How to squeeze everything into your tight marketing budget
How to squeeze everything into your tight marketing budget.
Many companies are asking marketers to get the job done with fewer resources in the year ahead. When you face a flat or shrinking budget, how can you get the most bang for your marketing buck?
Use these 10 ideas to align your marketing strategy and budget with the needs of your business or brand.
Protect what is essential in a tight marketing budget:
Sort out clearly What’s mission-critical? vs. What’s nice to have? Ideally, your marketing metrics show you what’s working and what’s not to guide your calls on investments.
Make your strategy clear:
Get crystal clear about the top 2 or 3 objectives your business needs to achieve, how you will measure success, and how marketing will help attain the objectives. Use a one-page marketing strategy to crystallize your plan.
Choose the right team:
In addition to your plan, review your people and their skill sets – can they do everything you need? How much will you invest to make sure their skills become even sharper?
The more skills you build in-house, the less you need help from outside. Essential skills are valuable, sometimes even irreplaceable in a crisis.
Do not cut training:
Don’t cut training budgets just because someone in Finance said you should. Instead, invest in sharpening skills so your marketing team becomes more strategic and valuable each year.
Continue to invest in building the right culture for your company and team. Many companies’ cultures are unravelling as people start year 2 of working from home. What investment will you make to keep people’s spirits up?
Focus on roles and responsibilities:
Clarify exactly who on the team does what, with job descriptions and performance agreements for the year ahead.
Map complex processes and make sure someone clearly owns each step. Especially focus on workflows and hand-offs. The more clarity you bring, the smoother your shop will run.
Clarify and simplify processes:
Many companies waste marketing budgets with ill-defined processes. For example, if reviewing marketing materials is taking more time than creating marketing materials, your process is broken and it needs to be fixed.
Marketing has to get trains to the station on time, but that’s not possible if too many people have their hands on the emergency brake. Ally with executives and business leaders who can help you clear a path to reset the review process.
For example, agree on the company’s marketing mission, strategy and message up front with a big-tent approach. It cuts down on review time later on.
Size up agencies, consultants, freelancers:
Make sure agencies and freelancers are still delivering what you need now.
Ask yourself: are they playing the role you hired them to play – to be your guru, guide, partner or helper? If you need a guide, but your agency sees itself as a helper, you may need a different agency.
A lack of clarity about the role of agencies is one reason why so many marketers bring agency work in-house. Three out of 4 marketing teams work with an in-house agency, says the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
Make sure employees are aware of their own fully-loaded costs (salary, benefits, office space, etc.) and how that compares to external agency costs. Such awareness enables everyone on your team to make good calls about what work to outsource and what to keep in house.
Do digital and virtual first:
During the pandemic, most marketers are funding digital and virtual experiences first, in-store and in-person events last. Prepare your plan to pivot back to in-person marketing when it becomes safe to do so.
Explore Account-Based Marketing (ABM):
In business-to-business (B2B) marketing, a mission-critical approach usually adds focus on ABM – working in lockstep with sales to win big customers, one at a time. Here’s a blog on how to win big customers with account-based marketing.
Rebalance types of media:
To maximize the value of your content marketing investments, consider reinvesting funds from paid media into owned and earned media.
Build your content base. Why?
- Owned media – your website, email list, blog, publications – will accumulate value as your content assets attract an audience over time. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO).
- Earned media – organic social media, news coverage, guest blogs, virtual appearances, speeches, thought leadership – help people discover your owned content. Point all earned media to your owned media.
- Shared media, like social media, can change the rules of the game and take your audience away, as the President learned abruptly. Since you’re building on rented ground with shared media, avoid any overreliance on it.
- Paid media should point to your earned and owned media to help you grow an audience of subscribers. If you need to invest more in owned and earned media, take resources away from paid media.
These 10 ideas can help you keep Marketing running smoothly and on course, even in rough waters with a tight marketing budget.