7 things you need to successfully pitch a marketing budget

In our previous article, we discussed how to plan out your utilisation of a marketing budget. While this article will give some practical tips on asking for a marketing budget, we recommend reading that first to get some context on this challenging task.

In this next piece, we’ll be exploring how to get internal buy-in from your company stakeholders on a budget that enables you to enrol a new strategy.

Asking for a new budget is tricky, but we’ve been down this road before and know a thing or two on how to make the best case possible. So, now that you have a plan on how to spend it, learn how to get your brand on board for a new marketing budget, here.

1. Understand wider context

Separate business departments will rarely hear of budget cuts across other aspects of the business. In larger businesses, it’s easy to assume you’re the only ones getting hit, and it’s only through corridor chats and watercooler moments that you hear otherwise. However, it’s perfectly logical that, because one aspect of a business is having its budget cut, others will be following suit.

With that in mind, it’s worth remembering the position of your marketing team within the operational hierarchy. Is marketing less of a money maker? If so, advertising, sales and recruitment teams may start to reap the rewards of diminished marketing budgets.

Perhaps the rest of the industry is failing, and their budgets too have been cut. Whatever it is, you must first have a strong grasp on why your budget is being reduced. Doing this can allow you to reason with stakeholders. It doesn’t mean you don’t defend your budget, it means you do so in the wider context of the business, not just simply because “marketers gotta market”.

It’s easy to slip into a parent / child relationship with finance, when instead you are professionals from different disciplines discussing the best use of the businesses investment for success. To this end, use a broader lens, like the marketing impact on share price, price elasticity, average order value, or customer lifetime value.

2. Show the possibilities

Use an example of a brand that has spent money on something to show a result.

The most tangible way of explaining this would be through something like PPC, which itself is a tactic associated with ongoing costs that can scale. Gather a list of advertisements created by your competitors, along with the core keywords mentioned throughout campaigns, and develop a list of cost-per-click ratings, coupled with some industry standards on conversion rates and impressions. Your agency will be doing this for you, and usually has access to the more expensive market tools such as Similarweb, which can provide deeper competitor analysis.

Doing this will provide you with a quick formula that can be used to determine how successful your competitors are, highlighting just how important it is for you to keep up. We love using Google’s Auction Insights tool to do just this – it gives a quick interpretation of your position in the CPC (cost per click) space, helping you determine just how much you’re spending in comparison to the competition.

3. Compile your numbers

This tip almost goes without saying, but if you’re pitching a counter case for a budget reduction, the number one thing you need to accurately convey your point is numbers. Think of last year’s figures, what you originally envisioned the coming year as being, and all the pivotal metrics in between such as impressions, engagement, sessions, bounce rate, etc.

Failing to bring this with you can make your argument look weak, rushed and unpolished. Remember; if there’s one thing that financial departments love, it’s numbers. Cater also for the different ways people read information – some will like a sheet of numbers, others will prefer a data visualisation. For decks, you can always put the numbers sheet in the appendix, and the chart as a quick reference point for the story you’re trying to convey..

4. Provide alternatives

If your marketing budget is directly correlated to the amount of revenue your business takes in, any sort of reduction is sure to impact profitability.

Sometimes, businesses will wish to operate their marketing activity in a much more lean manner, demanding that departments create more business, while having less resources. Obviously, this is an extremely treacherous situation for any marketer to be in, so don’t be afraid to be bold with your counter arguments.

For example, if a business wishes to grow its profits by 50% while decreasing the marketing budget by half, you could argue that the only way this can be achieved would be through doubling the price of products and services, with a 100% elasticity of demand. That obviously isn’t realistic

This is an extreme example, but it’s a clever way of arguing that marketing is more than just a “money in, money out” exercise – it’s a strategic discipline that, while it can be executed with smaller budgets, requires long-term investment for long-term benefits.

5. Avoid overblending metrics

When you’re dealing with numbers that don’t paint a pretty picture, it can be tempting to skip over the negatives and focus only on the positives. While this can be necessary sometimes, especially if the negatives only form a small part of the story, it’s important to not gloss over the bad things too much.

Doing so will run the risk of coming across as intentional obfuscation, something that your financial teams will definitely not take lightly. It also demonstrates credibility, and a willingness to continuously improve.

6. Use case studies

As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

If there’s a set of brands and competitors that you know are doing marketing well, use them to form an even stronger justification for maintaining your efforts and investments. Not to be simplistic, but there is an element of “keeping up with the Jones’” for business leaders, and shareholders, that can transcend simple financial arguments.

Be sure to select a few top performing competitors in your industry, and highlight the key differences between their approach against yours.

7. Create a burning platform

Without scaremongering, creating a burning platform is a great way of highlighting the urgency of your situation with regards to marketing budget reductions.

Spend some time analysing some market trends, economic factors and consumer behaviour over the past few years. From that, pick out any opportunities that have been missed due to a lack of resources or funding within your team. Bonus points if you can follow these points up with a competitor that has swooped in where you haven’t.

This burning platform should really highlight four things: the current situation, the expected outcomes if things were to continue, the potential resolutions, and the opportunity for improvement following said resolutions.

This need for change should serve as a strong catalyst, as it introduces an element of risk involved with a reduction in marketing budget.

Efficient marketing, from Balance

To really streamline your marketing approach, consider partnering with a specialised agency that truly understands your situation.

We at Balance know the ins and outs of financial services, leaving us much more likely to relate to your concerns and needs. If you need to create a new marketing strategy, improve your website’s SEO performance, or develop engaging, regulation-compliant content, we can help.

Contact us for a chat about your issues, and how we can help solve them.