A lot of marketing budget rejection can feel demoralizing. You may start to wonder if your company even believes in the power of marketing. The truth is that they may not.
A 2014 study by The Fournaise Group found that 90% of marketers are not trained in marketing performance and marketing ROI. The same study says that 80% of marketers struggle to demonstrate the business effectiveness of their marketing activities to their top management.
How can marketers win the budgets they need to attract customers if they can't prove to management that inbound marketing spend will result in a measurable return?
Here are some common CEO objections to inbound marketing and our recommendations on how to overcome them.
Objection #1 - Our marketing doesn't focus on our customer needs.
Objection #2 - We're not seeing a return on our marketing investment.
Objection #3 - Outbound delivers results, so we're going to put more money there.
By taking the following recommendations, you'll be able to build inbound marketing campaigns that your leadership will fall over themselves to fund. If you don't already have much of a budget, then you may have to start small, but this should get you going in the right direction.
Overcoming Objection #1 - Focus on Your B2B Customer
Build Customer-centric Content
Your inbound marketing may not be focused on your customers’ needs. As a result, you're not generating the kind of activity and return you set out to achieve. It's time to embrace customer-centric marketing.
As marketing grows more customer-centric, digital content marketing becomes increasingly important as a means of developing customer relationships that lead to sales. The B2B marketing world is flooded with content marketing that is overly promotional and speaks to individual prospects as if they're a company, not a person.
Customers and prospects don't want to be inundated with messages about the things you want to sell them. When you focus on your B2B customer, you find out what their needs are and you cater your marketing to them. As you build up trust through brand engagement, your customers will be more willing to listen to your sales pitches – but this shouldn't be the focus of your inbound efforts.
Ask yourself this: Are you building inbound content that you want your customer to see or are you building content that your B2B customers want to see?
Buyer Personas Are Key to Customer-centric Marketing
A focus on the customer means understanding your buyer personas and building content catered toward the individuals who purchase from you. When you key-in on your target audience this way, then your inbound marketing content starts to stand out as a result of driving more engagement.
Customer-centricity will benefit your brand. When done right, you'll develop not only trust, but also customer advocates. Your inbound marketing budgets for blogs articles, website work, social media, video, and SEO may not be expanded overnight. Once your leadership team sees the benefits customer-centric marketing brings, they should be more willing to invest in marketing.
How to Make Your Case:
Many B2B companies build content that speaks from the voice of one business to another. Let your team know that the point of inbound marketing is to attract PEOPLE. To do this, you have to build inbound content that speaks to the individual customer and their challenges, not just the overall business pains.
Start showing your team that your inbound marketing is customer-focused by building out your buyer personas. Next, lay out a plan for your team that charts out your personas and makes suggestions for compelling content that potential customers would engage with at various stages in the buyer's journey.
To help show that your customer-centric marketing is making a difference, you need to be a master of your marketing metrics. Online marketing results are quantifiable. Decision makers can obtain real-time results about the number of visitors, subscribers, and conversion rates. These results helps decision makers adjust their strategies at any time to maximize results.
If you can show your CEO and leadership team that your inbound efforts are starting to attract more targeted visitors who are engaging with your persona-focused content, then you can start to have the BIG discussion: Inbound marketing ROI.
Overcoming Objection #2 - ROI of B2B Inbound Marketing
Your CEO is focused on the bottom line, so it's important to emphasize the return on investment from inbound marketing efforts. According to Hubspot's State of Inbound 2015, you need to make the business case and show that your marketing plans make financial sense. A solid 43% of marketers with budgets under $25,000 received a budget increase in 2015, and for 31%, the level of funding held steady. And if you were one of the 8% whose budget was slashed? Poor ROI tracking could be to blame.
Why aren't marketers able to show ROI?
- They don't have access to marketing analytics.
- They do have access to marketing analytics, but don't know how to interpret the numbers.
- They're not setting up campaign tracking and attribution models to source leads.
- Without tracking and attribution, they don't know which campaigns are most effective.
- They lose sight of leads when they're passed to sales.
How to Make Your Case:
According to BusinessBolts, 62% of small companies reported spending less than $100 a month on content marketing and 45% said content has lowered advertising costs. Pointing out studies like this that make the case for the economics of content creation will help you. Proving it with your own numbers will be the way to get those additional marketing dollars.
Showing how inbound increases brand engagement may help warm up your CEO to these ideas, but you ultimately need to make a clear connection between your inbound marketing efforts and increased sales. If you can show that inbound creates true value for the organization, you can start to justify your marketing expenses for tactics like blogging, SEO, social media, and content creation.
Get started by becoming a master of your analytics dashboards. Make sure you're using campaign tagging within your marketing tools and fight to make sure that marketing-generated leads are tagged and tracked in your CRM.
This may take some self-education, but it'll be worth it when you can point to closed sales and show which ones came in from specific inbound activities.
Overcoming Objection #3 - Combining the Power of Marketing and Sales
Why wouldn't your company spend money on outbound if that's where revenue was coming from? It's your job to make the case that inbound and outbound aren't forces in opposition.
The relationship between your sales teams and marketing teams should be symbiotic. By integrating the efforts of your inbound and outbound marketing, you can start to improve the ROI for both. This helps make the marketing return on investment crystal clear to leadership. Inbound and outbound marketing can be used in conjunction to improve the lead generation process and shorten the sales cycle.
How to Make Your Case:
Marketing Profs’ Sales and Marketing Alignment Benchmark Report shows that a partnership between sales and marketing leads to a 36% higher customer-retention rate and a 38% higher sales-close rate. With proper marketing and sales alignment, there is a shared definition of, and appropriate path for, your inbound responders, MQLs, and SQLs. Marketing understands when leads should be passed over to sales and can help guide sales on the best follow-up for inbound leads.
When working together optimally, marketing can equip sales both with inbound MQLs that become SQLs and provide the sales team with the content and sales collateral needed to help convert leads to wins. Your sales team will appreciate this and your CEO and leadership team will take notice when sales starts to take more marketing leads to close.
Remember that your inbound marketing success can be proven through your marketing analytics numbers. With proper tracking links and analytics attribution models, you can directly track the origins of your leads and wins back to your marketing activities. Marketing automation tools can play a big role in helping to show your CEO and leadership teams the true value of your marketing efforts.
By making your marketing more customer-centric, using better methods to measure your marketing ROI, and better aligning your sales and marketing efforts, you're likely to have an easier time getting your CEO to invest in inbound marketing.
What are you doing to promote inbound marketing to your leadership? What are you doing to combine the powers of inbound and outbound marketing? Get your eBook and start on your path toward a more robust inbound marketing budget.