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How to Sell Digital to your Board

Profile image for Andy Headington

Something I hear a lot from digital marketing managers and CMOs is that they have issues getting the budget they need for projects, because the board doesn't see the value that digital marketing can bring. Whether you need tools and services like CRM and SEO, investment in digital and social advertising, professionally-produced content for social media, or simply more marketing services or workforce to make use of the available opportunities, convincing those with decision-making power often seems to be a sticking point.

I see this as a generational thing – back in the day, those in the hot seat would have reached their audiences through 'old school' tactics like direct mail and TV ads, and they still believe that this is the way to go. The problem is that times have changed and audiences are more complex and demanding these days, so reaching out to them involves a more considered approach that utilises the channels and content they'll engage with.

You might feel that if the people you work for could only understand this and commit more investment into digital, you could smash your targets and show everyone what you're really capable of. If this is you, these tips for getting more support for your digital marketing initiatives could be a good starting point.

1: Present hard facts and figures

Luckily for you, the web is awash with stats about companies succeeding with digital marketing, so have a Google and report back with some evidence. You can also look closer to home of course. Any examples of competitors succeeding with the tactics you're advocating – or struggling without them and leaving a space for you to fill – will definitely hit home.

If you really want to touch a nerve, you could demonstrate how your company has failed to achieve the desired ROI with campaigns like print brochures or radio ads. Or because it's easier to track the results of digital activities, you could alternatively show how your existing online efforts are succeeding. A presentation with charts and diagrams will also give a useful visual reference and reading material to reflect on later.

2: Get the support of your peers

There may be just one or two people at the top of the tree standing between you and the investment you need. Have a quick chat with some colleagues – you're sure to find people with pulling power around the company who can offer their own compelling perspectives and swing the balance in your favour. And if you're lucky, some among the C-suite will even be willing to lend their support to your cause.

3: Use language they'll understand

The modern audience has different tastes and consumption habits, so methods that worked well when they were current no longer get the same response. Real world examples could help you get idea this across (say, the analogy of Morecambe and Wise vs Russell Brand in the world of comedy). If your boss isn't au fait with modern terminology, make your point with simple, descriptive explanations that they can relate to. For example, rather than referring to SEO, talk about appearing higher in Google search results.

4. Prepare for the most common objections

Your boss will probably say that your competitors and prospects aren't on social media – log in and show them that they are. If they don't believe that you'll generate sales through online channels, remind them that Google grew it’s billions by generating profitable clicks for its advertisers over decades and social media can be one of the top drivers of leads. You could also mention that many of your successful sales activities would likely have failed if you hadn't built a strong brand image and recognition through your online activities.

5. Get vendors and agencies on your side

Companies selling the products and services you want to use will know their strengths and be used to selling their wares, overcoming resistance and having arguments prepared to counter any objections. If you tell them that you're sold, but you need some help convincing your superiors they'll be only too happy to help you out with any stats, case studies and assistance you need to get your point across.

6. Show a clear path to success

Before meeting with your bosses, figure out what it is you're trying to sell to them – which tools and platforms you need, where investment is most required, and how it all fits together into a single strategy that will improve your company's sales performance. This will not only look impressive and improve your chances of convincing those at the top, but you'll also be able to argue for the changes that you need as a package, rather than having to settle for single elements of your strategy that could fall flat (and damage your reputation) if they don't work in isolation.

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