Building the Case for Bigger Marketing Budget

Let’s face it: Increased expectations require increased budgets… and when it comes to the budget, marketers need to fight for what they deserve. Time and time again, industries experience a growth in total revenue after increasing their marketing budget. Despite this correlation, however, marketers are challenged proving their value to decision makers.

According to Deloitte’s CMO Survey, the average marketing budget accounts for 11% of a company’s total budget. While a company’s marketing budget largely depends on the industry, there’s no question that the organizational role of marketing has expanded, now encompassing advanced marketing tactics and technology like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, data management and analysis, etc. that are beyond basic digital marketing efforts like social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, paid advertising, or content marketing. 

Unless a brand operates in an industry like consumer packaged goods (who use at least one quarter of their budget for marketing purposes), a request for more budget will likely result in some form of push back. Marketers must learn to advocate for themselves in order to reach their full potential.

Related: The Marketing Profession Needs Marketing


Here is how a marketer can build a case for higher marketing spending:

Tactic 1: Get Leadership Buy-In

Marketers are often scrappy, but need a proper budget in order to grow efforts.

Marketers need to think about the impact marketing has on the organization beyond their role and communicate their value in a language leadership and stakeholders will understand. 

Amanda Creger, Director of Strategy at Modo Modo Agency, stated that, “We marketers often take for granted that others in the organization can inherently trace the value of our tactics through to their ultimate business outcomes. In order for marketing to have the respect—and the budget—it deserves, we must communicate our impact in a way that resonates with the rest of the management team.”

Whether it’s talking about market share with the CEO, profitability with the CFO or time to close with the CSO, understanding our colleagues’ business goals - and measuring marketing’s impact in those terms - is crucial to securing budget.
— Amanda Creger | Director of Strategy, Modo Modo

Tom Ellis, the CEO of Swarm Agency added, "Working with non-marketing-focused stakeholders can present challenges in education on the importance of various marketing channels and investments. Showing data on how others in your vertical are investing helps in presenting your case to the C-Suite purely from a competitive standpoint often helps."

He continued, "Always start by telling the stories of your successes. Show how the budget you have been trusted with previous showed positive results and how those results played into the overall growth of the company. Remind them that their trust in you paid off in the past before asking them to trust your budgetary judgment going into the future.” 

When explaining the budget needed from leadership, Tom Ellis advises to break it into three buckets: 

1. 'Tried and true' budget - spend focused on tactics that you know work based on historical data, 

2. 'Test and learn' budget - spend focused on incrementally improving on your 'tried and true' budget, and 

3. 'R&D budget' - spend focused on investing in completely new ideas that will improve your competitive advantage going into the future.


Tactic 2: Explain the Thought Process Behind Upcoming Marketing Initiatives 

Just asking for more budget won’t make a difference. It’s about selling the outcome.

Marketing is, at heart, a rhetorical profession. Selling a budget is about being able to communicate your vision to a skeptical audience. Share just enough of the process of how you came to the budget recommendation. It needs to be viewed as the obvious and logical outcome of a rigorous process.
— Adam Harrell | Co-founder, Nebo Agency

To do this in practice, Harrell recommends:

  • Setting the competitive context (whether you need to catch up or stay ahead)

  • Explain your rationale

  • Be prepared to preempt their possible objections

  • Paint a clear picture of how a larger marketing budget will help to grow the business

Related: The Importance of Communicating the CMO Role to the C-suite


Tactic 3: Team Up with Other Departments 

Communicating and aligning a common strategy with other departments is crucial since, oftentimes, individual departments do not receive a large budget on their own. If several departments share the same goal, however, they can pool their budgets together to meet the marketing goals as well. 

The problem is individual departments don’t always have money. But if we can get the three of them together, then we can do something.
— Moira Vetter | CEO, Modo Modo Agency

Tactic 4: Highlight the Opportunity Cost

In an increasingly competitive marketing landscape, the cost of inaction is an important factor to communicate. 

That’s why it’s important to ask a simple question: What are you losing by failing to invest more in marketing?

Articulating the consequences the company will face if it fails to act is essential to building a business case for more marketing budget. Some impactful options are: 

  • Competitive Analysis - Present a competitive analysis with metrics to visualize the current standings, how competitors are approaching their marketing budget, and how it’s working to help them expand their market share.

  • ROI Calculator - Evaluate what trends the company should and could capitalize on with the marketing strategy and how it could potentially pay off - weigh this against what will happen if the company continues on the same path.

  • Enlist an Agency Partner - Getting agency experts in the room that are advocating for the same things can be helpful in building credibility with the other stakeholders in the company.

Pharmaceutical companies have it right when it comes to launches. They understand that failing to launch costs a certain amount of money PER DAY. Get a common language of ‘what does time cost us when we’re failing to move forward?’ Once you do that, you’re in the clear.
— Moira Vetter

Need to build your marketing budget but don’t know where to start? We worked with four major brands to build a comprehensive budgeting template. You can find that here.