How to Get Executive Buy-In for Your Inbound Marketing Initiatives
In the tech industry, research shows that one of the top reasons that software implementations fail is due to a lack of executive buy-in. That’s because all major organizational changes have to happen from the top down. Likewise, implementing successful inbound marketing initiatives is nearly impossible without support from your company’s leadership.
Inbound marketing practices are proven to boost website traffic, improve lead generation and increase sales. But to get there, you’ll need budget, resources, and support — which means you’ll need the executive team on your side. In this blog, find out how to convince leadership that inbound marketing is worth the investment. Here are a few ways to win executive support:
Understand Their Pain Points
Selling your company’s leadership, just as with your buyer, requires understanding what keeps them up at night. And it’s probably not marketing. Instead, leaders are thinking about their big-picture business concerns. You should focus on how inbound marketing could help alleviate those pain points by improving visibility, share of voice, reputation, credibility, cost per lead, or quality of lead.
Focus initial discussions about inbound marketing around your leadership team’s key business concerns. Ask preliminary questions, such as what they think the biggest marketing and sales challenges facing your business are and how they think you could address them. By uncovering answers to questions like these, you are better able to understand your company’s most pressing needs, communicate your solutions in terms that resonate, and lay a strong foundation on which to build your case.
Be as detailed as you can when building your case — drill down to minutes, hours, dollars, and cents where possible. Don’t be afraid to get specific about your numbers. Is your sales team struggling to close new business because your lead flow is more like a trickle? Is your website traffic dismally low? Does your conversion rate huddle around zero? How can inbound improve sales, save money, and make people more efficient? Don’t leave any questions about impact, cost, and time commitment unanswered.
You’re likely to encounter questions — and concerns — in the pitch process. Be forthcoming about the pros and cons of inbound marketing. It shows that you’ve done your research and that you have a nuanced understanding of what you’re recommending. Show leadership that you understand their concerns and come prepared with ways to counter them. Draw clear connections between what you’re recommending and the problems that those recommendations will solve. Data and research on your buyer personas, marketing analyses of competitors, and other data-driven resources will be incredibly useful in supporting your claims.
Outline the ‘How’
Be realistic about your existing resources (whether that’s people, budget, or both), as well as the time and effort required to get your marketing initiatives up and running. If you will need training, agency assistance, or outside vendors, be sure to research and present on possible costs. If you are planning to get others in your organization involved in efforts such as content marketing, make sure you have structured your plan in a way that doesn’t place the burden too heavily on any one department. If an in-house subject matter expert would only need to commit three hours each month toward these initiatives — perhaps by writing a blog post or being interviewed for one — make sure you share that with company leadership.
Successful inbound marketing requires significant time and effort to see results. Some experts estimate it can be up to six months before you begin to see the full impact. As you’re pitching inbound marketing, make your boss aware of the results you can realistically anticipate and the length of time it will take you to demonstrate those returns. Address how you’ll deliver quick wins in the meantime.
Snag Immediate Wins
If you sense reluctance or hesitation, suggest some immediate wins based on existing needs that you’ve identified. Are your competitors ranking pages ahead of you in search engine results? Could an investment in web design significantly improve the customer experience on your website? Inbound marketing can help solve those issues in tangible, measurable ways. By suggesting small and achievable steps to make an impact, you can make a business case over time to fully embrace inbound marketing.
You need your boss’ support in securing the budget and creating the culture that will empower your strategies. That buy-in will also go a long way to encouraging your entire company to adapt to the change. When you’re advocating for inbound, your leadership needs to understand that this isn’t a one-time spend; it’s an ongoing effort and long-term investment which — when done correctly — will yield high returns.