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October 21, 2020
By Julia Bye
Getting buy-in from the leadership team for your marketing spend can be a daunting task, especially when marketing has traditionally had a reputation of contributing little to the overall revenue goals of a business.
In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, only 27 percent of all chief marketing officers feel they demonstrate a financial impact “extremely well” for their organization. While it might have been true that marketers couldn’t effectively demonstrate their financial impact 50 years ago, marketers today can arm themselves with the tools and data to prove value to key decision-makers and successfully present a strong marketing spend pitch.
To create a marketing spend pitch that leaves the leadership team feeling excited and inspired, include these essential elements:
First of all, if you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk Start with Why, stop right now and watch it:
This is not a new video or concept, but it rings so true as to how marketers need to position themselves to their leadership team to get the buy-in and budget needed for their efforts.
In this video, Simon talks about how too often, when we are presenting something, we start with “what” or “how.” We naturally gravitate towards what we need to do or how we are going to do it, but the “why” is the most important component—and the one that leadership needs to hear about.
Your marketing “why” could be that you believe that your company is innovating something no one else has or is shifting a way of thinking or doing for your industry. You want to use your marketing efforts to show that there is a different way to do something or to share an inspiring story versus talking about how great your product or service is. This is something that both your leadership team and your customers will ultimately care about.
So before you start talking about how or what you are going to spend your marketing budget on, start with why it is important.
As a marketer, it’s easy to get into the weeds with the metrics you are presenting. After all, you spent hours in a black hole digging to the bottom of your marketing data. However, leadership is busy—they also look at data for the whole company and not just the marketing department. With that in mind, you want to arm yourself with the metrics they care about.
The metrics your CEO or leadership team likely care most about are revenue and cost per lead. You will want to share how many anticipated leads you will get from your marketing spend and how much each lead will cost. This will help them understand why your strategies are worth the investment.
Remember, you should adjust your metrics to the tactics and data you are pitching. Other important metrics could be:
One of the hardest aspects of marketing is to predict when your organization will see results. You can (and should) look at industry trends and historical data, but you can never be 100 percent sure of how and when your efforts will ultimately show results. This is why you need to align leadership’s expectations with realistic timelines.
For instance, if you are going to grow the number of sales-qualified leads by 20 percent, you likely are going to need more than a week to execute. Based on the metrics and tactics you provided, share a reasonable timeline for when the leadership team can expect to see results. Paint a picture of how you will use your marketing spend to contribute to the long-term goals of the organization. Also, communicate how you plan to share updates of your progress with the team.
When you have the data and preparation completed for a big meeting, whether it is a marketing spend pitch or annual shareholder meeting, you can walk into that conference room with the confidence to keep the crowd’s attention and leave them feeling inspired.
About the author
Julia Bye is a Minneapolis-based Director, Client Strategy for SmartBug Media. With a background in agency marketing, she specializes in lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement, and content-based tactics that focus on her client's sales and marketing goals. Read more articles by Julia Bye.