Budget Tightening: Not for the Faint of Heart

So, we’ve got a conundrum here. Marketing budgets keep getting cut, yet expectations of marketers and the impact of marketing are steadily rising. What are ya gonna do about that, oh savvy marketer? Let’s take a look at how you might find new ways of conducting business that minimize the constraints of fewer dollars.

1. Scrutinize your brand positioning.

So many organizations do the “set it and forget it” thing with brand positioning. It sits on a shelf for years and years, with no one keeping a pulse on whether it is still relevant, differentiating and true, as it must be. Consumer needs may have changed, consumer values are ever evolving, the competitive landscape could have done a 180 when you were eyes down in budget management.

Triple-check that your brand positioning is:

  • Defining the highest-potential core target audience.
  • Articulating the motivation that audience has regarding their life/your category, and what indeed might give them pause or hold them back.
  • Establishing what your brand DOES for the target. If you’re still talking in terms of value props and benefits, you might not be all the way to a “DOES.”
  • Proving that your brand is credible in making this promise to DO. No dogs and ponies here please, although we love both of those things.
  • Locking in on your brand tone/manner. Ensure that it’s not creating a voice that is category table stakes. Force it to have a point of view.

2. Business objectives are just that. But it’s your consumer objectives that drive the business forward.

Have you defined your objectives and corresponding strategies based on consumer/business fundamentals? 

Here’s your checklist of to-dos if you do indeed have the above defined.

  • Have you established how you will track each of the consumer objectives? If not, we should chat (nudge, nudge, hint, hint).
  • Are you teaching your team and the teams above you how changes in marketing investment can will impact meeting these objectives?

3. Focus

Yep, we saw that involuntary grimace when you read that word. Focus is hard. We want to do all the things all the time. We often have robust discussions with clients about spreading dollars way too thin, across too many target audiences. The success of your marketing/touchpoint/communication/story stacking (pick the word closest to how your organization describes it) plan is dependent on the appropriate allocation of budgets and efforts.

For example, we have a client that used to develop social assets for seven platforms, one of which has twelve followers. Not a wonderful use of time, brain space or creativity.

Keep your radar up for when to walk away from an effort and when to increase focus. Consider a test and learn approach for tactics or investments you’re not completely sold on. But test and learn requires a corresponding measurement too, to do the, you know, learn part.

4. Evaluate the assets you’re working with, in light of pushing your brand positioning forward. (This was a test. Remember point 1?)

We get complacent with optimizing our messaging, particularly if we’re messaging in a million places. Have a real soul-searching session with your team to critique how your messaging compares to competition. What are you doing well? What are they kick-butt at? Learn from them, but don’t become them.

All that said, you and your team can do this. You can win at this game we call business and marketing. If you need some extra insights or brains along the way, that’s what we’re here for.