By Chris Tew, senior vice president Asia Pacific, Alterian.
Lately, we have again been reminded that the state of the Australian economy is hugely affected by European and Asian markets. There seems to be a difference in opinion: are we going into a second global financial crisis? Or are we just experiencing the windfall of the first one? It can be difficult to make sense of the shifting economy and companies, big and small, need to be especially innovative while making the most of what they have.
Marketers know all too well that uncertain economic times call for creative ways to stretch the marketing budget – but where to start? As many will be facing expectations to deliver on key targets, while also keeping up with the newest market trends and technologies, I have put together a list of 10 tips for stretching the marketing budget, allowing cost cutting without compromising business goals.
1. Cut where you can – This is the first and most obvious step, however, the challenge is not just cutting randomly. Instead, evaluate past campaigns and learn from mistakes so you can cut from areas that were least successful.
2. Renegotiate contracts – It doesn’t hurt to try and renegotiate wholesale contracts, even if the expiration isn’t up. If market prices on a particular product are lower than when you initially signed up, then ask that the price be set to today’s rate. Chances are the salesperson values a contract renewal more than the higher rate.
3. Share resources – Many organisations are moving towards a shared budget within marketing and communications departments. One of the main benefits is greater accountability and flexibility around resource management as well as access to services that previously seemed beyond reach.
4. Lean on PR– If the marketing team isn’t already working closely with the PR team, set up a meeting tomorrow. A partnership benefits both parties as the research undertaken and content created by the separate units may supplement the other and provide valuable insights – there is no need to reinvent the wheel so to speak. On a practical level, even adjusting the links in articles, press releases and boilerplates will help drive new leads into the business.
5. Ask for discounts – Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts, after all, who doesn’t love a bargain? If you have to turn down the offer altogether, it just means there is more money to put towards another item on the budget.
6. See where you can spend to save – This may seem a conflicting idea, but stretching budgets isn’t all about cutting back. In fact, increasing spending in one area could make room for a splurge in another. For example, if Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and online advertising works well for your business, then increasing spend in this area may allow for financial reductions on other lead-generating efforts, thereby increasing the bar tab at this year’s Christmas party!
7. Expand roles – No one appreciates being overworked, but most employees will welcome the opportunity to build on a skill-set that will help them meet their career goals. Find out what employees want to do at work and it may prove to be a win-win situation.
8. Go vintage – A fashion trend from two years ago is ‘old’, but a trend from 20 years ago is ‘vintage.’ Have a look at those forgotten marketing campaigns to see what can be reused. 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 – Necessity is the mother of invention. For marketers, this translates into renegotiating contracts, asking for discounts or even soliciting a barter arrangement, which is when you provide a service or product in exchange for something of equal value. To ensure everyone is a winner, have the agreement in writing.
10. Make better use of technology – From teleconferencing to social media monitoring to workflow tools, adopting a new technology can seem like a hurdle at first, but often it’s just about creating new habits that will increase effectiveness. Spending a few hours reviewing manuals, participating in online tutorials or engaging in a user community can save you more time in the long run.