A Useful Analogy for Marketing Budget Discussions

If you’re trying to justify a large marketing budget for the coming year, October is a great time to reference football. Not only is Q4 when budget discussions occur, there’s a seasonal reference you can drop into budget discussions with managers who avidly follow the gridiron fortunes of their favorite pro team or college alma mater. 

If you’re trying to justify more marketing dollars, talk a little football. It’s a useful reference  because you may not have realized how football resembles marketing. At least, the NFL version of football rather than the pass-happy version made famous by Texas Tech. 

Long a part of football gospel is the belief that you run to set up the pass. By gaining yards successfully on the ground, you force the defense to pinch in to increase its chances of stopping the next running play. Linebackers and defensive backs play closer to the line of scrimmage, creating more space for the opponents to throw the ball. Passing success dependably increases for teams that can successfully run.

What’s Marketing Got to Do With Football?

Instead of setting up passes to wide receivers, your marketing sets up sales teams for success. It’s something far too many companies overlook when they choose not to invest in marketing. 

Without marketing, you can sell. Yes you can. But it’s much harder. Your sales will also be almost 100% outbound because that inbound traffic and inquiries that marketing creates? Well, that doesn’t exist for companies that don’t generate inbound through marketing communications, events, digital demand creation, SEO, social media, etc. 

Without that, every outreach will be cold as no one will be calling or emailing you or responding to a digital campaign and entering the top of your lead funnel. Notwithstanding those extremely rare situations where products can sell themselves, a sales process unsupported by a marketing program will be longer, more difficult, more expensive, require more skilled sales personnel, and most likely produce far less revenue. 

Marketing Makes it Easier to Sell

You can play football and hardly ever pass. Some teams try that. Few succeed. And you can try to sell your product, service, or app without marketing. Some companies try that. Few prosper. They cold call and pitch and push prospects without having invested anything to establish a solid marketing foundation within the target market. Neither scenario is optimized for success or likely to approach even modest success. 

You need marketing to sell at scale. You need it to shape the opinions of others before you engage in one-to-one sales contact with them. You need to create a brand, develop product positioning and iterate messaging that convinces and converts. You need to translate these into an effective website and sales tools for the team. You need to demonstrate the value of whatever you’re selling and customer testimonials to provide objective validation of those claims. 

You need to present your product to people whose problems you can solve. You need to find people who can be developed into Marketing Qualified Leads. All of this is marketing. If you decide to sell through a channel, you can’t NOT invest in marketing because resellers expect reseller kits, FAQs, training and customer support documentation.

Eas(ier) Street

Good marketing makes sales so much easier. Just as an effective ground game makes passing yards easier to achieve, companies invest in marketing to create the optimal conditions for the sales team to earn their commissions. Which leads to lower turnover among sales reps and higher overall revenue growth for the organization. The next time you hear anyone discuss why they don’t believe in the value of marketing, throw out this football analogy. It may just push them to rethink the “why” of marketing before ever progressing to the “what they should do.”

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