance metrics and benchmarks. Taking a cue from the marketing team can maximize your impact and boost your efficiency by limiting your focus to proven performers.


This will help you more accurately set expectations on the front end and measure success on the back. More importantly, it’ll help you plan better. For example, marketing might be able to tell you more about:

  • Employee behavior: The team will have insight into metrics like open rates, click rates and time spent browsing on pages.
  • Communications: The best days and times to send communications to specific employee groups to increase engagement rates.
  • Channels: What types of communications perform best across different employee groups and cultures, inclusive of in-person delivery, corporate intranet, online training, email, instant message, social media channels and more.

Compliance + Marketing = More Company Wins

Compliance grew out of legal, which was always an historically isolated part of a business. Corporations and large private companies went to the legal department after deals were signed or when lawsuits came, but otherwise didn’t integrate them into the company’s day-to-day operations.

This culture of isolation is changing in the most dynamic and forward-looking compliance department. When compliance and marketing truly become friends with benefits, the entire company ends up winning.

Convercent offers comprehensive and integrated compliance management, reporting, and analytics for compliance departments who want to become best-in-breed.