50+ Things Every Demand Generation Manager Should Do Before The Next Budgeting Cycle So They Look Brilliant In the Boardroom

11 Nov
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What’s the most frightening thing about this time of year? Is it ghouls, goblins and Halloween? Rich food and relatives? Another year having raced by? No, it’s budgeting time for businesses. So before you head into the boardroom with your wish list, decide whether you’re going to be like former President, George W. Bush who said, ”It’s clearly a budget. It’s got lots of numbers in it.” Or will you be cynical like Scott Adams’ cartoon character Dilbert? “Never base your budget requests on realistic assumptions, as this could lead to a decrease in your funding.”

Or will you be philosophical like Jackie Mason, who said, “I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.”

I’m betting you’re reading this because you are diligent and can use some wise advice from our virtual panel of marketing experts.

We asked them what should every demand generation manager do before the next budgeting cycle so they look brilliant during the boardroom presentation (besides adding our integrated LeadGen Journalism process to your marketing program  😉 ).  Here are their answers:

NATE PRUITT, Senior Director, Demand Generation at Shoretel:

1. Fully understand what it means to be an inbound marketer.  
2. Marketers need to educate senior executives on how to make the transition from old outbound tactics to content marketing and 100% focus on inbound.
3. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the vision of how to do it needs to be clearly outlined.  
4. Once the “flywheel” gets going, it’s amazing how much you can lower your CPA rates and turn the company into a predictable revenue machine.

MEAGEN EISENBERG, Vice President of Demand Generation at DocuSign:

5. Measure effectiveness of all spend:  Draw a quadrant out on a slide and place the programs within the quadrant based on ROI, awareness.  If they are not in the leaders’ quadrant showing enough return, axe the program.  Show the programs being cut and those that you will double down on.  Having command line item by line item on what is working to drive revenue and what is not is very strong when asking for budget.
6. Show three budget options – Flat, Increase, Decrease from prior budget cycle – and what you will be able to deliver with each.
7. Bucket by Acquire, Keep and Grow:  These decisions are all-important for marketing and the company to be effective in demand gen.  When you are asked to start cutting, even if by line item, stop the conversation and ask:  “Do you want me to spend less on acquiring customers, keeping or growing existing ones?  You tell me which bucket, and I will use my expertise and metrics to decide which line items to cut”.


 SUSAN VITALE, Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS:

8. Analyze failure: More often than not, demand generation leaders are too focused on the next best thing without looking at the past. The key to future success is clear failure analysis. If you don’t know how you have failed, then you won’t be able to dodge those same pitfalls. Analyze and report back. Give your budget proposal a spine with data to support your claims.
9. Identify leaky “success” buckets: Straightforward failures are easy to fix, but successful campaigns need to be analyzed as well. More often than not, demand generation managers are happy with initial ROI successes. They need to start looking at a longer time periods to see if it is consistently successful rather than just assuming it is, based on the initial numbers. Managers might be missing out on campaigns that could perform even better by not identifying areas of lead drop off somewhere in the sales cycle.
10. Know your benchmarks: It is amazing how often this is overlooked. Data means nothing without historical or industry data to compare against. Show off your success through comparison.
11. Audience is everything: As marketers, deep down we know what “knowing your audience” means. Well the same applies here – remember your audiences and to whom you are talking. If you want a plan approved or quick feedback, provide the feedback they want to hear. What does your budget proposal mean to them – not in dollars spent, but in dollars gained. How will your presentation benefit the company as a whole?
12. Enlist the troops: You’re not alone. If your staff is held to a portion of the team goal, enlist their help. While the Demand Gen Manager is the leader, it takes a team to get there. Have them pull the numbers you need and help create your proposal. This will help you build a better story to present with the ability to compile more data points in less time and your team will feel involved in the longer-term strategy goals. (You just renewed their engagement levels.)

JAY MILLARD,Chief Operating Officer at Amadeus Consulting:

13. Demonstrate they have a clear content and lead generation strategy.
14. Focus on measurement through the funnel and maintaining seamless tracking of the client experience.
15. Connect customer acquisition efforts to the actual sale.
16. Measure ROI.
17. Have an intelligent forecast for expectations.
18. Own outcomes.

JOHN SARICH, Vice President Corporate Strategy at VUE Software:

19. Know the strategic direction of the business.
20. Get into the financial #’s and get detailed metrics on the value of each and every marketing initiative.
21. Drive for perfection.
22. Intimately know how each of your top competitors is doing. Are you beating them or losing to them? Is their business growing faster/slower than yours? What are the win-loss #’s for each deal that you won or lost?
23. Know what marketing campaigns worked and why, what campaigns didn’t measure up and why.
24. Decide what you are going to different in the New Year.
25. Plan how you will achieve the pipeline goals for the New Year.

UMESH MALHOTRA, Director of Demand Generation at Arena Solutions:

26. Share campaign metrics that cost the least and converted the most, campaigns with the highest ROI.
27. Show the value of opportunities created in the pipeline, which are rated with a higher chance of converting next quarter.
28. Use quarterly lead growth percentage to show the trend.
29. Compare the budget planned with the budget used. Was the entire budget used? Do we need an increased budget? If yes – why?
30. Change campaigns that worked to top gear and multiply spend on those specific campaigns.

ALICE LANKESTER, CMO at Friend2Friend:

31. Defend the budgets assigned to social and mobile: US consumers’ enthusiasm for social media is showing no signs of relenting, and time spent online continues to increase.  Social is no longer just Facebook and Twitter. For brands looking to drive awareness, it’s a social patchwork of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, What’s App, SnapChat, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and more — each with its own zeitgeist and rules of engagement. So marketers must first defend the budgets assigned to social and mobile and over traditional media and explain why assignments are made.
32. Look for ways to bridge audiences across social experiences:  Marketers should work to understand where their social audiences are most likely to be found and focus their efforts accordingly, and then looking for ways to bridge audiences across social experiences. It’s not only possible, but also highly effective to fuse experiences from myriad platforms together. When brands let each social platform do what it does best (cool mobile photos – Instagram; inspirational ideas in photos – Pinterest; shareable “as it happens” life content – Twitter; in-depth social conversations – Facebook and LinkedIn), and then work to allow sharing of the results across channels, the social impact is maximized. Just because the social fan base is hanging out in different places, doesn’t mean brands can’t build effective campaign bridges between those fragmented audiences.

Understanding, and showing, how the social ecosystem works for a brand’s specific audience will both look brilliant, and be actionable too.


33. Change your metrics focusing on opportunities cost. Measure an opportunity cost and percent of opportunities created – not just number of leads or cost per lead generated.
34. Create a “do not nurture” control group that is truly representative – this is the single best way we know of to answer the question – what difference does lead nurturing make?
35. Stop arguing about attribution and hunker down on position-based attribution.  Showcase what marketing activities contributed to the most opportunities at first touch, at last touch.  How many marketing touches (on average) were required to get to a close/won opportunity?  What kinds of activities were these?
36. Simplify your lingo. Forget about Chinese food. Terms like “TOFU” and “MOFU” make sense to a technical demand gen leader but don’t link marketing activities to either revenue or opportunity created.  They have no place in the boardroom.

HEIDI BULLOCK,Senior Director Marketing at Marketo:

37. Tie your programs and initiatives to the key business goals and objectives for the coming year.  Identify the outcomes you expect to come from this investment.  For example, if I am given ‘x’% more increase in budget, I will be able to deliver ‘y’ results. It is critical for marketers to begin to talk about investment, as opposed to cost.  Your job is to grow the business, not be a cost center.
38. Create a content map that supports the yearly initiatives: This should include a mix of thought leadership pieces and product-specific content.
39. Illustrate how your plan supports the goals/initiatives:  Show, which channels and content are best for top of funnel, mid funnel, bottom funnel.
40. Identify what you are going to do differently in the coming year:  For instance, identify programs, etc. you would not run again.  Identify areas you would spend less on.  It is important to be critical of programs or initiatives that did not perform and learn from them.
41. Show how you measure your programs and overall progress.

JIM VAN MEER, Creative Director, API:

42. Do your homework:  Make sure you have the facts and figures you need before you start.
43. Don’t sweat the small stuff:  Picayune items and the number of decimal points may interest the bean counters, but the executives making the call want the 50,000-foot level presentation.
44. Be short and sweet: Don’t waste time getting to the crux of the matter. You need X amount of money to accomplish X amount of work, which will give X amount of results. Tie the results into dollars and watch their eyes light up.
45. Answer the six basic questions the board has before they have a chance to ask them:  Who, what, where, when, how and why?
46. No fear: You’ll never get to where you need to go if you fear what someone might say, do or think. You have to do what’s right, and if you do what’s right, what’s there to fear?

SARAH NOEL, Product Marketing Manager at Flexera Software:

47. Show that your plans have the ability to produce clear results on each and every activity. SHOW THE ROI!
48. Show a clear understanding of the target audience and how you’ll reach them at the right time with the right message.
49. Show how much revenue marketing has contributed to the company’s annual revenue figures.
50. For those organizations where it’s important, give a clear insight into % increase in market share.

MILES BARRY, Head of Marketing at MDSL:

51. Show that marketing contribution is tangible: Have at least one copper-bottomed example of how a marketing programs or campaign generated tangible, measurable new business. Make sure Sales agree with your analysis.
52. Know your figures and have a clear understanding of the marketing budget, classified under specific headings (Events, SEO, Website Development, PR etc.) and separate activities. This will allow you to refute claims that “the marketing budget is out of control”, “marketing spend has risen disproportionately since last year” etc. by demonstrating clearly which sectors have increased or decreased and, by referring to specific sales achievements, why. Make sure “Business travel” (other than for trade shows, etc.) has been removed from the marketing budget.

RANDY LITTLESON, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Flexera Software:

53. Make sure you are 100% aligned with sales on who you wake up every day targeting.
54. Make reporting relevant to the audience:  If the boardroom is your audience, speak in terms of pipeline, bookings and ROI.  While clicks, leads, etc. are all important “top of funnel” metrics for marketing to understand and pay attention to, it’s all about revenue growth in the boardroom and ROI.  What works – Know what works (based on ROI and bookings generated).  Understand which programs are working and which one’s aren’t and have plans to shift investment accordingly.
55. Understand the relationship between awareness and demand generation: There are reasons to invest in some less performing campaigns from a direct measurement of ROI if you can show they increase awareness based on other metrics.
56. Understand your mix of investment in People vs. Programs compared to industry norms.  Demonstrate that you can deliver results in an efficient manner.
57. Marketing is still a bit of a mystery to many in the boardroom – especially to those who don’t come from a marketing background.  Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees – demonstrate that marketing is contributing to the top-level metrics (bookings/revenue) in a cost-effective (ROI) way.  Don’t get bogged down in a lot of details that the board isn’t worried about – that’s your job to manage and they expect that.

So, it’s budgeting time. Just how much marketing ROI, sales leads, conversions, content and tracking is enough and what should it all cost? Sleep on it, but don’t lose sleep over it.  😉

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