Getting More from Less: How to Succeed on a Reduced Marketing Budget
In our previous article on the topic of constrained marketing resources, we explored how teams last year faced the conundrum of having to deliver ever more with continually shrinking budgets.
We talked about the need, in this era of ongoing economic uncertainty, for marketing teams to be ruthless, to think long-term, and to be distinctive to maximise results.
Unfortunately, the trend looks set to continue well into 2024, as reports swirl around the possibility that the UK had entered a technical recession at the turn of the year and huge numbers of businesses are experiencing serious financial distress.
To help marketing teams rise to the challenge, in this blog FS Partnership explores what it really means to be ruthless, why you should play the long game and the importance of being a stand-out player.
Take No Prisoners: Why Marketers Need to be Prepared to Make Cold Calculations on Strategy
When budgets shrink, it’s vital that marketers are prepared to abandon what’s not working. And in some respects, trimming the operational fat shouldn’t be difficult when we consider that a 2022 survey found 58% of marketers fail to utilise over two-thirds of their Martech stack’s capabilities.
At FS Partnership, we think it’s important to take stock of your current tech and ensure you’re maximising its potential before investing in more. Assess campaign performance rigorously and eliminate tactics which are not delivering on long-term goals.
Ruthlessness also opens up the space to be more flexible.
It enables you to build agile processes to test and learn, and shift budgets to high-performing initiatives. By simplifying operations, it’s also possible to cut unnecessary complexity that constrains adaptability. This opens the door to relentless prioritisation and focus, through which you can achieve greater efficiency even with fewer resources.
However, in rapidly changing conditions, there can be a temptation to focus on short-term metrics. While we recommend moving in and out of areas of opportunity, it’s essential not to get distracted by weekly KPIs. The danger is losing sight of the long-term.
Playing the Long Game: Everything You do Now is About Preparing for the Next Upcycle
When facing short-term pressure, it’s tempting to sacrifice brand building for immediate sales impact. Resist this urge. Consistent brand investment during downturns drives faster growth during recovery. You can read one of our previous articles about this here.
Research has shown that firms which maintained or increased ad spend through the 2008-09 recession recovered revenue quicker than those which cut back. Brands, including yours, are built over years through regular visibility and engagement. Indeed, it’s a law of nature that prospects simply don’t buy on a single exposure – it takes multiple touches to convert awareness into sales.
This is why it’s paramount to maintain sufficient budget for brand content, social media and thought leadership to nurture prospects throughout their journey. And this work should be done in partnership with sales colleagues to optimise high-funnel activity and equity. Consistent investment now will enable you to capture demand faster when markets improve.
Standing Out from the Crowd: You’re a Name Not a Statistic
With prospective customers being more selective in their spending, being distinctive is key. In a survey last year, 78% of tech buyers said their choices had been positively influenced by providers that had demonstrated their uniqueness.
That’s why companies need to build a value proposition that highlights their distinct strengths and resonates emotionally with various target audiences’ needs. To get this right, involves testing messages to uncover what will make prospects choose you over competitors.
Finally, think about the language used in your marketing. Avoid clichés like “innovative” or “best-in-class”. These are arguably meaningless and blur into the background. Instead, focus on uncovering and amplifying your authentic difference, from your technology to your culture and customer approach. Focus your proposition on strengths your competitors lack.
You should also increase the perception of value with engaging content like case studies, which demonstrate real-world impact. Distinctiveness attracts interest and preference, cutting through indifference to make buyers favour you.
Smarter Basics for Tighter Times: This Could be Your Company’s Most Inventive Phase
In challenging conditions, FS Partnership advises that marketing leaders should get back to basics by elevating ruthless prioritisation, long-term brand building and distinctiveness. This involves obsessive levels of performance monitoring, shifting budgets to high-ROI activities, and eliminating waste. And even though prospects will also be grappling with tight budgets, it’s crucial to stay visible and keep nurturing demand. With the right approach, reduced budgets can drive fresh ideas and new approaches rather than leading to limitations. By mastering marketing fundamentals now, you’ll be empowered to thrive and accelerate growth when markets improve.