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Getting Marketing Buy-In from the Big Bosses

Whenever I have to ask my boss for something big, I always feel like I’m 13 again, trying to convince my parents to give me $20 because I need the new Janet Jackson tape. My attempts at persuasion weren’t always effective, probably because they leaned toward the dramatic, like how I will just die if I’m the only one without it at Jenny’s sleepover.

Sadly, petulant stomping, pouting and passive-aggressive mumbling won’t cut it with my boss—a shame since I spent my teenage years perfecting that method. So when it comes time for you to appeal to your higher-ups for a little more budget or approval to do something new, I suggest you try some of these other, more effective ways to argue your case instead.

Show alignment to strategic goals – Sometimes it’s okay to come out of left field with a crazy new idea that’s a bit outside of the overall plan. But for the most part, you’ll have better luck getting buy-in if you can demonstrate how your request ties into the plan and adds value.

Get your *stuff* together – Your execs are busy people with many important things on their minds. Walking into an office with an attitude of “Um, I kinda have this idea and I was wondering if I could maybe get some budget to try it” isn’t going to cut the mustard (why mustard, incidentally? Who wants to cut mustard?).

Get prepared – Write up as much of a plan as you can—phases, resource needs, budget, ROI potential, etc. If you’re uncertain about major details, they’ll be uncertain as to why you’re wasting their time.

Pick your battles – You’re a smart person, and I bet you have a lot of awesome ideas for ways to improve your marketing. But you’re probably not going to get the go-ahead on all of them. Don’t make a habit of pestering your marketing execs with every little thing that comes up or they’ll just start saying “no” as soon as you open your mouth. Start small, prioritize and demonstrate the value of what you’ve accomplished so far.

Know your audience – Some execs want a fully written proposal for what you’re asking to do. Some just want the highlights in a quick Power Point slideshow. Some prefer to discuss things over a nice cobb salad. Some want facts and figures, while others just need the big picture. Tailor your request to speak to these preferences. Talk to others in your department (or even better, their EA if they have one) for advice.

Tried and true, my friends. If I knew at 13 what I know now, who knows what I could have convinced my parents to let me…

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