5 Tips on Building Your Business Case for a Bigger Marketing Budget

Build your case for a bigger marketing budget

“We want you to grow the business 15%—but no, we haven’t increased your marketing budget.”

You’re a marketer, so you’ve likely found yourself in a similar situation, facing an aggressive growth goal with an unrealistic marketing budget and a “make it happen” mandate.

You know that in order to move the needle, you need a budget that will support real growth. So shouldn’t your budget increase proportionately to growth expectations? Yes, it should. But it hasn’t. Why? Because you don’t deserve it. It’s simple: you haven’t yet made a strong business case to justify additional funds. Follow these five tips to get the budget you need to make growth happen.

Analyze past marketing performance

To get a bigger marketing budget, you must show that last year’s marketing efforts produced results—and have hard data to prove it.

Begin by thinking like the C-suite. ROI is their motivator, so look back at last year’s marketing and break out the ROI for each key program. If you have concrete data, use it. If not, pursue informal sources of information, such as the impact on the number of leads, sign-ups, traffic, impressions, downloads and other key metrics. Your sales team and data analysts could be helpful resources.

Learn from your mistakes. Cut anything that didn’t meet your ROI expectations. If you think underlying factors were undermining success, however, take note of how you can improve results next time.

Find your funding in other departments

The dollars are there, but they’re hidden. Your job is to find them and rationalize why they should be yours.

Marketing touches every part of your organization. Think about it. Marketing and IT work together on web initiatives. Marketing teams up with procurement to source vendors. And the sales team uses the tools marketing creates (well, you hope so, at least). Despite all this overlap and collaboration, budgets aren’t shared. But they could be—you just have to make the argument for why the funds should be shifted into your budget.

For example, data used to be IT’s thing. Now, marketing harnesses data to drive its programs. Therefore, you could make the case that the dollars to manage the data should belong to marketing, too. A more tactical example is an interactive sales presentation. Converting from paper-based marketing to digital tools will save money in the long-run. So couldn’t some procurement money for printing be reallocated to create this tool?

This is how you have to think. Connect the dots for the C-suite, maybe use a little razzle dazzle and rationalize why the funds should be yours.

Fuel competitive rivalry

Compare your marketing efforts against your competitors to show higher-ups the risk of not budgeting enough.

Start by selecting the three competitors you encounter most in the field—the ones the C-suite wants to beat the most or the rivals that cause the most frustration. Analyze each competitor’s marketing with these questions in mind:

What are they doing better?
Where can you beat them?
Are you missing tactics that are table stakes?
What is their estimated spend on each tactic?

Don’t forget to tap into your sales team for intel on what tools your competitors are using and how prospects react to them.

Play on the C-suite’s competitive instincts and frame up an “us versus them” situation that fuels their passion to win. Use your new insights to strengthen your case. Explain that if you want to one-up the competition and steal market share, you can’t just match their efforts, you have to do more—and you’re going to need the budget to do it.

Integrate new technologies to strengthen your marketing approach

Change the conversation from dollars and cents to how new technologies will help you achieve your aggressive growth goals.

If you’re tasked with producing better results, you need to do new things—and new things cost money. The people holding the purse strings just need to understand how these potentially unfamiliar marketing tactics and technologies will deliver the results they seek. Explain how they’ll drive deeper customer–brand connections, reach new audiences or strengthen sales outreach—all goals the C-suite can appreciate.

Devise your game plan and sell it!

When it’s proposal time, confidently draw up plans and be ready to negotiate for a practical budget.

The best strategy? Be aspirational! Ask for everything you wish you could have—and remember to reinforce how it will help you achieve your goals. You likely won’t get it all, but you might get more than you otherwise would have. Know beforehand what you’re willing to sacrifice or scale back.

All of your research and preparation will go a long way in your proposal. By explaining past successes and failures, setting up the current situation and showing how your new strategy will help achieve desired growth, you can build a stronger case for your request and—fingers crossed!—earn yourself that larger marketing budget.

Download a worksheet to help you plan your spending and compare your marketing against your competitors’ efforts.

About Jim MacLachlan

Tartan Marketing president, Jim MacLachlan, has more than 20 years of experience in marketing management, sales segmentation and strategic selling.

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