We’re under the gun these days to have flat organizational structures and lean budgets. Many of my peers have heeded this message and spent only what they need to on marketing. Here are my ten ways to review marketing costs and potentially save money without sacrificing results.
1. Are you testing new campaigns instead of committing full-spend on them? It’s less expensive (and less embarrassing) when you learn on a small scale. Many marketers fall prey to the “but I have to produce results right away” philosophy, but if this month’s campaign has an underlying problem that dooms it to fail, you won’t be producing any results with it anyway. You might as well learn it in a sampling test rather than wear down the prospect’s attention-span until you’ve got a campaign that really works.
2. Planning ahead with suppliers. A good way to save on printing, for example, is to run a current print piece together with the next piece you’ll need. The economies of scale can bring down the cost of each piece by half, maybe even more!
3. what can you do without this quarter? Have items slated in the budget for this quarter actually come into play or could you defer the costs?
4. What software tools are you paying for? Are there any open source equivalents? General applications may be IT’s prerogative, but you may be surprised what you can do with free marketing tools out there. Before you scoff, remember that many Google tools are built with the same features available in pricey counterparts.
5. Are you matching invoices back to P.O.’s? You should, even if your accounting department does it as well. When there’s an overage, do you research why and catalog it so it’s not repeated?
6. Watch that management layers don’t creep into your staffing. Even the most well-meaning person thinks they need more resources when they know deep down that businesses are premised on resource scarcity.
7. Are you only paying for the mobility (airtime charges, inter-office travel) that you need to? Sometimes staff can be more productive when they know certain things can ONLY be done at the office or in a single meeting.
8. If marketing bought something that’s benefiting other areas, such as subscriptions to online services, be sure to apply chargebacks. They may not be popular, but they give accounting a truer picture of your costs.
9. Compare what you spend on branding/awareness to lead generation – are they balanced? In most B2B situations, the buyer makes it their business to know what’s out there, so watch that you don’t pay to make them aware of something they already know.
10. Be wary of time-sensitive opportunities, such as print or trade-show sponsorships. They may seem urgent at the time and the vendors may apply pressure tactics, but remember that they weren’t in your marketing plan. There had better be a compelling reason why you would change your mind now.
BONUS: Evaluate purchases according to their shelf-life. This idea comes courtesy of Suzy Welch, who’s book 10-10-10 asserts that we ask “What will the consequences of my options be in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?” If today’s deliverables are a brand identity and a trade show giveaway, spend your time accordingly.
That’s the list – note that I’m not saying you should stop spending on marketing. The aim here is to not overspend OR underspend, it’s to spend exactly as much as you need. Also notice I didn’t say to scrimp on staff. Your people are your most valuable resource and it’s safe to assume that in the area of human capital, you get what you pay for. Though it could be hard to dollarize, we intuitively know that it pays to have smart, talented people on your team.