Article

Andrew Addison
Andrew Addison 28 July 2020

Should You Reduce Your Marketing Spend?

Right now marketers have a great opportunity to shake off the “it’s the way we’ve always done things” mentality and revisit marketing automation strategies and processes to create a “this is how we do things now”. Now is not the time to reduce marketing spend but is the time take stock of what you do and prepare the groundwork for future growth.

In this time of continuing global uncertainty, businesses and people are certainly struggling to maintain their focus – teams are working from home with normal (and brilliant) distractions of families around and communications networks under pressure (noticeable slow down at 9am for MS Teams and GoToMeeting, and Netflix/Disney+ has buffered a little too often at 5pm!). Most importantly though, customers are nervous, whether they are consumers worrying about the long term future (job security and health) through to businesses concerned about their ability to continue their operations “as normal” whilst in lock down for an unknown period of time.

Does this mean organisations should immediately be cutting every possible marketing expense?

The short answer is: no.

The long answer is: when has there been a better time to take stock of what you do and prepare the groundwork for future growth?

Consumers have experienced such significant change in the way that they interact with brands and vice-versa, that marketers have an opportunity to shake off the “it’s the way we’ve always done things” mentality and revisit marketing automation strategies and processes.

You can use this time, as teams are returning to work, to look at the wider capabilities of your technology (I’m not suggesting you change anything there!), the processes you use and the skills of the team to create a “this is how we do things now”.

Technology Capabilities

Our experience has shown that often, over time, organisations use less of the technological capabilities in which they have invested, rather than more. This is usually because…

  • …the users trained in the full capability have changed roles or moved on and handovers to new personnel tend to focus only on getting the current job done.
  • …teams are not aware of, or do not adopt new functionalities, as they are released by the software vendors.
  • …teams forget what the “art of the possible” was; the capabilities that convinced them how great the future would be after that investment.

Use this time to revisit what your marketing automation systems can do, what the functionalities and capabilities are, what both the quick-wins and long-term activities are that could leverage more of your platform.

Marketing Process

Many of the existing marketing automation processes you use have likely been built over a period of time and evolved to meet the needs of the business at that time. Many of these standard programs and customer journeys have been put on hold during the current pandemic. This creates an opportunity to…

  • …review. Look at your old marketing automation activities. What worked well? What didn’t work quite so well? Which ones will you switch back on and which ones will you leave off?
  • …evolve. What could you do better? What test and learn activities could you deploy? Could you automate or rationalise processes to speed up time to market?
  • …build. What frameworks could you put in place to prepare you for the future? Can you build more repeatable and maintainable procedures?

Team Skills

When organisations deploy a marketing automation platform, they invest in training for the incumbent team to ensure they know how to use the new system. However, it is surprisingly uncommon for businesses to continue that investment long-term, particularly for new starters. Take this opportunity to…

  • …set a benchmark. Ask your users to evaluate themselves against core functionality; are there any gaps that can be filled?
  • …provide advanced training. Most initial training focusses on the core functionality and not the more obscure (but often very valuable) advanced capabilities.
  • …establish peer review programs. No-one knows your business better than your team, reviewing challenges and successes internally can bring the entire team up.

So, no, now is not the time to reduce marketing spend but is the time take stock of what you do and prepare the groundwork for future growth.

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