How to build a business case for an inbound agency
Looking to hire an inbound marketing agency but need to convince your business owners? You'll need a business case - Here's what to include.
Published: 26 Feb 2021
5 minutes read
What is a business case and why do you need one?
So, you’ve decided that hiring an inbound agency is the way forward for your business - the next step is to convince your higher-ups that this is the best decision for your business. For this, you’ll need to build a business case for an inbound agency.
But what exactly is a business case and why do you need one?
A business case is a formal report or presentation that you use to pitch a potential investment to your department from your board or C-suite. Essentially, the goal of a business case is to present a compelling argument as to why your business needs to invest in your suggestion. Without a well-researched business case, it’s unlikely you will be able to get approval for your investment, as decision-makers won’t see and understand the benefits. You could even think of a business case as an internal sales pitch.
Business cases are especially important when you’re looking to hire an inbound marketing agency for your business. Unfortunately, many C-suite executives simply don’t understand the key benefits of inbound marketing, and they often need to be convinced.
In this article, we’ll run you through the core elements of a business case for an inbound marketing agency, including what you need to prepare, how you need to present it, and what structure your business case should take.
What your business case needs to include
Why you need to hire an inbound agency
To start, your business leaders need to understand the need for an inbound marketing strategy. So you should start by explaining the fundamentals of inbound marketing, including why it’s increasing in popularity and how your business will be missing out by not using inbound. For information on this, see our resource.
In this section, you should make sure to cover key challenges in your business that lead into the need to use an inbound agency, for example, lack of high-quality leads, underperforming websites, lack of brand presence, and so on.
This can then lead into an overview of what an inbound marketing agency does and how they help address these challenges. It may be a good idea to frame this in a reward/risk format - outlining not only what your business gains from using an agency, but also what you’re missing out on in comparison to your competitors, and the consequences this will have for your business (for example, missing out on leads to competitors who have adopted inbound, or lack of digital growth leaving the business in the ‘dark-ages’)
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Provide key evidence of the benefits of an inbound agency
After you’ve outlined why your business needs to invest in an inbound agency, it’s a good idea to go over the key benefits of using one. In this section, you should acknowledge other options, and systematically explain why an inbound agency is the best option, and why other options fall short.
For example, you could explain that agencies have more dedicated staff, larger skillsets, and more combined experience than, for example, in-house marketing or freelancers. To learn more about some key benefits you can use, check out our resource.
Make sure that you elaborate on each point sufficiently, not glossing over important details and benefits. This is your chance to really get people on board by making higher-ups realise the benefits an inbound agency can bring to your business that they might not have considered before.
Demonstrate value and evidence for ROI
In this section, you should weigh the potential costs of using an inbound agency against the future plan and goals for the business. This of course means you should perform some detailed research on your business’s goals and plans for the next 6 months, year, 5 years, etc. This means you can then align the investment of an inbound marketing agency with this, demonstrating how working with one can help achieve these immediate and long-term goals better than any other option, and ultimately proving that there will be great return on investment.
This is one of the most important sections of your business case, as cost is always going to be one of the main obstacles - so you need to show ROI and why using an inbound marketing agency is the best and most viable option to meet your businesses goals. This is a good opportunity to prove your proposed agency’s evidence for ROI, such as through their case studies.
Here are a couple of key stats to get you started;
- Inbound marketing results in 61% lower cost per lead than traditional outbound marketing methods
- 54% more leads are generated by inbound than outbound
A summary of the key benefits of using an inbound agency
One of the final sections of your business case should be presenting the main key benefits of using an inbound agency. It’s important to do this towards the end, as your business case should build a journey towards this - being the key points to leave in your audience’s minds.
This is an opportunity to think about the key concerns your audience will have, and present key benefits that will address these concerns. The key benefits need to be clear, concise, and compelling - so using a bullet point-type format is useful, you might want to dedicate a slide to each, ending with a summary slide with all key benefits in a list.
This is an opportunity to summarise all your information and your key proposition into one final ‘pitch’, including a short summary of;
- Why your business needs an inbound strategy
- Why an inbound agency is the best option for this
- Key benefits of using an inbound agency
- Evidence of ROI and how using an inbound agency aligns with the business’s future goals
- What your business is missing out on by not using an inbound agency
Finally - Some key considerations for your business case
To close off, we’ll provide some key considerations you should make and tips to keep in mind when developing your business case;
Choose the best format
It’s important to consider which format will work best for your intended audience. This includes both your presentation and any documents or assets you’ll be preparing. Consider whether your audience will respond best to, for example, visual presentations, documents, spreadsheets, graphs, video, or any combination of these. Incorporate these as necessary into your assets. The important thing is that your business case is presented in the best way to engage your audience and effectively convey value. In general, it’s beneficial to have both a presentation you can talk through, with physical handouts for participants to read.
TOP TIP: Numbers and stats are a great way of indicating value and research, but too much can be tiresome. Make sure you break up your spreadsheets and breakdowns with visuals and video to keep your audience engaged.
Decide a rough length or duration
The length of your business case and the duration of your presentation are often just as important as the content itself. In short, you want your presentation to be long enough to contain all the necessary detail to convince your audience, whilst not being so long that you lose people’s interest.
This is, of course, easier said than done, and there’s no real guide to how long each business case should be, as it’s largely dependent on the specifics of your business, how many people you’re presenting to, who is being presented to etc. Just keep in mind that your presentation will likely go on longer than you might expect, due to the number of questions you will receive both throughout your presentation, and at the end.
You should also ensure any documents you put together are as concise and free of unneeded filler as possible, as it’s likely participants will want to read through it outside of your presentation. If possible, it’s always a good idea to get others to read through any documents you’re preparing and offer constructive criticism.
Consider your audience
Remember to always keep in mind who your audience is when preparing your business case. Do you know who specifically will be involved in the presentation? If not, can you find out? Is it likely anyone you’re not familiar with will turn up?
It’s important to understand the mindset your audience will be in, and the personality of each audience member and decision-maker. Try and get into their heads and think about what questions they’re likely to ask, what each of their priorities are, and how you can address each to leave every participant happy and convinced.
Prepare answers to key questions and rebuttals
It’s very likely that, by the end of your presentation, you will receive a lot of questions and rebuttals regarding your proposal - and it’s likely that some of this will be tough. That’s why it’s essential that you prepare well for your Q&A section, considering the key questions you're likely to receive, and preparing a well thought-out answer for each, to ensure you’re not caught out. Remember that the more clear and confident you are when answering these questions, the more convincing you are. Floundering at this stage could seriously harm your proposal.
It may be useful to go through your business case with trusted colleagues and gather their thoughts on what they think questions you might receive would be. It’s important to be as critical as possible - your audience will be.