Like many marketing leaders, you may find it challenging to accelerate the advancement of your social marketing initiative(s) because you are at a point where you need to articulate how your social marketing program(s) contributes value to your brand's business objectives. Whether you are launching a pilot social marketing program or a long-term corporate initiative, eventually you will need to get in front of your CMO and state your case for getting more budget and headcount to support your programs. Easier said than done? Well according to many marketers, it is. In fact, marketers tell us that ROI and measurement are the top two roadblocks they face when trying to advance their social marketing efforts — the very two things that the C-suite often demands when it';s time to allocate marketing resources. It's the ultimate marketer conundrum!

What are your top 3 challenges with social marketing


To help marketers overcome this challenge,we launched a research project to determine the best way to build a business case for social marketing. During my interviews with a variety of B2B and B2C marketing leaders, I was initially surprised to find how many do not follow a formal process to establish a business case for their social marketing efforts. Considering the shared skepticism among many executives regarding social marketing, one would think that a formal business case would be warranted. But after listening to some frustrated marketers during my interview calls, I realized that most simply lack the time, patience, and energy to build a well-laid-out plan that is informed by data instead of by gut feel. As one marketer exclaimed, "I need a tool that allows me to input some key information regarding my social marketing program and have it spit out a completed, ready-to-present business case!"

Benjamin Franklin once said, "The discontented man finds no easy chair." If you want those incremental resources, you must do your homework. The good news is that the payout will be well worth the effort. Only a few of the marketers I interviewed received a green light from their CMOs to move forward with their social marketing proposals. How did they do it? They crafted a "winning" business case that included:

Real data. Our successful marketers included insights from sources such as listening platforms, marketing systems, and web analytics. Those that did not have data available turned to third-party research to fill the gaps. Without data, there is no platform to build the business case.

Key RaDaR objective(s). An effective business case identifies the key RaDaR objective that helps establish the purpose of your social program or initiative. It answers the questions: Are you trying to extend reach? Provide more depth on your brand and products? Develop relationships with your customers? All of the above?

A detailed strategy. A good business cases lists the social marketing tactics that will be implemented. A great business case provides a detailed action plan that will help achieve the stated RaDaR objectives.

Key stakeholders. Stakeholders are the pillars that support the entire business case. They are critical to the outcome of the social marketing proposal. Successful marketers never underestimate the influence of key stakeholders and always involve them in the process of creating their business case

Cost/benefits analysis. Effective business cases include a quantitative and/or qualitative analysis that determines the costs, benefits, and risks involved with implementing or not implementing the proposal.

Impact to business outcomes. Every business case should clearly articulate the impact the proposed program will have on business outcomes. Will the proposed social marketing initiative help the company meet its revenue goals through increased leads? Will it help a cost-control goal through support-call deflection? Will it contribute to a rebranding strategy through positive brand sentiment?

Are you planning to build a business case for your 2014 social marketing programs? If so, you may find this to be a beneficial guide that will result in a confident "yes!" Let me know your feedback on this report, and please share your own experiences and best practices for building a business case.