Getting more marketing budget depends on understanding the motivations of the budget-holder. So who better than our CEO Jay Radia to explain the five key steps to convincing your boss to invest more in marketing?
I can imagine this title has got many marketers interested – not least our very own Hannah (who runs Marketing at Yieldify). It was her idea for me to write this blog post, so not sure if this is just her way of subtly hinting that she wants more budget herself…
Anyway, onto the subject at hand: every marketer wants a bigger marketing budget allocation. And looking at market trends, many of them are getting them: marketing budgets are expected to remain level or increase in 2017 – which is a great sign.
However, not all CEOs and MDs (or CFOs) instinctively ‘get it’ when it comes to marketing and that’s often little to do with any skepticism of marketing as a whole – they just have different ways of seeing things. And that’s the key to winning them over – you have to think like a CEO to get budget from a CEO.
So what are they thinking? No matter what business you’re in – whether it’s fashion, home and garden or insurance – there are generally five key things that your CEO or MD will have front-of-mind:
- Their thoughts circulate around these buckets: customers, team, product, brand, cash or growth
- They’re focusing on the long-term company goals as well as the short-term goals
- ROI is the name of the game; any investment or decision has to show return
- They’re time-poor; information always has to be delivered succinctly and quickly
- They’re eagle-eyed for any sign of time-wasting
Now you know what they’re thinking, you’re better placed to come up with an approach that pushes the right buttons. The good news is that if you’re reading this blog, you’re presumably already in place and already have some budget – that’s an indicator that your CEO understands that marketing has a place in the business. It’s now time to take our learnings and apply them.
So here are the 5 key steps to securing more marketing budget:
1. Keep it to one page
Remembering that your CEO is pressed for time and is juggling dozens of priorities, people and projects, brevity is crucial to getting heard and being understood.
One-pagers are a way of doing this that stands the test of time – if your project stretches over that, it probably needs shortening. And if you open up with a 15-slide deck, you run the risk of your CEO thinking that you’ve been spending too much time on a project rather than executing to drive results.
Here are some tips:
1. Summarise what your project is, why you think it’s important and how you plan to execute it
2. Back it up with research that focuses on examples of how this can drive ROI; these are the proof-points they’ll be looking for
3. Road-test it with other stakeholders first; you’ll be securing their buy-in at the same time as validating your assumptions.
2. Start with a face-to-face meeting
CEOs make decisions quickly: that’s their job. The upside is that if your initiative lands well, you can move fast – but the downside is that they can dismiss new ideas too quickly and scupper your proposal before you’ve had the chance to really show its value.
That’s why you should start your quest for marketing budget softly, by bringing it up in a short meeting.
Assuming that your meeting has gone well, at the end of it ask your CEO directly and confirm he’s interested in you investing more time in delivering a proposal. At this point, you should ask for clarification that there’s definitely more budget available (CEOs may have to speak to the CFO or Board, who may push back).
Don’t show your hand too quickly by sending your one-pager before you’ve had an initial discussion. Take the time to have a conversation about it first, then send your one-pager as a follow-up that incorporates any feedback you’ve had during the meeting.
3. Create a business plan
Congratulations, you’ve made it past the initial meeting!
If you’ve got the green light to pursue the proposal, now’s the time to start putting together a bigger presentation in 2-3 weeks’ time. Make sure to not leave it too long, or you may have to re-sell the idea to your CEO, who may since have moved on to the next project.
Your plan needs to take your one-pager to the next level, incorporating more data (maybe you can see a pattern here – we love numbers) and clear expectations on ROI. Here’s where you should start adding in timelines too. Timelines and expectations. Make your presentation is engaging – your CEO has shown interest – if you were a salesperson, you’d be treating this as closing.
4. Get full buy-in
Presentation ready? Good. You then need to meet your CEO and confirm the expectations of the project and its goals. By this point, you should ensure you have all other stakeholders agreed on your plan to back you up.
At this stage, you may have more than one meeting in order to deliver your presentation, take feedback and iterate. Just keep your message clear, be patient and above all, be persistent. And if you succeed, you’ll find yourself with a green-light and budget with which to carry out your project. Congratulations!
But…it’s not over yet. Strictly speaking, this step isn’t actually a part of the process of securing budget, but it’s just as important. When you’re executing, your CEO and your stakeholders will be watching, and what you deliver will have bearing on whether you get a budget in the future. So it’s time to make it happen.
While you do, make sure you’re constantly sharing your achievements and shouting about it (you’re your own best PR); and for maximum impact, keep it heavy on the metrics and demonstration of return.
If the project or initiative fails, that’s OK – it happens. Just make sure you share what you’ve learned and the next steps from the project. Marketing has many wins and many failures and that’s what makes it exciting! The only real failure is in not learning from the lesson.
Like what you see here? Visit our Resources page to read more e-books and blog posts with advice and tips for multi-tasking marketers.