Sell Marketing Spend to Your CEO with Marketing Automation & Aligned Goals

I was recently asked by the CMO of a medium sized business, “How do I sell xx amount of marketing spend to my CEO?” The question came in front of a group of more than 50 marketers and the sentiment in the room was clear — many in the room wanted (maybe needed) the answer to just this question.

CEOs want to be able to predict outcomes for each level of spending. Marketing spend needs to be presented as an investment and a contribution to brand image and corporate values.

I believe marketing has two very distinct sides. The first side is what most people think of when they think of marketing. It is the imagery, the words, the stories, the brand… it’s creative. By nature, the creative side of marketing is more about emotion than analytics.

The second side of marketing is the data, facts, and figures that tell a story of their own… it’s math. By nature, the math side of marketing is all about measurement and analysis.

Traditionally, large, creative agencies charged millions of dollars to build and deliver creative marketing and discussed their results in what boiled down to a single metric: impressions.

Impressions is an imperfect measurement (a guess or estimate) of how many people in a given demographic were exposed to your creative. Recently, those agencies have expanded their language to include words such as likes, links, tweets, etc., which they package as a second metric called engagement. Engagement is a little better than impressions as a measurement, but is still a pretty loose measure of how much time and energy those impressions are spending with your creative.

CEOs like stories and graphs. A good, creative story and a graph that shows impressions and engagement going up and to the right is a good way to start. However, the emotion will fade in short order and the CEO will crave data that shows the real ROI of a marketing investment. That is when the math side of marketing becomes critical.

So, when I was asked how to sell marketing spend to the CEO, I responded by saying, “Win their emotions with stories and back up your stories with ROI data (math).” Very few corporate budgets have room for emotion, only marketing. CEOs want to see the whole picture:

• How impressions and engagement became contacts.
• How contacts became leads.
• How leads became opportunities.
• How opportunities became customers.

This is the full funnel. Each of those steps has a story and a set of data behind it. When a CMO can articulate marketing spend in terms of how creative marketing flows down the funnel to become revenue, showing the math behind each step and the ROI of the whole process, the CEO will listen. Turn marketing spend into a data driven business case with a great story to tee it up. That is how you sell marketing spend to a CEO.

With marketing automation, based on these results, you can see an increase in sales, revenue, and better lead generation efforts. A more connected and aligned marketing and sales strategy promotes a better, and overall cohesive, message. Consider the following statistics from Demand Metric Research Corporation’s 2013 Sales & Marketing Alignment report:

• 89 percent or more of the firms who report getting most or all the benefits from their marketing systems achieved their revenue goals.
• 100 percent of respondents that reported getting all the benefits of their sales systems achieved their revenue goals.
• 70 percent of organizations are using sales technology such as CRM systems, while only 42 percent are using technology such as Marketing Automation systems.

Based on these statistics, we see that marketing tools, such as marketing automation software, working to increase cooperation and form unified goals within each department. Unified goals between Sales and Marketing suggest that they worked together to define (and abide by) set rules and structures. Based on Demand Metrics reporting, complete alignment of sales and marketing goals is related to the highest revenue achievement, but even partial alignment is better than none at all.

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