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Feb 27, 2023 BY Jarrett Way Marketing

Three Ways to Convince Leadership to Invest in Marketing

Mighty Insights

Insights, delivered.

As a marketing team supporting your organization, it’s hard to operate effectively when you simply don’t have the resources. Or, even worse—when you feel like you have to make a case for everything you want to do. No matter how savvy your marketing team is, you won’t get far without top-down support. It’s easy to view marketing and communications as a sunken cost if you’re not leveraging it properly to showcase its value. With the right resources coupled with strategic alignment, your marketing efforts can launch you above and beyond the goals you’ve set!

But hey, I’m preaching to the choir here. Of course, you know the value of what you do. And maybe you’ve spent a little too much time trying to convince your leadership of it.

So, how do you sell the value of marketing to your leadership? Before we dive in, let’s lay out some of the challenges you may run into:

Common Challenges


Often, organizations (especially larger ones) are fragmented across various departments and teams. In these cases, it becomes more of a challenge for the marketing and communications team to communicate the impact of their work across the organization as a whole. Focus on highlighting how your work is accomplishing organizational goals comprehensively—open lines of communication to check in with key parties across your organization to promote alignment and support.

Background of Leadership

It’s also common that members of your leadership team don’t have a marketing, communications, or development background. For example, many of the executive directors or other leaders that come into an organization have client services backgrounds. With that comes just a plain lack of context for the value you provide. Without that inherent buy-in or belief in your efforts, you may be fighting an uphill battle.

Even with those challenges, there are ways to make a strong case for the work that you do.

1) First, Value.

The very first step for making your case is to define exactly what value means to your leadership. The mission-driven organizations we work with are typically interested in growth and engagement. For example, universities are concerned about size and mix of enrollment. For nonprofits, it’s the money coming in from fundraising efforts. Government agencies want more constituents signing up for services. Associations are looking to increase and retain their membership and engage them through products or services. Is there alignment between your marketing plan and the overall strategic plan for the organization? All of your goals should ladder up to a greater organizational goal. Identify what matters to your leadership and how you can directly support those goals. Then, it will be clear what you should share with leadership because your work is aligned.

“The business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
— Peter Drucker

2) Make a Plan

And write it down!

It’s one thing to have an idea of what you’ll accomplish over the year, but really, that’s the extent of it—an idea. Ideas need strategy, tactics, and metrics, and all of those pieces need a place to live! If you don’t have a written annual marketing and communications plan, you’re missing a prime opportunity to create your own guide for the year that tells you everything you want to accomplish and how you’ll do it. Not only is it a guide, but it’s documentation of how your departmental goals ladder up to the organizational goals. It’s also something tangible you can provide leadership to show the extent of effort and detail that goes into accomplishing those goals.

Not sure where to start? Download Mighty Citizen’s Annual Marketing and Communications Plan Template for free:

3) Demonstrate Return on Investment

One of the best ways to prove your contributions to your organizational goals is to demonstrate ROI. Even if you’re not already moving the needle as much as you want to, you can always paint a picture of what you could be doing with more resources. For example, if you ran a paid social media campaign to garner donations, the money you raised, despite a lack of resources, speaks to what your department can do with even a little more investment. Also, keep in mind that ROI is not always monetary. Make it clear that there is real value in showcasing a strong brand. It pays out in affinity, engagement, and support that will almost always have long-term financial benefits.

One consideration that can aid you in demonstrating ROI is to set realistic expectations. It’s all too easy to think about where a new, shiny marketing initiative can take you. But, you’re not making the case for where you want to be. You have to demonstrate the realistic ways you’ve proven success, especially when you start throwing money behind it. Once you have that foundation, you can scale the whole operation as more resources start flowing.

Play the Numbers Game

No matter what, the numbers don’t lie. Your data is key for making your case and earning that buy-in if you don’t have it. If you can demonstrate that your marketing efforts are consistently accomplishing the goals you set out, you can make a compelling case for increased resources. Keep track of key metrics such as website traffic, engagement, and conversions, and present this data in regular reports to leadership. Over time, you’ll build trust and demonstrate the impact of your marketing efforts on the organization’s goals.

And let us be perfectly clear: be perfectly clear. Spell it out plainly. Draw the connections. If you know increased traffic resulted in increased engagement, make it known! You should be on the hunt for every way you can demonstrate attribution.

Here’s a tip: Don’t be afraid to celebrate the little wins! Your leadership should hear about them far more often than once a year in your annual report. With more regular updates, you’ll promote more confidence in your work.

The Power of Suggestion

If your leadership isn’t familiar with the ways they can leverage marketing or support your team, you may find this non-exhaustive list helpful when making your case. Here are seven areas that your leadership can invest:

  1. Hiring to your team

  2. Increasing your budget

  3. Content marketing

  4. Online presence/digital assets

  5. Data management and analytics

  6. Marketing research

  7. Training and professional development

None of these are one-offs, either! Every single one of these areas can ladder up to organizational strategy, and you should always start with strategy. When you start smaller, tactical projects that don’t directly relate to the overall strategy, you run the risk of creating a disparate brand and experience for your audiences.

Mighty Citizen Can Help

We know a thing or two about the value of marketing (and metrics, and engagement, and conversions, and more!) When you get that big increase to your marketing budget (fingers crossed!), give us a shout! We’d love to hear more and be a resource to your team.

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