In Defending Your Budget

It’s hard to get marketing results if you don’t have a digital marketing budget. Here are three ways to position your marketing team to get the budget you need.

1. Data Matters

First and foremost, you have to track your activity so you can demonstrate what is working and what is not. Ideally, you’ll do this in ways that make sense to the folks holding the purse strings — more on that below — but at the very least, you need to demonstrate stability and growth even if you can’t tie your activity directly to revenue.

2. Track the Right Metrics

As alluded to above, there are metrics and there are metrics. Likes, follows, friends, subscribers, are all meaningful metrics in their own way, but they aren’t bottom line metrics. We refer to these metrics as process metrics and differentiate between them and the business metrics that will be of interest to those with P&L responsibilities.

In this we’ll include lead generation, lead quality and revenue attributable to your digital marketing efforts. The more top-line difference you can make — and demonstrate — the easier the decision is to continue/increase funding for your initiatives.

Don’t forget the other side of the coin, though: costs. If you can demonstrate that the leads and revenue you generate are costing the firm less than other channels and techniques, you’ll have excellent ammunition, even if yours isn’t the biggest producer of revenue.

3. Create Value with Your Digital Marketing Budget

The overall goal is to create value for your firm. Doing this requires a data-driven approach that, at its best, can stand alone as a significant source of new business for the organization.

That can be a high bar, depending on both your industry and your organization. You can still create lasting value if your initiatives have a strong positive impact on your organization’s sales team. You’re safer if you can produce revenue, but if you can produce demand that the sales team converts, your budget is safe. (And as we noted above, if you can document that the demand you produce converts more consistently than other sources, your case becomes that much stronger.)

If you find yourself lagging behind either of these benchmarks, it may be time to proactively approach the executives responsible for your budget, swallow hard, own up to your shortcomings and seek buy-in on a plan to improve performance.

That’s no easy conversation, but it certainly beats watching your department die a slow death as it is starved of the resources it needs to be anything other than a service bureau, fulfilling requests for marketing communications materials. That’s the point at which you and your team become expendable. Creating value is an imperative for relevance — and survival.

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