When it comes to growing revenue for a startup or scaleup -- or just about any small company -- in IaaS, SaaS, or Fintech, digital marketing budgets tend to be one of the biggest pockets of ignorance and arrogance holding back a company’s growth potential.

A brand journalist recently asked me to share some advice for planning your budget for digital marketing.

The Biggest Challenge to Acquiring More Digital Marketing Budget

Many executives and boards controlling marketing budgets have an outdated understanding of modern marketing and sales strategy. 

Even before the pandemic, most B2B buyer's journeys had shifted control quite dramatically away from sellers and into the hands of buyers. 

There's so much research going on using search, social, user-generated content, and video.

By the time most B2B prospects -- especially those in-market for IaaS, SaaS, or Fintech -- are ready for a sales conversation, typically 60%-80% of the buyer's journey is already over.

Suppose you're controlling marketing budgets for all-things digital, and don't realize the seismic shifts in buyer behavior over the past five years and accelerated during the pandemic. 

In that case, your marketing budget becomes absurdly out of balance -- with most client acquisition investments in the final 30% of the buyer's journey and very little marketing investment in the first 70% of the buyer's journey. 

In many cases, the ignorance and arrogance among executives controlling digital marketing spend is somewhere between clueless, nauseating, and just plain toxic.


How to Get a Bigger Budget for Digital

To ask for more budget, you first have to make sure that the executives/board controlling budget understand buyer behavior. 

Some of that relies on investing in some super-important customer insight research -- like buyer personas, buyer's journey mapping, and jobs to be done. 

That said, if those controlling budgets genuinely believe that they need to spam more people, retarget (stalk) more visitors, buy a bigger trade show booth, buy more faux editorial placements/advertorials from old-school trade publishers, and cold call more prospects, at some point, you have to conclude that you're talking to a wall; it's like staying in a bad work marriage. 

This usually explains why the average tenure among marketing executives isn't terribly long.

Best Practices for Developing Your Marketing Budget

Know your unit economics and take great care to positively influence unit economics before setting goals. 

Average client lifetime value (LTV), client acquisition cost (CAC), and average sales cycle length directly impact your ability to develop SMART goals -- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound. 

Marketing leaders must have a fantastic collaborative relationship and partnership with their sales, customer success, and product counterparts. 

Many companies make the huge mistake of allowing sales teams to control marketing strategy and marketing budgets. 

To truly compete in today's hypercompetitive marketplaces for infrastructure, software, or financial technology, all key stakeholders must recognize that marketing owns the first ~70% of the buyer's journey --- and don't allow dysfunctional power struggles to create silos and imbalances that can interfere with the marketer's ability to attract the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all in the right context.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing when it comes to planning your company’s digital marketing investments? Let me know in the comments.

And if you need to leverage digital marketing to grow your B2B SaaS, FinTech, or IaaS startup or scaleup, be sure to enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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