Many comms teams are expecting to make budget cuts for 2021.
Protecting your budget is a matter of helping executives see the value and cost-effectiveness of marketing.
If you need to defend your budget, listen to your leadership team’s concerns. Then decide which of the following strategies will resonate.
1. Show off the data. Pull up the data from recent successful campaigns. Numbers don’t lie. Quantify the worth of what your team does and the impact they have on the wider company, including the bottom line.
Include metrics tied to customer acquisition and employee retention in your report. For example:
- Monthly subscriber growth
- Monthly recurring revenue
- Customer lifetime value
- Engagement rate
- Return on investment
2. Suggest cuts elsewhere. If cuts are necessary, look for other areas where they can be made. Look first for wasteful operations spending. For example, could you eliminate printing and mailing costs by going paperless? Or, could you cut software costs by removing users or going to a smaller plan?
3. Reference the competition. Compare your budget with that of your competitors. Are they making cuts, or are they doubling down? If you make cuts while they increase their communications and marketing spend, you may lose new or existing customers (and employees) to them.
Put together a forecast, and compare trends in your company’s market share to its past spend. Chances are, periods of higher marketing spend are also those in which you saw the most growth.
4. Look at your yearly goals. Your company has annual goals for its revenue, profit, or customer base. What steps do you need to take to meet those targets? Would cuts to your budget help or hurt your chances at achieving them?
If successful comms is key to achieving what you hope to accomplish, you can’t afford to make cuts. In fact, many business advisors try to warn companies from cutting their marketing and communication department in tough times. Those that do risk deepening holes they’ll need to climb out.
5. Take the long view. The COVID-19 pandemic looks a lot like the Great Recession of 2008. Consumers clamped down on spending for a time, but demand bounced back stronger than ever. Giving consumers extra help will keep them loyal. Penning a helpful e-book, putting on a physical event like a food drive, or simply offering a discount can reflect well on your brand.
6. Lean on freelancers. When you need to fill one-time needs or specific campaigns that your team can’t handle, outsource those tasks to freelancers. Freelancers can be up to 30% cheaper to work with than traditional employees, and they allow your team members to spend their time on something with higher impact.
And regardless of what happens to your budget, a freelancer’s reduced labor costs can make it go nearly a third further.
Whatever happens, put your budget to good use, and make sure your leadership team sees the results. Increasing your messaging efficiency and efficacy will help your business not just now, but well into the future. And that’s an argument most business leaders can get behind.