10 tactics to get board buy-in for more marketing budget
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
When you're a B2B marketer and December hits, there are 101 things to think about before you even get as far as Christmas shopping – and the one that probably takes precedence is: how can you hang onto your budget, and ideally bump it up, for the coming year? If you've got big plans that need C-Suite support, here are 10 tactics to get board buy-in for more marketing budget...
1. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
Your boardroom might not be Dragon's Den, but remember all the times you've cringed when you've watched a TV pitch fall apart as soon as the figures get scrutinised (it usually starts "I'd like £3million for a 5% share in my dog-lead sanitising business..." and goes downhill rapidly from there). Be thorough, be honest and don't give your Finance Director the opportunity to tapdance all over your request. Don't stop at saying what you want and why – explain what the financial consequences of not implementing your plan could be in missed opportunities.
2. THINK Profit Centre, not cost centre
It's frustrating to think that Sales is getting all the glory when business is good, while Marketing can be seen as a team that eats budget. Challenge that perception. Look at how you report; are you able to trace when and how leads are handed off from Marketing to Sales and attribute the account wins where you've nurtured leads down the funnel? If you can't take any credit, maybe it's time to get a better system – are you using the software you already have to its full potential? Consider whether you need a new CRM platform that will give you better visibility and work that into your budget. Putting performance under the microscope might seem like a scary prospect but, in the long run, it'll make the Marketing function far more credible.
3. SHOW ROI – and MORE
Make sure that you demonstrate the value of what your team's delivered. Without some really solid figures showing ROI, you'll be on shaky ground in demanding more money. There is a proviso, though. Not all of your projects will be at a point where you can fully assess how they've performed. You must showcase the lead generation numbers well, but be prepared to think about other benefits, too, such as successful product launches, brand sentiment and, next on the list...
With some great tech around giving you the ability to show off the science of marketing, it's very tempting to wrap absolutely everything up in numbers. Be careful not to overlook the importance of emotion in how your customers make decisions. Creativity is what helps your brand to innovate and resonate, after all. Ultimately, emotion is what converts a prospect into a lead into a sale. How can you demonstrate that you have your collective finger on the pulse of your industry and show your board that you're generating exciting approaches to communicate how you solve your customers' pain points? Show off qualitative as well as quantitive customer feedback that proves people feel the right way about your brand.
5. Speak the right language
Part of positioning Marketing as a discipline that warrants board support is understanding how to frame your argument. So, yes, talk about ROI, show that you understand the challenges facing the business, make it clear that Marketing is fully aligned with Sales (if it isn't, talk about how you intend to build bridges to work more closely) and, finally, attach your KPIs to the sales cycle. If you're more of a creative marketer, brush up on how to present yourself as someone who's also commercially capable, research-driven and knows their numbers.
6. RESEARCH YOUR AUdience
How well do you know your board members? What did they do before? Don't assume that everyone is anti-marketing – while over half of CEOs come from financial backgrounds, there's a chance that you'll find an ally somewhere on the board, whether that be a strong leader or someone who's spent time in a marketing department earlier in their career. Think 'divide and conquer': talk to each member to understand who has a good grasp of marketing and who'll need a more accessible explanation – this will also give you a greater insight into likely potential concerns so you can be ready to field questions with tailored answers.
7. Get Your Timing Right
It's far easier to win more budget when things are going well and you can scale your successes. So be realistic: if the business is going through hard times, it may not be feasible for your budget to increase. Reset your compass if this is the case. Your gambit should shift to preventing your budget from going down if things are tough. Set out your plans clearly to show where the money will be going and how your plans will add value, then keep an eye on KPIs throughout the year so you can ask for more budget based on the bottom-line benefits next time round.
8. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY
Treat making a case for more budget just as you would an external pitch rather than just another emailed report or one-to-one. Ask for the opportunity to present to the entire board to run through why you want additional budget and how that will add value, based on sensible forecasting. Prepare an engaging, visual presentation and rehearse it well so that you can compensate for any nerves by being word perfect.
9. be Agile
There's always an element of trial and error with marketing and it's important to embrace managed risks within your plans, using the whole marketing mix. For instance, you should be split testing digital campaigns where you can, and scaling successes accordingly. That might make it slightly more challenging to win budget, so think about providing similar worked examples to inspire confidence and justify the budget.
10. MAKE sure You've Spent this YEar's Budget
Nothing will blow a hole in your argument for a bigger budget more quickly than having failed to spend all of this year's funds. If you've still got money sloshing around, get it gone quickly – you can find some ideas on that in our blog 9 Agile Ways to Use Up Spare Marketing Budget Before Year-End!
If you can produce inarguable figures on ROI, generate emotional excitement from your board through completed campaigns' creativity and present an innovative plan for the coming year, you'll be in pole position to make the case for more budget to continue differentiating your business from the competition.