Business Case Guide for Marketing Professionals
Putting Your Great Marketing Ideas into Action
We see this happen all the time: You have a great idea for a new marketing initiative that you know will be a winner. You get excited about it and you present the idea to your team only to be told that there isn't a budget for it.
Your excitement turns to frustration. How could your leadership deny such a good idea? You know that it would pay for itself and get a quick return. You told them about the ROI in the meeting, but still your idea is rejected.
Make the Business Case for B2B Marketing
Making a great business case is the best way to put your plans into motion. Even if team members buy into your creative vision, they may need additional convincing on the business vision. A well-built business case will help turn those rejections into approvals.
The rational behind why your idea is great and your feeling on what your plan will achieve are important. You're still going to have to bring that same passion to the table, but you're going to have to back it up with numbers.
Elements of the Business Case
You're a marketer. Take the same passion you bring to creating great marketing and build your business case. Like all of the marketing content that you create make sure you understand your buyer persona. If you're making a case for your CFO it may be different than the case you make for the VP of Sales or the CMO.
Once you've established your audience work to build a clear and organized document that lays out the background of the problem and the makes benefit of the solution clear. Additional options for alternate solutions should also be presented. A great marketing business case will typically contain the following:
This high-level view of the business case explains in plain language the problems that will be solved, major considerations, resources needed, desired outcome, and predicted ROI of the proposed project.
This section describes the problem the proposed project is supposed to solve and identifies areas where there are issues to be addressed. You evaluate the current conditions and point out disadvantages and inefficiencies.
Analysis of Situation
Here you outline the situation behind the problem and use causal analysis to examine how the situation came about. You can also speculate on potential consequences if the current situation persists. In this section, you can identify sources of data needed to support the business case, including case statistics, historical data, analysis, forecasts, and demographic studies.
Identify potential solutions and describe them in detail. Explore all potential solutions so leadership can have options to choose from.
This section addresses the resources required for implementation, such as the project budget and time line. The time line should identify and describe all stages of the project, including the post-project review.
Provide measurable goals for project milestones so that you have quantifiable criteria for determining the success of the project. The project description should take into account risks, potential return on investment, and total operating costs.
This analysis should present the costs and benefits for all options. Using data from similar projects can provide the information you need to argue for the projected financial benefit the plan will provide for the company. The benefits gained should justify the costs.
Make recommendations for the project and how it is to be conducted. You can also stress why this option is preferable to other options that you presented as alternative solutions.
Business Case Preparation Takes Time
No matter how excited you are about your idea, don’t rush into things. Careers can be built or broken based on business cases. Before you start to write the business case, you need to determine that the project is feasible. In preparation, brainstorm about potential options for resolving the issue.
Don't let yourself be blinded my your own certainty of the plan working. Consider what problems could prevent success and consider the contengencies that will need to be put into place should the plan fail.
Understand Your Topic Enough to Teach It
Make sure you have identified the business case subject and can articulate it clearly. Understand the problem, issues, or goals surrounding it and determine the requirements for carrying out your plan. Make sure you can spell these out in plain language.
Remember that your decision making team may not speak the same marketing language as you do. For example, if you're talking about the latest social media strategy to a person unfamiliar with how social media works, then you'll want to be careful with the language you use to explain your business plan.
Understand Your Time and Resource Needs
How much time and resources would be needed if your plan were put into place? What would the financial requirements for the time be and where would the money come from?
Remember that ongoing support of a plan takes time and this time needs to be accounted for. If your plan calls for follow-up phone calls after an event for instance, you'll need to calculate the labor time, management time, equipment or tools necessary, and potentially even the phone bills for the project.
Projects Get Approved When They Support Business Needs
Whatever resources are needed, the project needs to support a specific, quantifiable business need. The plan should support your company’s goals and values, so review your mission statement and other company initiatives before proceeding. Your project is more likely to get approved if you can make a business case that aligns with your organizational goals.
Finally, take your preliminary plans to the decision makers in your business. Ask for their feedback about the project. Do they have additional ideas about how the plan could be accomplished? Most importantly, do they think the plan is worthwhile and realistic?
Marketing is constantly evolving, and your business needs to keep up with the current trends. Making a great business case could be a step in that direction.
What is the best marketing idea that you've ever had that was rejected by your company? We want to hear from you in the comments section below.