How to Adapt to a Reduced Marketing Budget
August 5, 2020
It’s hard to think of a sector where creativity and profitability collide more often than they do in marketing. This naturally can lead to a lot of valid debates regarding the merits of quantity vs. quality.
The truth is, if you’re like most marketers these days and your budget is smaller than usual, facing extreme scrutiny, or both, the best way forward involves finding a healthier balance between quality and quantity.
At a time when many marketing departments face new constraints, this post explores how to handle this challenging situation, as marketers are compelled to get more creative in thinking about profitability.
5 Ways Marketers Can Get More Bang for Their Budget
Granted, no marketer wants their budget reduced, but it’s important to keep in mind the positive outcomes that tend to occur when we are pushed to examine our spending habits with a more critical eye. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Focus on Doing Fewer Things Better
As part of its annual survey, the Content Marketing Institute asks marketers about the various tactics they use. As of 2014, B2B marketers used an average of 13 marketing tactics.
While there are certainly advantages to having a diverse mix of tactics, it’s also easy for B2B marketing teams to overextend themselves. Each new tactic brings with it the need for expertise, strategy, planning, tracking, optimizing, etc. And while it’s not always easy to let go of a tactic, by carefully culling the non-essential approaches from our mix, we empower ourselves to focus more granularly on what we do best and where we can (and must) do better.
By forcing restraints upon ourselves, and using only the most appropriate channels and tactics, we can be selective and pursue projects more diligently, without the static of numerous overlapping initiatives. As a result, marketers will do fewer things, and with more focus theoretically do them better.
Better Define Your Standards
One of the biggest gripes marketers have with “quality” is that the term is too often used arbitrarily. If one marketer says quality has been achieved while another declares it hasn’t, that’s a problem. Granted, we’ll never be able to entirely remove the gray area from conversations about quality, but we can clear up much of it.
Think about each of the channels and tactics you use. What’s the goal of each? Of all the metrics you could use to track it, which is most indicative of success?
Too often we tend to carry over the same goals and metrics from one tactic to the next, when in reality, there’s a more fitting metric that isn’t being used. It may seem trivial at times, but making sure we’re chasing the exact right goals and tracking the exact right metrics is especially important in determining the value of longer-term branding campaigns where the ties to revenue aren’t as direct.
Additionally, it’s vital that we know what quality means because otherwise we’re simply guessing as it relates to budget allocations. With a stronger sense of our own “unacceptable-to-exceptional spectrum,” we can be more sure about how and where we’re investing both our money and our attention.
Below, Bain & Company provides a visual model for companies looking to redesign their marketing plan in response to the pandemic.
Expand Your ABM Program
In line with this more focused, selective approach, account-based marketing is gaining more appeal, and more companies are coming to embrace its benefits.
If you’ve been meaning to refocus your tactical mix, and you’ve been meaning to expand your ABM program, good news: these two priorities can go hand in hand, so consider getting started through your ABM initiative. Get the process moving with help from our B2B Jumpstart to Account-Based Marketing Guide.
Become More Effective at Measuring and Proving ROI
Marketers are being challenged to prove the ROI of their efforts now more than ever. Strengthening our ability to do so is highly advantageous in the big picture.
For example, brand awareness is critical to B2B marketers’ success, but unless we properly measure these efforts and demonstrate their true worth, it can be difficult to gain executive support for them.
It’s important for marketers to consider the long and short of marketing ROI. More specifically, when marketers attempt to measure ROI too soon, they often sell their own efforts short. That’s too bad, because the last thing we want to do is adopt a negative view of campaigns and initiatives that are actually highly effective in the long-term.
It’s also worth noting that measuring success in uncertain times may be different. The ROI equation can look different than it did months ago and that's okay. Simply use the data at your disposal – like newer or contextual industry trends or benchmarks – to adopt realistic objectives and quantitative targets.
For many teams, this downturn represents a prime time for shoring up weaknesses with attribution. Not only will this allow you to more precisely allot future spending, it will also help to ensure your marketing team gets proper credit for all the sales you contributed to.
Make Sure You’re Maximizing Organic Marketing Opportunities
When the budget gets tight, what better time to re-center on organic marketing tactics and how to do them well?
Yes, these days, fewer buyers are making it to the narrow part of the sales funnel and even fewer are becoming customers, but that’s only temporary. What hasn’t changed is that buyers are still busy engaging with content and researching solutions to their problems, which is why there’s never been a better time to grow your brand’s organic following on LinkedIn. And there are plenty of actionable tips in LinkedIn’s “Your Organic + Paid Playbook.”
The bottom line is, while it may be less than ideal to navigate these times with limited resources, the adaptive reactions above will benefit marketers in the long-term. Because when budgets inevitably normalize and rise, we’ll be able to confidently assert that we’re investing smart quantities of time and money and securing quality outcomes in return.
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