Is Your Marketing Budget Under Threat? Here's What to Tell Stakeholders

Marketing is chronically underappreciated.

Only about half of CEOs think highly of their CMOs’ effectiveness (according to Deloitte research), making marketing departments more likely to suffer budget cuts than their counterparts.

During downturns or crises (oh, hi, pandemic), budgets are even shakier: 90% of marketers have reported having their budgets delayed or submitted to review and more than half of global brands halted ad spend for the next few months (according to Marketing Week and World Federation of Advertisers research, respectively).

Even in normal times, budgets come under fire quarterly and yearly. As marketers, it might feel like we’re being forced to prove our worth.

Here are three great ways to communicate our value — and ensure our organizations’ success:

Be a partner to all. Marketing sits at the intersection of customer and content, and from that vantage point, you can support the whole organization. Why not offer your team’s brainpower to help other departments?



If customer service representatives need to increase net promoter scores, can you develop a retention or upsell campaign to help them? If operations wants to cut expenses in presentation, can you introduce creative partners or new production teams? If finance is rolling out a new comp plan for sales, can you build an internal campaign to get them on board?

My favorite goal-setting framework is OKRs (or objectives and key results) because these really ambitious goals have the power to unite departments. I love it when my teams are getting pulled into other meetings to add perspective.

OKRs are also morale boosters: When teams feel like they’re part of a moonshot effort, they learn to prioritize work and accomplish more than they imagined.

Remember that data plus story equals buy-in. When pitching to stakeholders, use stats to present evidence and storytelling to present motives. The stats are the “what,” and the story is the “why.” Stakeholders are dreamers, too; if you can speak compellingly to their aspirations, you’ll gain their trust.

Buy-in also requires collaboration, so don’t give it all away upfront. Give decision makers a solid, irrefutable framework, and let the insides take shape as you work together. Don’t pitch at them — pitch with them.

Be the best sport in the organization. Even if you successfully prove your value, this uncertain period will bring cuts.

Be sure to stay positive and respond to bad news with solutions. They’re demanding you accomplish more with fewer resources? Ask yourself, “How can I do more with less?” Adapt your strategies to the new reality. Become ruthless about analytics, see where you’re getting through to people, and double down on those channels. To inspire trust, take good care of the little money you have.

Marketers’ unique value proposition is creativity. Use it to find ways to expand your omnichannel expertise across departments and tell the stories that connect with stakeholders. Combined with your optimistic response to challenges, these approaches will solidify you as a valuable team player who can drive the growth that will rescue your business during crises.

1 comment about "Is Your Marketing Budget Under Threat? Here's What to Tell Stakeholders".
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  1. Tom Baer from TBI, September 24, 2020 at 1:19 p.m.

    Sorry, but this article falls flat.  The people respoonsible for budgets are bottom line people.  You need to prove marketing's worth to them by showing that your efforts are working and increasing sales.  Staying postivie and offering help to other departments may be nice, but won't help where you need it.

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