Tuesday 2¢: Budget, Priorities & Focus

This Tuesday 2¢, I continue to preach that the aim of B2B marketing is to create ART (Awareness, Revenue, and Trust), but to do that you need a budget, priorities and focus.


Currently, I am building an agency, wandering the world free of a masters lance (yes, freelancing) with some like-minded chums, working with a number of software vendors and marketing teams, big and small. From a Forrester and Gartner leading MQ/Wave vendor to a four-person start-up and a few in-between and they all have something in common, the need to prioritize and focus.

It’s something I’ve not only seen with our current clients, it’s a repeated experience throughout my career. It doesn’t matter how large or small your budget is, you have to keep your eye on the prize. A big budget can feel great, and some see a small budget as an excuse to fail, but marketing dollars are an investment and whether your stake is large or small, it still needs to make a return.

I’ve seen big budgets spent badly, money spread across too many initiatives or given to a marketing team that’s too small to keep the plates spinning and get a decent return on all that cash and I have seen businesses with tiny budgets and laser focus that have built decent pipeline. (Two businesses I am working with bootstrapped their pipeline by focusing on a single message, PPC and SEO and nothing else).

When I am entering an opportunity to work with a company, either as a full time gig, as a consultant or as an agency and the conversation turns to budgets, I almost don’t care about the size of the budget, I care about expectations for that budget and what can realistically be achieved.

Once you are handed the budget, it’s sometimes hard to say no, being a CMO is not like being a CFO, everyone feels qualified to have an opinion on marketing that would never question the EBITDA figures – yes, it’s a popular lament of our craft.

It’s easy to start distracting your team and budget with executive projects, the CEO (your boss) is probably the biggest offender, but just today, I had a compliance officer suggesting advertising at airports and another executive suggest an event that some random dude had been selling them.

My advice at this point, you ask “Does it create ART?” – but there is an important caveat, a follow-up question “Does it fit our priorities and focus?”

If you understand your priorities (to create your ART) and your focus, you are better placed to have these conversations. “Yes, Mr. CEO, if we do this, you will not get this, and the return will be this” and you can identify the plate that your team is currently spinning that will crash to the floor if you no longer focus on it.

If you have a big budget, the focus is probably more about your people and how deeply they can manage an agency led program, if you have a small budget then maybe the pinch point is the cash. I literally just interviewed a marketer for a role and it was clear from their experience with focus and a tiny budget, you can deliver.

So.. yep, we need to focus on creating ART, prioritize, and then our budget, big or small, will deliver.

If you are interested in this ART idea, you can read more here.