Cindy is a newly promoted VP of Marketing for a manufacturing company. She knows how to get things done, but she tends to get deep into the weeds. That’s because, for a long time, her job was about getting things done. You can give her any marketing tactics and she would find a way to implement them. However, now that she is a newly minted VP of Marketing, she is unable to pull herself out of the tactical level and instead focus on structuring a high-level budget plan discussion with her manager, who is the VP of Sales.

So, she purchased a 10-hour consultation package from me and asked me to work with her to create a plan to get more budget. Her company’s revenue is a little over $200M, but her budget is less than 1% of the total revenue and her team is small. She feels that she can do so much more for sales and her company if she has a bigger budget. She is right.

The first thing she sent me was her budget file with a laundry list of marketing expenses. Ok, that’s not the thing I want to see. The first thing I wanted to see is her marketing plan. I used her input to create the first draft.

Here is what is a simple one-page marketing plan can look like:

Business Goal: Achieve $220M in 2020

Business Objective: Grow new and existing business segments. (I asked her the revenue breakdown between new and existing segments.)

Marketing Objective: Build brand awareness and drive demand for new and existing segments

Marketing Strategy:

  • Position the company’s thought leadership by showcasing subject matter experts’ technical know-how and expertise
  • Build brand awareness by encouraging opt-in and engagement with high-level project managers and early career professionals in the target industries
  • Deliver solid MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) to Sales via Email inquiries and the Contact Us form on the company website


  • Number of content pieces created for outbound marketing
  • Target audience opt-in (subscribed)
  • Number of MQLs based on Email inquiries and Contact Us form

This is the executive summary that will get the VP of sales-oriented on the marketing plan.

Also, after reviewing this, I suggested adding one new initiative under marketing strategy: Enable sales via account-based marketing. To go with that, we added one more KPI which is marketing’s contribution to sales

The next thing I asked her to do is to categorize her budget based on Thought Leadership, Brand Awareness, and Demand Generation. After that, she can easily present marketing expenses based on the three strategies. Viola, she summarized a detailed list of marketing expenses that the VP of sales can relate to.

Let’s use brand awareness as an example.

Now she has the marketing expenses for brand awareness. Given that brand awareness is measured by subscribers, she can take the total marketing dollar on brand awareness divided by the incremental opt-in subscribers to calculate the cost per acquisition for opt-in.

All in all, the measurement of demand gen is based on the number of MQLs which are acquired from Email Inquiries and “Contact Us” requests. She can take the total dollar divided by MQLs to calculate the cost per acquisition.

For 2020, she can set up a new goal for subscribers and MQLs. With the new goals, she can multiply the cost per acquisition for opt-in by the new projected subscribers to get the new budget for brand awareness.

She can multiply the cost per MQL acquisition by new MQL goal to come up with the new demand gen budget.

These 2 numbers are just baseline. Now, she and I need to take other elements into account to make adjustments to the budget. For example, she wants to use paid search as a new channel to drive demand generation, therefore, the cost per acquisition needs to go up to incorporate the new marketing element. I also told Cindy that her cost per acquisition for demand gen is way too low, that’s one of the reasons she is not meeting the current goal.

In addition, I suggested to Cindy to add sales enablement such as account-based marketing as a new initiative to support her sales team. Using a new initiative to ask for an additional budget is a good tactic. The VP of Sales may not be interested in a budget increase, but he is probably willing to have a discussion with Cindy about ABM to support the sales team.

We went back and forth about the budget projections.

We made sure to calculate each budget item with proper assumptions and cost per acquisition. Cindy also made sure that she has some industry benchmark data to support her claims.

Finally, we created 4 slides. The first slide was about the overall marketing plan and KPIs. The 2nd slide was about 2019 and KPI status. The 3rd slide was about the projected 2020 budget by key categories. The 4th slide was about account-based marketing. Each one was supported with a table to show how we came up with our budget and key assumptions.

Additionally, I prepped Cindy on what to say and how to position the plan. Overall, the budget meeting went well. The VP of Sales had several questions for Cindy to follow-up. We didn’t get all the budget we asked for, but she received a budget increase to try paid search and ABM.

I understand every company’s planning and budget allocation process is different, some of them are very complicated. However, if you need someone to brainstorm with or give feedback and advice on your plans, please schedule a call with me. I’d love to help you.

Thank you for tuning in to B2B Marketing and More with Pam Didner. I hope you are working on your 2020 plan and asking for additional budget. Wish you the best of luck to get the budget you need for 2020,

I’d greatly appreciated if you subscribe to my podcast, like or comment.

Before you leave, make sure to check out the previous podcast episodes.

Have an awesome day!!


What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.