CMO Coffee Talk ‘Aha! Moment’: Making the Case for Brand Investments at Growth-Phased Organizations

4 minutes
Dec 01, 2021
Digital Marketing

Editor's Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz...

Editor’s Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing co-hosts these dynamic, illuminating conversations with 6sense CMO Latané Conant.

 

In the past, I’ve said that early-stage companies must earn the right to invest in brand by first focusing on demand.

But based on a recent CMO Coffee Talk session, it looks like I was wrong.

The session focused on brand measurement and management. And as the conversation unfolded, it was clear – through examples, success stories, evidence, and data – that brand investments by growth-phase companies are not only common among the most successful startups.

Statistically, there’s a direct link between companies that invest in brand early and those that hit their revenue targets more consistently as well as grow more rapidly and predictably.

We saw this in benchmark data shared by Insight Partners analysts highlighting the higher brand investments (as a percentage of marketing budget) by companies in growth and scale phases of maturity.

We also heard anecdotal and quantifiable stories about brand investments (dollars and resources, not necessarily the same) that had multi-layered and sometimes surprising ROI impact on the organization.

Insights from Benchmark Research on Brand Impact 

Some highlights from the data:

  • Strong brands drive 6x to 8x more shareholder value than weak brands
  • Early-stage companies that do not invest in brand end up playing expensive “catch up” in later stages to offset too-high demand and overall acquisition budgets
  • Measuring impact is one of the leading reasons why growth-phase companies don’t invest (or stop investing) in brand

Insight Partners also shared a five-part criteria for measuring brand impact:

  1. Awareness
  2. Power of voice
  3. Engagement
  4. Perception
  5. Internal

Not all brands are equally strong (or weak) in these five areas, but knowing your brand’s current state can help you know where to invest (and what ROI will result) into a new year. 

Making the Case for Brand Investments 

So how do you make the case for brand investments in your 2022 budget? The CMO discussion revealed a few best practices: 

Tie Brand Investment to Pipeline 

This can be done three ways:

  • Show the direct pipeline contribution (growing over time) that brand investments make in parallel to direct demand programs 
  • Show the incremental lift in demand program performance (for example, higher conversion rates) when the “brand halo” helps to increase response 
  • Show an increase in win rates when your brand is “known” in the industry and therefore more often included in the core consideration set with ready-to-buy prospects

Think Beyond Budget 

Brand impact (and ROI) happens not just with dollars spent on branded campaigns. It happens with consistent positioning to the market, with a consistent point of view executed throughout your go-to-market motions, with a strong, common voice and approach to communications.

These require resource allocations and a disciplined focus on brand as strategic priorities, and serve as a foundation to strong brands (as well as often a predecessor to brand campaign spend). 

Create vs. Buy

Today’s most successful B2B marketing programs aren’t a collection of media buys.  A higher and higher percentage of growth-phase marketing budgets are investing in creation – content, communities, commercial insights and research.   

These investments (when aligned with the foundational brand elements referenced above) not only reinforce and strengthen your brand position but also provide assets that can be leveraged across departments and throughout the buying and customer journey.

Get Your Peers on Board 

Brand is not a marketing investment; it is an organizational investment and imperative.

When it comes to budget season, get your cross-departmental peers involved and on board with making the case for brand investments. Help them see precisely how a stronger brand will directly impact their own objectives and metrics.

CEOs, CFOs and boards who hear a constant theme and ask across the leadership team are far more likely to give you the green light to move forward. 

Coming Up on CMO Coffee Talk… 

In our next CMO Coffee Talk meet-up (which is just around the corner!), we’ll deep-dive into sales enablement strategies and tactics that work. 

Which programs are working for leading B2B companies today? What tools are foundational to their revtech stack to support the sales organization? Which departments own sales enablement in the first place? Find out soon!

Join Our Thriving Community! 

If you’re a B2B CMO or head of marketing and want access to a community of your peers (1,300 strong and growing) as well as numerous specific ABM-related resources, benchmark reports, tactical examples and more, we welcome you! Click here to apply for membership.