Worried about getting your 2023 marketing budget approved? Whether your concerns are due to economic uncertainty or a skeptical CFO, here’s our advice: do what works. In times of crisis and uncertainty, corporate leaders often look to the marketing budget to make cuts. But marketing leaders know (and we’re sure you know) that cutting off your marketing budget is never a good idea. Effective marketing is a long game, and consistency is key. The brands that cut back on marketing in a crisis will ultimately fall behind their competitors.
So, how can you bridge the gap between what you know is an effective marketing strategy (the sum total of those line items on your budget) and what your CFO wants to hear when it comes to cost-effectiveness?
Do what works. That’s the answer.
Here are the proven budget-friendly marketing strategies you should prioritize, the pitfalls you should avoid, and the best ways to position your ideas to get your CFO to sign off on your marketing budget.
Do: Make the most out of existing PR and marketing assets.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to create a successful marketing campaign. In fact, you may already have marketing assets available to you that can be repurposed, reused, recycled, and remade. And if you’re worried your audience will be bored with repeated content—don’t! Digital content is distributed so rapidly and so excessively that the chances are high that half of your audience hasn’t seen the content in the first place.
You can do this in a few ways. First, you can share notable press hits more than once. Share them as ads, social media posts, or on your website. In each instance, vary the format — include a quote, craft a “thank you” to the writer for featuring your company, or turn a piece of the article (like a statistic or data point) into a graphic image. All of these can be used in different formats, extending the use of your existing content (without adding high cost).
Don’t: Put a full stop on marketing and PR.
This should be obvious, but just in case it wasn’t: don’t stop your marketing and PR campaigns to stay on budget. You still need to create consistent, relevant, and new content regularly. Maintaining regular cadences in your marketing and PR strategies is essential.
Do: Invest in the channels, platforms, and forums that make sense for your brand.
You don’t need to devote time, energy, and effort to every available marketing channel—from print to social media—to have an effective strategy. If you need a better, budget-friendly marketing option, invest in fewer platforms. Just make sure that those platforms make sense for your niche. B2B, SaaS, and tech companies can likely skip platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and sometimes Twitter if they invest strategically in building a presence on LinkedIn. Similarly, if the majority of your leads come through digital channels (which is likely the case), don’t waste company money on physical marketing assets like brochures, business cards, print ads, and so on. Know your audience.
Don’t: Waste funds on unproven strategies, new tech, or niche platforms.
When the budget is tight or you need to prove marketing outcomes, it can be tempting to try something new, invest in a new platform, or go for the boldest idea to get big results. We admire the courage of those decisions (and sometimes they do work), but your best bet is always to stick with something that has proven to work for your company time and time again. At this time, don’t worry about the flashy marketing trends that your competitors are doing. Those will pass. Focus on the strategies that have worked for your company before.
Do: Maintain your PPC ads strategy.
As we’ve said about other verticals—social media, PR, and marketing in general—you’re playing the long game. The same is true for your PPC (pay-per-click) advertising strategy. Here’s the case for PPC that you can make to your CFO: you’ll be able to see and track the impact of these ads, and — as the name implies — you pay when someone clicks.
Related Reading: How Paid Advertising Can Help Your B2B Brand
Don’t: Shell out your entire budget for a single marketing vertical.
This principle applies across your entire marketing strategy. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; don’t shell out your entire budget for a single marketing vertical. Distribute your budget according to your priorities. Speaking of that, here’s how to discuss budget prioritization with your CFO:
Do: Prioritize digital channels over print.
First and foremost, a digital marketing strategy is more budget-friendly and, ultimately, more straightforward to track. Those two things are the messages your CFO wants to hear, so focus on digital in your upcoming marketing strategy.
Don’t: Spend money on events.
If you’re looking to maximize your budget, don’t spend your money on events at this time. While we have recommended events for our clients, and we think they are valuable as part of a networking and marketing strategy, they are costly, and the ROI is difficult to measure. The world is still returning to events slowly after the pandemic, so there’s no need to hurry your return. Instead of purchasing a booth or vendor spot at an event, invest your dollars in digital instead or send fewer representatives to the event (much less expensive than footing the bill on a vendor booth).
Do: Clarify your brand message.
As you double down on digital marketing, one thing is essential: your brand message should be clear. Does this sound obvious to you? Well, you’d be surprised how many brands are unclear on their message and sometimes even their mission. The benefit of digital channels is that they are ubiquitous. If your prospect visits your website once, they will likely come across your ads or have your social media posts show up in their algorithm. This is why your brand message needs to be clear, specific, and consistent across channels so that your prospects can recognize you every time they engage with your marketing content.
Don’t: Start a new marketing campaign from scratch.
When working with a tighter marketing budget, it is not the time to start a new campaign or build a new marketing strategy from scratch. Both of those initiatives require a certain degree of risk and necessitate a level of uncertainty. If you’ve never tried them before, how will you know if they succeed? Instead of starting something new—pursuing a new niche audience, trying an exciting campaign, or pulling out all of the stops to invest in an innovative new marketing strategy—play the long game. Focus on what you know, clarify your message, focus on your target audience, and understand which channels are most effective for your brand.
Do: Optimize for SEO.
Your SEO strategy should be ongoing. Invest regularly in SEO and infuse your SEO research into the overall marketing strategy. The terms that are used in SEO can also be distributed throughout your social copy, in paid advertisements, on your website, and beyond. Optimizing for SEO is something you shouldn’t neglect.
Don’t: Forget social media.
Social media marketing is a critical component of any modern marketing strategy. But how can you justify the time, effort, and resources it takes to build a strategy if your budget is already tight? Think of it this way: social media marketing is the best way to stay on your prospects’ minds and the fastest way to distribute updates or new information without reworking your website, starting a new email campaign, or building a new strategy altogether. It’s a small but mighty way to reach your prospects and customers.
Related Reading: How B2B Brands Can Attract Gen Z on Social Media
Ready to bring your ideas to the table and talk with your CFO? Marketing is a long game and if your budget is tight or your CFO is skeptical as they tally up the line items on the budget, stick to this message: marketing is a long game.
Looking for more guidance on building an effective, targeted, and impactful marketing strategy? Reach out.