6 questions every CEO needs to ask before approving the marketing budget

6 questions every CEO needs to ask before approving the marketing budget

Posted by James Lavender
Speed Reading Mode

Marketing. Arcane magic, accessible only to initiates. Or is it?

In fact, you don’t have to be a marketing magician to understand the whats, hows and whys of it all. Nor do you need to be able to tell your CTAs from your CTRs (or any other acronym-infested marketing-speak) to make informed decisions. As a CEO, marketing is not your focus, and rightly so.

What you DO need to know are the right questions to ask so you can sign off the marketing budget with confidence, knowing that your marketing strategy is aligned with your business goals. Here are our suggestions.

1. What are our objectives?

In marketing, as in anything else, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably not going to get there. Your marketing strategy should have well-defined objectives.

Yes, marketing activities = more customers = X revenue. That’s one objective. But there are other things that matter, from improving your search traffic to increasing your conversion rate to growing your brand awareness. Therefore, first thing, ask about objectives.

2. How will we measure success?

Your objectives shouldn’t just be clearly defined — they should also be measurable and verifiable. How else will you know if you’ve hit them?

Sheer intuition, you say? Well, we’ve tried. It doesn’t work. Sorry.

So, don’t settle for a vague goal. You want numbers. Fuzzy terms like “uplift” or “optimisation” sound good, but they aren’t enough. Get the specific targets you’re aiming for and the metrics to measure them.

3. Who are we targeting?

There are eight billion people in the world, but only a fraction of them will actually be interested in what you’re offering. For your marketing strategy to succeed, you need to know who those people are and speak directly to them.

A HealthTech company, for instance, might want to focus on the 15 percent of connected adults who wear a fitness band. Or how about the millions of people who download a health-tracking app in a given month?

Whatever your industry, your strategic marketing plan should be aimed at a specific buyer persona — a data-backed representation of the people most likely to be interested in your product or service.

Trust us, it’s easier than addressing the entire known universe and hoping someone — or something — responds.

4. What are we telling them?

There’s an age-old marketing adage that goes, don’t sell the product, sell the solution.

We’re sure your product is extremely cool and packed with great features. But the hard truth is: nobody cares!

People care about their hopes and aspirations, their challenges and troubles. The only thing they want to hear from you is how your product will help them with any of that.

This should be the guiding principle behind your messaging — the way you highlight what your product can do for people. What are the struggles and aspirations of your target persona, and where does your product fit in?

You’ll also want to consider that, on a given day, your ideal customer has already been bombarded by a hundred other companies. How are you going to cut through the noise to get noticed? This is your positioning — the way you stand out from the crowd of competitors vying for attention.

5. How are we going to reach them?

Once you know who you’re trying to speak to and what you want to tell them, you need to figure out where they are and meet them there.

A good buyer persona will include insights about where your customers like spending their time and what content they like to consume. This should be used to define your channel mix — the budget you allocate to different platforms and marketing approaches.

Skip this step, and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Because let’s face it, you’re probably not reaching C-suite executives with TikTok ads, and vice versa, your audience of teen gamers won’t sign up for a webinar no matter how many emails you send them.

6. Why?

It’s every child’s favourite question, and it should be yours, too.

If your marketing manager has the answer to every question, that’s great. Well done, them. But how do you know those are the right answers?

Asking ‘why?’ at every available opportunity isn’t just great for annoying people. It helps you make sure your marketing team has done the legwork rather than the guesswork. Every decision, from defining objectives to building a buyer persona, should have solid evidence to support it.

You want to ensure the marketing strategy aligns with your broader business goals. ‘Why this campaign?’ ‘Why now?’ If every aspect of your business isn’t pulling in the same direction, you’ll expend lots of effort to go nowhere.

More questions? We’ve got you

Asking these six questions should help you get a firm hand on what your company’s marketing budget is being used for. And just like we promised, hardly any acronyms were used in the making of this article.

If you want to build a strategic marketing plan that’s fine-tuned for success, check out our handy toolkit.

Or, why not ask us your questions? Practice makes perfect, after all.

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