Five Ways to Get Board Backing for Your Marketing Campaign

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by Julia Cupman

Launching a new marketing campaign can be a tough sell even before you take your ideas to an external audience. Many marketers will tell you that one of the biggest challenges they face in their role is securing buy-in—and, crucially, budget—from their own board-level stakeholders.

Part of the challenge is that marketing is nearly always a speculative endeavor, making return on investment hard to predict. That’s why it’s sometimes viewed with considerable cynicism by those from financially minded disciplines.

Particularly in the case of marketing departments at business-to-business (B2B) firms, Sales often has a much heavier influence on decision-making than Marketing, our research has found.

So how can marketers exert more influence and ensure their ideas are given due attention? The solution lies in the key skills that any good marketer will have at their disposal.

At its most basic, marketing is about understanding how to play to people’s needs and satisfy them. By applying that mentality to an internal audience, marketing teams should have more success in persuading financially minded colleagues to buy into their campaigns.

Here are five tactics that marketers can use to unlock budgets and put their plans into practice.

1. Involve them early

Marketers tend to invest a lot of time coming up with ideas before presenting to decision-makers. By that point, they can be completely absorbed in a project that may have already been through several signoff stages, making it all the more frustrating if these ideas are then by financial restrictions.

If Management were involved from the earliest possible stage, they would likely be more engaged with the presented ideas and more understanding of the merits of the campaign. More important, they’d also be able to spot any financial snags from the beginning and suggest a change of course in the initial stages.

Though getting everyone in the same room at the same time may not be easy, make sure that your time and energy are not wasted: Keep decision-makers informed from the beginning.

2. Plan meticulously

A great deal of marketing is based on inspiration, hunches, and acts of faith. Although experimentation is second nature to a marketer, it’s not natural practice for those from financial disciplines, who are likely to want to see reasoned arguments with sound planning rather than your gut instinct. Don’t assume that everyone in your organization knows the lay of the land. Set the scene and explain how a new marketing campaign will deliver results in a wider business context and why it’s important. A well-thought-out plan will help to justify necessary investment.

3. Provide get-out clauses and alternatives

Accountants love safety nets, so it’s good practice for all marketing development programs to have a cut-off point, or a get-out clause. Determine that progress will be reviewed at set points throughout the campaign and that you are open to changing tack if things aren’t going the way they should.

By dividing the budget into separate pots on either side of these review points, you can ensure the project isn’t seen as “all or nothing,” as well as making them feel as though they are in the driving seat. To add to that sense of control, marketers should offer their financial colleagues choices—in the form of either a back-up plan or some built-in flexibility to the proposal.

Options will ensure that the nerves of the most anxious finance officer are calmed, making them feel as if they will make the ultimate decision on what the budget is being spent on.

4. Predict the ROI

Whether marketing professionals like it or not, every project will be looked at with a financial appraisal in mind. Your board might be looking for a quick return, whereas you may be looking at a two- or three-year horizon for the benefits to start to appear.

Demonstrating some sort of early payback, along with your longer-term forecast, will undoubtedly help your bid. How easy it is to exhibit return on investment is dependent on the campaign, but analytics, sales figures, and social media statistics can help to back up how successful a campaign is.

Give them the information they need to make a well-thought-out decision.

5. Tell a story

You shouldn’t skimp on presentation just because you’re talking to your co-workers. Knowing how to tell a good story, and presenting it in an engaging way, is what marketers do. It’s an important part of pitching… so don’t forget that just because you are presenting in-house. Use your skills to engage, argue your case, and sell your ideas to your colleagues.