As economies move upward and downward, the first thing that corporate governance will want to do is cut expenses – and marketing is an expense. What will matter most now is what should be prioritized, how to track your marketing, and how to show a return on your marketing investment.
What to Do If Your Marketing Strategy Needs to Change—Or You Don’t Have One
If you currently have a marketing strategy, first do a quick assessment to see if it needs to change.
How effective has it been in the last 90 days? The last 30?
Are you still getting leads?
Is your product or service something that is in demand despite current conditions?
Has the strategy been internalized by your team?
If the answers to these questions suggest that your strategy is working, then you don’t need to change it just because other people say you do.
If your marketing strategy does need some adjustments, or if you don’t have a strategy, here are some questions to help you revise or create a quick strategy that will get you through the short-term:
Who is most likely to need my services now? In the next 30-60 days? In the next six months? These are the people you need to reach.
What are their biggest challenges right now? These are the pain points you need to address if you want to get their attention – and their business.
How can you help them overcome some of those challenges? This is the most important thing you need to talk to them about.
What will be the number one question that they will want to have answered about your services, your company, or your process? You will need to answer this question for them before they consider doing business with you. The best way to answer this is by looking back at the most frequently asked questions from clients and prospective clients from the past year. If almost everyone asked a variation of the same question, that’s the question you need to answer up front.
The answers to these questions will form the basis of your revised or new short-term marketing plan. As an added bonus, you may also gain insights that prompt you to revise your business model or sales strategy.
How to Execute on a Strategy with Limited Marketing Budget Resources
Once you’ve arrived at a short-term strategy (or you’re moving forward with your existing marketing plan), you need to allocate your budget toward implementation. The two things you need to execute on a marketing strategy are tactics and people.
The MVP Approach to Marketing Tactics
Often talked about in the tech world, “MVP” means “minimum viable product.” Put another way, it’s the least developed something can be and still be usable. It’s not the best, most complete version; it’s what can function enough to move the ball forward.
When you have an unplanned reduction to your marketing budget, taking the MVP approach will help prioritize how that money gets allocated. The best way to determine your marketing MVP is to look at what you would be doing if the budget wasn’t an issue, then identify what the trimmed-down version is. For example, can your ad spends be cut and still reach the needed number of people? Can you shift from doing printed marketing pieces to digital ones? Is there a way to streamline your social media production and management?
Making the Best Use of Your Available Marketing Resources
Now that you’ve decided what to do and why you’re doing it, you need to actually do it – with less budget and possibly fewer people. Here’s how to make it work:
Do a quick assessment of (1) how many people hours you have at your disposal per week and (2) the general skill sets of those people. This shouldn’t be an overly detailed, time-consuming activity. The point is to identify where your gaps are and what you can reasonably expect of the team you have left.
Compare this list with the skills and amount of time that will be needed to achieve MVP marketing and assign appropriate tasks to the right people.
If there are skills gaps between what you know your team can cover and what you need, determine if those could be closed with a very small amount of training. If so, you can allocate time and budget to that training to close those gaps.
Line item the “hard” marketing expenses you may have: software, ad spends, printing, etc. Are there less expensive alternatives that you could use for the short-term? Deduct the hard marketing costs from your available marketing budget.
Look at the remaining gaps and prioritize them from most important to your immediate business goals to least important. Closing the most important gaps is where you will need to allocate a substantial portion of your remaining marketing budget for the time being.
The current situation won’t last forever, but there have always been and will likely always be times when marketing budgets are unexpectedly impacted. Having the ability to adapt and continue to build on your previous marketing success is crucial.
(And if you find yourself needing some marketing assistance, Marketing Department in a Box may be right for you.)