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10 min read

How to negotiate your marketing budget

Revenue marketing

Negotiating a budget can be stressful. Marketers need to adhere to strict budgets while prioritizing growth, all while ensuring they maintain the most cost-effective options for their company.

Every move you make, every dollar you allocate, can significantly impact your ability to reach your target audience, drive engagement, and boost your bottom line. Whether you're a seasoned marketing pro or a budding entrepreneur, negotiating your marketing budget is a skill that demands a perfect blend of data-driven insights, creative thinking, and persuasive prowess.

Imagine having the power to craft campaigns that captivate your audience, ignite conversations that spark brand loyalty, and unlock doors to new opportunities. That's precisely what a well-negotiated marketing budget can offer – a pathway to success in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

But how do you convince stakeholders to invest in your vision? How do you strike the delicate balance between ambition and fiscal responsibility?

It’s typically thought that when companies need to cut back, the marketing budget is the first to take a hit, but every good marketer knows that marketing drives long-term results, and cutting back marketing spending can cause more harm than good. 

This article will help you enter your budget negotiations in good stride: 

How do you create a marketing budget?

Creating an effective marketing budget is a crucial step in ensuring that your marketing efforts are aligned with your business goals and that your resources are allocated strategically. 

Here's a step-by-step approach to creating a comprehensive marketing budget:

Identify and set your marketing goals

Before you can determine your marketing budget, you need to clearly define your marketing goals and objectives. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

Examples of marketing goals could include increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales of a specific product or service.

Conduct market research: Your target audience and your competition 

Conduct thorough market research to gain insights into your target audience, their preferences, and behavior. Develop detailed buyer personas to better understand their needs, pain points, and decision-making processes. 

Additionally, analyze your competitors' marketing strategies – utilize SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to identify opportunities to differentiate your offerings. 

Know your buyer's journey

Map out the entire buyer's journey, from awareness to consideration, decision, and loyalty. Understanding the different stages of the journey will help you allocate your marketing budget effectively across various channels and tactics to engage with your audience at each stage.

Remember where your priorities lie

Prioritize your marketing initiatives based on their potential impact on your goals and objectives. Allocate a larger portion of your budget to the tactics and channels that are most likely to drive desired results, while still maintaining a diversified approach.

Choose your marketing channels

Based on your target audience, buyer personas, and marketing goals, select the most appropriate marketing channels to reach and engage with your audience. These channels could include social media, email marketing, content marketing, paid advertising, events, and more.

Which channels should you focus on for ABM?
Investing time and money into channels where your target audiences don’t reside is a surefire way to remain invisible and lose ROI.

Estimate marketing costs

Research and estimate the costs associated with each marketing channel and tactic you plan to employ. Consider expenses such as advertising spend, content creation, website development, event participation, and any necessary tools or software.

Prepare to measure ROI

Determine the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure the success of your marketing efforts and calculate the return on investment (ROI). This’ll help you justify your marketing budget and make data-driven decisions for future optimization.

Optimize your efforts

Continuously monitor and analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns and activities. Use the insights gained to optimize your strategies, reallocate resources as needed, and make informed decisions about future marketing investments.

Common marketing budget mistakes

While creating and managing a marketing budget can be challenging, there are several common mistakes that businesses should be aware of and try to avoid:

  • Underestimating the costs: Marketing efforts often require more resources than initially anticipated, and failing to account for all associated costs can lead to budget shortfalls and compromised campaigns.

  • Neglecting to align with overall business goals: A marketing budget that isn’t aligned with the company's broader business objectives and strategies can result in misaligned efforts and wasted resources.

  • Failing to prioritize: Attempting to invest in too many marketing channels or tactics without clear prioritization can lead to a diluted impact and inefficient use of resources.

  • Ignoring market trends and changes: Neglecting to monitor and adapt to shifts in market conditions, consumer behavior, and emerging trends can render your marketing efforts ineffective and outdated.

  • Lack of tracking and measurement: Failing to establish clear metrics and KPIs makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and optimize your budget accordingly.

  • Inflexibility: A rigid marketing budget that doesn’t allow for adjustments and optimizations based on performance data and market dynamics can hinder your ability to maximize the impact of your marketing efforts.

By being aware of these common pitfalls and implementing best practices in budgeting, monitoring, and optimization, businesses can ensure that their marketing budget is utilized effectively and efficiently.

Top 3 mistakes companies make with OKRs
OKRs, like any strategic framework, are no silver bullet for organizational excellence. However, when applied correctly, they can be a valuable tool to empower your team to do their best work.

Tracking the competition to inform your marketing budget

Keeping a close eye on the competition can give you an edge. We’re not talking about increasing your spending when they do, or cutting back when that’s what’s trending, quite the opposite.

When a competitor cuts back, it creates more space for you and your marketing message. It’s a huge opportunity for you to grow and make connections, taking up more of that market share that they’ve abandoned. As companies go dark during troubling times, that same ad spend at your company suddenly delivers a significantly better share of voice.

Need proof? Consider P&G during the rocky year that was 2020, and how they increased their ad spend when others were pulling back and saw their revenue surge.

Understanding how your competitors allocate their resources and the tactics they employ will help you make more informed choices about where to invest your marketing dollars.

Here are some ways to track your competition and leverage that information for your marketing budget:

Monitor their marketing campaigns

Pay attention to the marketing campaigns and initiatives your competitors are running, including their messaging, channels, and target audiences. This can help you identify areas where you may need to increase your own efforts or adjust your approach.

Analyze competitors’ digital presence

Evaluate your competitors' websites, social media profiles, and online advertising campaigns. This can provide insights into their digital marketing strategies and help you determine where you need to allocate resources to remain competitive.

Attend industry events

Attending trade shows, conferences, and other industry events can offer opportunities to observe your competitors' presence, messaging, and engagement with potential customers.

Conduct competitive analysis

Regularly conduct in-depth competitive analyses to understand your competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning. This information can help you identify areas where you need to invest more or capitalize on gaps in their offerings.

Leverage market research

Utilize market research reports, industry publications, and other relevant data sources to gain insights into your competitors' market share, pricing strategies, and overall performance.

By continuously tracking and analyzing your competitors' marketing efforts, you can make more informed decisions about your own marketing budget allocation. This can help you identify areas where you need to invest more heavily, adjust your tactics, or potentially reallocate resources to gain a competitive edge.

Setting measurable goals to justify your marketing budget

You’ll have a much easier job of justifying your marketing budget when you have measurable marketing goals. 

To do this, you need to determine what the company’s overarching objectives are, so you can narrow down and help develop strategies that allow you to reach these goals.

Examples of marketing goals:

  • Double the number of leads
  • Generate more revenue
  • Generate more social media followers
  • Shorten the sales cycle

To set measurable marketing goals, you first need to identify where the company’s weaknesses are and prioritize the ones that would make the biggest difference to the organization. Break down the steps to achieving these goals over the long term, with smaller measurable steps that your marketing team can measure and document success. 

Identify specific KPIs that will help you track progress toward your goals. These could include metrics like website visits, lead conversions, social media engagement, email open rates, and sales revenue.

RMA Sales and marketing alignment playbook

Before implementing your marketing campaigns, collect baseline data for your chosen KPIs. This will provide a reference point against which you can measure your progress and calculate the impact of your marketing efforts.

Set achievable targets for your KPIs based on your baseline data and industry benchmarks. These targets should be challenging yet realistic, taking into account your available resources and budget.

Your C-suite execs will need real-time access to how marketing and sales are contributing to the pipeline. Having this kind of report available, setting measurable goals, and consistently tracking and analyzing your performance, will mean marketing’s contribution can be observed, putting you in a better position to negotiate a budget.

5 steps for negotiating your marketing budget

Negotiating your marketing budget can be a challenging process: You need to balance the organization's financial constraints with the necessary resources to execute effective marketing strategies. 

Before you can get your budget, you need to enter negotiations. The more you take charge and demonstrate what you can do with the budget you’re asking for, the better position you’ll be in to get the figure you want.

1) Plan early

Get involved in the planning process as early as possible. You need to be there right at the start to demonstrate the value that marketing can provide with the right funds, so start the budgeting process well in advance to allow sufficient time for research, analysis, and preparation. 

Gather data on past marketing performance, industry benchmarks, and future projections to build a solid case for your budget request. Make sure you understand the state of revenue at your organization and what the plans are for the company and craft your marketing plans to support each one.

2) Demonstrate efficiency

It can be a hard sell asking for a big chunk of the budget if you can’t prove you’re worth it. You need to show that your team is actually becoming more efficient over time, being able to do more with less. 

Highlight the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Show how your team has optimized processes, leveraged technology, and implemented cost-saving measures to maximize the impact of the current budget. Demonstrate how you’re doing this on a cost/lead and cost/opportunity basis, and you’ll have a much easier sell.

3) Get sales involved

Sales will want to get as much as they can from marketing, so they’re incentivized to help you get what you need. They should be involved in the marketing plan from day one – that way you can go to your CEO and present a united front. 

Their input and support can help demonstrate the direct impact of marketing efforts on revenue generation and customer acquisition, strengthening your case for an adequate budget. If sales can fight your corner and explain they need more from marketing and you’ve got a foolproof plan for achieving this, your boss is much more likely to get on board.

4) Cost-benefit analysis

No matter how great you and your team are, the only thing that matters in a negotiation is data, and you should use it to your advantage.

Present a detailed cost-benefit analysis that illustrates the potential ROI of your proposed marketing initiatives. Use data-driven projections – get the numbers organized and show exactly how you’re benefiting the bottom line and how your team could achieve even more with the budget you’re asking for.

It’s likely you won’t get everything you’re asking for, so make sure you know where you can be the most flexible and where you won’t compromise. If you have to make concessions for a smaller budget, you can at least negotiate away the least critical elements of the marketing plan and still walk away with all the crucial pieces you need.

5) Deliver on your promises

Finally, the big one. To get a bigger budget you need to earn the trust that you’ll spend those funds wisely. You only earn trust by saying what you’re going to do and following through consistently. 

If you successfully secured the requested budget in the past, don’t hesitate to showcase the results achieved and how you delivered on your promises. Demonstrating a track record of successful execution and measurable outcomes can build trust and support for future budget requests.

Whether or not you’ve successfully got the budget requested in the past, create a realistic plan and ensure you’re hitting your targets each month and each quarter. If you’ve been doing that already, you can bring those figures to the negotiations and demonstrate your reliability.

Remember, negotiating a marketing budget isn’t just about asking for more money; it's about presenting a compelling case that aligns your marketing efforts with the organization's overall goals and demonstrating the value and ROI of your proposed initiatives. 

Final thoughts

When negotiating a better budget for your marketing team, the best you can do is ensure you have the tools you need to get the job done. Prepare thoroughly and ensure you have the data to back yourself up. Enter that conference room with confidence and aim for a mutually beneficial outcome for all involved.

Remember, every dollar invested in marketing is an opportunity to forge deeper connections with your audience, amplify your brand's voice, and drive tangible results. Embrace the challenge, stay agile, and never underestimate the power of a well-crafted, data-driven pitch.

Now's your chance to influence the most important conversations in revenue marketing

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This post was a collaboration between

Hannah Wesson, Stevie Langford

  • Hannah Wesson

    Hannah Wesson

    Hannah has worked in content marketing since graduating and has a wealth of experience writing for a wide range of B2B and B2C companies.

    More posts by Hannah Wesson.

    Hannah Wesson
  • Stevie Langford

    Stevie Langford

    As a Senior Copywriter here at Revenue Marketing Alliance, Stevie loves to create content that's captivating, compelling, and informative. She's always open to new ideas, so feel free to get in touch!

    More posts by Stevie Langford.

    Stevie Langford
How to negotiate your marketing budget