Today’s marketers have a lot more tech-related buying power than they did in the past. In fact, by 2017, it’s predicted that CMOs will spend more annually on IT than CIOs.
Companies are now putting customer experience at their core, realigning people and departments around the customer journey. As a result, marketers are working harder than ever to engage consumers, and these strategies tend to require an investment in software and technology.
That’s why it has become crucial for marketers to learn how to create and effectively present budgets for their tech projects – something not too many of them have much experience doing.
When It Comes to Budgets, the Devil Is in the Details
Most marketers didn’t study computer science in college. They might understand the design, user experience, and features they would like the solution to possess, but they often lack an understanding of what’s necessary from a technical standpoint.
This is why so many marketing-led technology projects hit a snag. Ultimately, the people crafting the proposals don’t fully grasp the scope of what they’re asking for, and they aren’t entirely sure how (or whether) the proposed software will integrate with existing systems. This usually doesn’t go over well with the powers that be.
When it comes to integrating new software with legacy applications and infrastructure, marketers really need to make sure they understand the technical nuances of the project.
Improve Your Chances of Getting a ‘Yes’
Here are three ways to show decision makers that your project is worth investing in:
1. Understand what you are requesting.
Show that you have done your homework, and don’t be afraid to acknowledge any potential downsides to your proposal early in the presentation. Will anyone have to make concessions or experience delays in order to accommodate your project? Ignoring these potential conflicts and inconveniences could result in them being held against you later.
Don’t make decision makers feel as if they’re taking a gamble on your proposal. Give the impression that if this were your company and you were using your own money, you would invest in this project. Confidence is key; you don’t want to appear unsure or hesitant.
Emphasize that your project will have a positive ROI. If you can’t clearly explain how that will occur, you don’t understand the project well enough. The last thing you want to do is appear as if you’re wasting others’ time due to a lack of knowledge about your own project.
2. Keep your audience in mind.
As you develop your pitch, remember who your audience members are and how they will receive your proposal. Are you going to verbally present your budget to them, or will you submit a paper copy? In the case of a written proposal, does your content stand on its own without further explanation?
Avoiding marketing jargon will make your budget clearer for your audience. A barrage of marketing terms will likely force decision makers to work too hard to understand your pitch. If your boss has to struggle to interpret what you’re saying, your chances of success become much lower.
3. Proactively ask for feedback from influencers.
Decision makers will often consult other people before banging the gavel on your proposal. As the people who know the ins and outs of existing business software and systems, IT team members will be approached for guidance. IT will also ultimately be in charge of making sure any new technology can be supported and maintained.
It would make a lot of sense for you to run your proposal by IT before the decision makers do. Just like a good lawyer wouldn’t put a witness on the stand without knowing what that person was going to say, you need to know ahead of time what your company’s key influencers think about your proposal. If you show these individuals how your project will benefit their department and help them reach their goals, they’ll be aligned with you when decision makers ask for their input down the road.
Don’t be afraid to explicitly ask for help and support from these key people, and be sure to adapt and improve your proposal based on their feedback.
If these tips sound like a lot of work, it’s because they are. Budgets are usually tight, and marketers, in particular, need to go to great lengths to show that their tech projects are worth spending money on.
If you do the legwork to make your proposal clear and beneficial to the people who matter, you are much more likely to walk away with an accepted tech budget.
Erika Carney is CMO at Skookum, a custom software design and development firm with offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Denver, Colo. She oversees the company’s marketing and communications programs, as well as its internal product development. She has more than eight years of experience in product development and marketing at high-growth software companies. Follow her on Twitter at @erikalcarney.