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So, you’ve got a great idea. You can imagine how it will look and the benefits that will come out of it. But you’ve got the challenge of passing it through the execs, and there’s always one that doesn’t agree with marketing, let alone understand it. Yes, we’ve all been there. So how can you navigate around the boardroom politics and convince these decision-makers into giving your great idea the green light? You need to build a compelling business case, and don’t forget the compelling part – it’s the difference between a yay and a nay. And what makes a business case compelling anyway? We’ll get to that further on, in the meantime, let’s cover the basics.

What is a business case?

A business case is a proposal that helps decision-makers understand the benefits, costs, and risks associated with a proposed investment, project, or new way of doing things. It needs to justify the allocation of resources you’re proposing towards a specific business opportunity, providing a framework for evaluating the potential financial and strategic impact on your organisation. But pretty much, it’s about what you put in, and what you’re expecting to get out of it. For inhouse marketers, a business case typically looks like a structured argument for investment in new marketing technologies, outsourcing tasks to an agency, additional staff, or expanded campaigns. As well as showing how these investments will contribute to your business’s overall goals and objectives.

What does a business case include?

Good question! Let’s dive in and start from the top:

Executive summary: Start with a concise overview of your proposal, the objectives, and how you recommend taking action. This bit doesn’t need to be an essay. Keep it brief to quickly inform the senior management so you can move on to the important part – ‘why’.

Problem statement or opportunity: Now describe the problem you’re looking to address or the opportunity you want to exploit. This outlines why your proposal is necessary and what business needs it aims to meet. You’re marketer, so this might be where you add your market research.

Options analysis: Outline an examination of the different options available, including a ‘do nothing’ scenario (for avoidance of doubt), to address the problem or seize the opportunity. This analysis should compare the benefits, costs, and risks associated with each option. Of course, there’s always going to be an option you’d prefer to use, yet might not succeed. So, be prepared to go into details with all options might this be the case.

Proposed solution: Now provide a detailed explanation of your recommended solution, including how it addresses the problem or opportunity, the resources required, and how you plan to implement your idea. This is where you should put your strategy hat on and include a marketing strategy that outlines your measurable goals and objectives. Develop mix of channels and messaging. You know what I’m talking about. But additionally, your execs are managers, so they’ll want details operational specifics, like technology, staffing, and the processes.

Cost-benefit analysis: Here’s the important part. What budget do you need to make your proposal work? And be thorough as possible, no one likes unexpected costs. This might include initial costs, ongoing operational expenses, and of course, your expected returns. Your returns should be a calculation of the return on investment (ROI) and don’t forget to include intangible benefits for good measure.

Risk assessment: Every investment comes with potential risks, and a business case is an opportunity to address those risks hands on, with details as to how you intend to mitigate them. Typically, risks usually involve finances, operations, and strategy.

Timeline: Every project has a timeline, even the on-going ones require a timescale and deadlines. A projected timeline for rolling out the solution, including key milestones, deliverables, and dependencies. This helps the senior management understand your project’s scope and duration.

Impact assessment: Finish with the benefits. This might be an expansion of the ROI you mention in the cost-benefit analysis but should definitely outline the impact on various aspects of the business. These might include financial performance, operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and competitive position.

So, what makes a compelling business case?

To overcome the doubters, the don’t knowers, and dare we say, the haters, you should aim to bring a compelling argument. So, what can make your business case compelling? It’s proof. Here’s some proof you can add to make a compelling business case:

Data: You can’t argue with it, providing the data is relevant. It gives proof that you’re on to something. If you haven’t got data, then run a pilot version of your proposal, even if it means considerably scaling it down. Those results will give you a bit of juice for your business case.

Market research: Which is often more data but again, it’s proof! For the best chance of success, make your market research as thorough as possible. Think of yourself as the executive. What questions might you ask? What loopholes would you look for? Aim to satisfy these with market research or other proof.

Case studies: Has a competitor done something similar? Or is your idea to counteract a competitor’s activity? Or did your idea come from competitor activity? Use their success to demonstrate the potential.

Appendices: Don’t overload your execs with information and resources. Use appendices for them to refer to, highlighting the important facts that support your proposal.

So, there you have it, something to help you build a compelling business case. Ultimately, it’s about overcoming scepticism and bridging the gap in understanding with a data-driven, robust framework that outlines the benefits, costs, and potential impact of your proposed marketing activities.

Need a hand?

Are things not working but you’re stumped for ideas? Maybe you want to push through an ‘it’s always been like that culture’ but don’t quite know how. For fresh ideas and new ways to connect with your B2B audience, work with Beach. Our proven strategies deliver impact, growth, and ROI. Fill in our contact form below to get started.

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