Convincing the senior team to invest in your next digital marketing project can often feel like an uphill battle. You might recognise the impact a new web design or SEO initiative will have on the revenue of the business, but your company executives? Not so much.
This blog has a few tips to help you set up a meeting and create a presentation that will persuade your senior team to prioritise and allocate budget to your next digital marketing project.
1. Get the right people in the room
Your executive team is busy so only invite the key people you need for signoff to your meeting. This will vary for different organisations but could consist of the following:
- CEO or Managing Director
- CFO of Finance Director
- COO or Operations Director
- CRO or Sales Director
- CIO or IT Director
- CMO or Marketing Director (if that’s not you!)
Get all these bods in one room and then sell your project to them.
Not confident about winning some people over? Jon Payne, Director at Noisy Little Monkey, has a suggestion for you:
“Divide and conquer! If you’re certain the Finance Director will be clutching the purse strings rather tightly, talk to them separately so you can spend 1 on 1 time addressing concerns.”
2. Justify the investment and always bring it back to the bottom line
When you create your slide deck, remember that the C-Suite don’t need to see the nuts and bolts of your plan (though they might drill into them, so be prepared)... They simply need to know about the results you’ll deliver and how this project will impact the bottom line of the business.
Be specific about how this project will help you reach your goal faster (e.g. how many new site visitors or new leads will it generate?) but don’t fall into the trap of focusing too much on your departmental objectives. When you present your business case, you need to tie the outcomes of your project back to the wider business objectives. In most cases, this is going to be all about increasing revenue or driving efficiency.
You should be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Is this going to be profitable?
- How much more revenue could it generate?
- What are your KPIs?
- Why should we invest in this vs [a different project]?
3. Be clear on costs
In order to secure senior buy-in for your next digital marketing project, you’re going to need to justify costs and outline the expected ROI.
Some of the costs you’ll need to consider will include:
- Human resource (will you need additional support from the wider team?)
- Agency or freelancer fees/retainers
- Projected revenue
- Projected ROI
For example, the CFO or Finance Director will probably want to know:
- How much will this cost us?
- Can you achieve a similar result at a reduced cost?
- What level of spend will maximise ROI?
Jon suggests putting the costs first in your presentation. Really?! Yes, hear us out.
He says: “Tell the senior team how much the project will cost and what it’ll make. Once you’ve done that, sell them ‘the how’. This might be the creative for a campaign or an overview of a new process… Then, show them the projected results. Put them in a future state so they can truly imagine what success looks like.”
4. Educate your stakeholders during the presentation
It’s tricky to win people over when they are uneducated about the content you are presenting. Make sure you provide a foundational understanding of your topic. Say you’re requesting budget for a technical SEO project, ask questions to find out their understanding of technical SEO, and use real-world stories to support the points you are making.
If possible, can you find case study examples of where this has worked for another organisation? Or even better, one of your competitors? Use this as a way to showcase what could be achieved for your business.
5. Manage expectations
Don’t set yourself up for criticism. If your project will take X months to complete or to deliver results, make sure this is clear from the outset. Set out the project milestones when presenting so you can manage the expectations of your senior team. Your CEO probably doesn't know that a website redesign can take anything from 3 months to over a year to complete, so be clear from the off.
Pssst! If you are actually doing a website redesign project, you should check out these blogs:
6. Minimise choice
Be prepared for pushback on your request and offer your team a few different options to pick from.
Jon says: “Our brains are wired to need to compare things - and in modern times we’re wired to compare price. Inducing subtle cognitive bias in your executive team around price will help you negotiate for more budget. Here’s how: when you talk about how much things are going to cost, double (or triple, or quadruple) the amount you’re going to ask for and ask for that. While you’re explaining what that HUGE investment is going to do for the company, your executive team are thinking “Wow! That is expensive”. Now, follow up with the budget you actually want and while you’re explaining how you’ll prove a return on that investment your exec team are thinking “Well that’s not much at all”. It’s based on experiments Robert Cialdini describes in his book Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion."
7. Keep communications open
Finally, ask your senior team for feedback; get their input on anything they feel might have been overlooked or could have been done better. This opens up a two-way conversation and allows them to voice concerns they might have about the project.
If you’re successful in your bid, make sure you arrange a follow-up meeting to report on performance and provide updates. Remember what was said at the start of this blog: your senior team will want numbers so make sure you are reporting on things like ROI and revenue (or something more relevant to your specific project). We love HubSpot’s reporting function. Better yet, why not ask them what KPIs they would like you to report on at the next update?