When is the last time you felt confident in the health of the global economy? While there has been some marginal growth over the last year, today’s financial news points to a second economic decline; whether it’s the US debt ceiling crisis or the threat of a Greek default, all signs point to a double dip recession.
But don’t lose hope. Whether we’re on our way up or sliding back down, with careful thought and planning, you can cut costs without limiting your goals.
Below are ten tips for stretching your marketing budget in uncertain economic times.
1. Cut where you can – This is the first and most obvious step. But it is important not to cut arbitrarily. Doing so may lead to greater hardship in the long run. Instead, analyze past campaign performance and cut from the areas that were least successful.
2. Renegotiate contracts – Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. It doesn’t hurt to attempt renegotiating vendor contracts, even if the expiration date isn’t near. If market prices are lower than when you initially signed, ask that the price be lowered to today’s rate. Chances are good that your vendor values a contract renewal more than the higher rate.
3. Share resources – Many organizations, especially within marketing departments, have moved to a shared services model. One of its benefits is greater accountability around resource management. Think about your own finances. If you pay for your water bill, you are more likely to turn off the water while brushing your teeth. But sharing resources doesn’t have to be all about pinching pennies. It can offer an opportunity to utilize services you can’t afford on your own.
4. Lean on PR – If your marketing team isn’t already working closely with the PR team, set up a meeting tomorrow. A partnership profits both parties. PR can benefit by utilizing marketing created content (although it may need edits to fit a media outlet). And marketing can ensure it gets the most out of PR by helping to identify the publications most likely read by potential buyers. Even adjusting the links in articles, press releases and boilerplates can help drive potential leads deeper into the sales funnel.
5. Ask for discounts – It’s easier to pay full price with money in your pocket. Likewise, when your bank account is low, it’s easier to walk away. Don’t be afraid to ask for deeper discounts. And if you have to say ‘no’ all together, you’ll simply have more money to put toward another budget item.
6. See where you can spend to save – Stretching budgets isn’t all about cutting. You may find that increasing your spend in one area allows you to reduce costs in another. For example, if you’ve had a strong return on investment with SEO and online advertising, increasing this budget may allow you to reduce spend on other lead generation efforts.
7. Expand roles – No one wants to be overworked, but most will welcome the opportunity to build the skills that will help them meet their career goals. Talk to your employees and find out what they want to be doing that they aren’t.
8. Go vintage – A fashion trend from two years ago is ‘old’, but a trend from twenty years ago is ‘vintage.’ Take a look back at those forgotten marketing campaigns to see what you can reuse. Pay particularly close attention to campaigns from before your tenure. A fresh pair of eyes can pull out the best features of a previous campaign and turn it into something new and exciting.
9. Barter – Tough times call for creative measures. Renegotiating contracts and asking for discounts aren’t the only way to save money with vendors. Where it’s feasible, don’t be afraid to ask for a barter arrangement. Just make sure to crunch the numbers to ensure you don’t lose out in the end.
10. Make better use of technology – From teleconferencing to digital asset management to workflow tools, sometimes we need to get in the habit of using something to see its benefit. And sometimes we just need a little help in learning how to use it. Spending a few hours reviewing help documentation, online tutorials or engaging in a user community can save exponentially more time.
How have you stretched your marketing budget? Please share your tips in the comments.