Every month, we bring together B2B CMOs for in-depth “huddles” on the most pressing issues of the day. The issues right now are intense. How do you keep motivation levels high with so much uncertainty? How do you replace the leads you hoped to get from physical events that have once-again been cancelled? How do you justify your marketing budget with so much in flux on the horizon? It is this last question that yielded a powerful blueprint for just about any B2B CMO.
The process for securing a budget for marketing is as varied as the botanicals used to flavor gin (see final thoughts). Some set budgets on a project-by-project basis (this is the worst-case scenario). Other budgets are based on predetermined ratios of spending to revenue or marketing spend versus sales spend. Some have their budgets reevaluated every month (this stinks), others quarterly and still others annually. Regardless of your budgeting situation, here are five budget-securing gems:
Build Credibility First
Marketing and marketers are often viewed with skepticism by CFOs and other C-suite members. As such, it is incumbent upon a new CMO to build credibility by delivering on their initial commitments and seeking quick wins wherever they can find them. Typically, this happens by running a demand generation program that the sales team acknowledges as effective – if they don’t bless the results, then you’re back to square zero.
Get Funnel Metrics in Place
While a 100% accurate attribution model is a pipe dream (pun intended,) especially for brands selling to large enterprises, you as the marketer need to have a system in place to track the lead generation to sales process. At minimum, you should have the ability to measure “first touch” and “last touch” and have an agreement with both the CRO and CFO that these are the metrics that they too can bless. The goal here is to build some predictability into the budgeting process, such that total marketing spend translates into the desired quantity of qualified leads.
Forget About MQLs
Several CMOs have stopped reporting on marketing qualified leads (MQLs) because these can create a false sense of accomplishment within the marketing team. Instead, these CMOs are shifting the emphasis to either sales qualified leads (SQLs) or pipeline (confirmed account opportunities). These metrics ensure that the marketing team delivers predictable results AND never loses sight of the ultimate objective of their demand generating activities: to drive organizational revenue.
Align Remit with Sales
One CMO shared a hard-earned lesson from his first presentation to a board of directors. At the meeting, he extolled the incredible lead generating efforts from marketing, to which a board member responded, “if your numbers are correct, then the sales team must be screwing up because we’re not hitting our overall sales goals.” It took that CMO a long time to rebuild his relationship with the head of sales, and he vowed to never again present data without having 100% advanced agreement with sales.
Turn Experiments into Big Bets
Several CMOs shared they allocated 10-20% of their annual budget to various types of tests with the hope that one or two might be worthy of larger investments down the road. Another CMO preferred a “big bets” approach, in which the marketing organization commits to one big experiment that could result in a massive payout. The examples provided included committing to a vertical-only approach, investing in conversational marketing software, and ABM software that tracks intent signals.
Renegade Thinkers Live, our livestreaming show, features three “huddlers” every other week discussing the most pressing issues of the day. In the middle of the show, we do a gin tasting, challenging our taste buds to identify the best blend of botanicals. Like marketing, there is no perfect gin, but some efforts come pretty darn close. And to that pursuit, we say, cheers!