Last week, Mezzanine held its first ever "marketing speed dating" session. It was a huge success, with B2B execs from companies across the GTA taking part in the opportunity to pick the brain of an experienced B2B marketer.
About 20 companies ('participants') were paired up with six Mezzanine marketing directors ('experts'). Each date lasted 15-20 minutes and the participants ranged from heads of tech start-ups to marketing leaders of companies with 200+ employees. They asked some pretty insightful questions.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be writing a series of posts on the top questions we were asked – since you may have similar ones of your own. Today we'll start with:
Question One: How do I get management buy-in for marketing?
Great question! Without support from senior management, there's no way marketing will succeed. If you aren't in a position where you can make budget decisions yourself, you have the challenge of demonstrating what marketing can accomplish. Here are some strategies you can use:
1. Take a "skunkworks" approach
Take the initiative with a marketing side project that will show people how marketing can work, and how effective it can be. Don't 'surprise' your company's ownership or management with your marketing efforts - let them know what you are working on and why, but don't ask for budget. Some specific marketing skunkworks projects you can launch:
- create a customer newsletter
- produce a series of case studies
- develop a short video that explains your company's solutions.
You may generate enough enthusiasm and excitement about the benefits of marketing (eg better sales support materials and enhanced customer communications) through tactics like this to garner investment in an integrated marketing approach. And with that, you'll be able to be more strategic in your marketing, which will give you the platform for longer-term success.
2. Show your bosses what the competition is doing
Opening senior management's eyes to your competitors' marketing can be a good way to galvanize them to action. They need to know that sticking with the status quo is no longer enough - particularly in light of the shift in decision-making that is happening within most B2B companies. The decision makers of yester-year are retiring, and millennials are now the biggest decision makers for B2B purchases (see graphic below). Those millennials have a different approach for finding and selecting vendors - and marketing is essential to get on their radar. If you're not online and garnering attention - and your competitors are - then your business runs the risk of falling behind.
3. Pull in outside help
If your company has a board of advisors, it will usually include a number of knowledgeable people who are connected to the marketplace, and can provide an outside perspective on the value of marketing. If you have a connection with the board, find out if anyone has been agitating for marketing, and talk to them about speaking to the leadership team about its importance. In addition to your own calls for marketing, prods from trusted advisors can prompt your company's leadership to pay more attention to marketing.
Want more ideas?
Need more ways to ensure support from the top for marketing? See Lesson 1 of the The Radical Sales Shift for four more strategies for ensuring buy-in.
Stay tuned for the next question from our "marketing speed dating" series: What are the best tactics to use when you're just starting your marketing?