Many marketing budgets are subject to changes throughout the year, based on first half results and second half expectations. But now, almost every marketing budget has already undergone significant upheaval due to the COVID-19.
Now is the time to conduct a marketing budget checkup and make the necessary adjustments to put yourself in the best possible position to achieve success for the remainder of the year.
Here are some questions to ask while reviewing your budget situation:
Have your company’s business goals or marketing goals changed?
Your company may have had to re-calibrate its business goals, resulting in marketing goals changing as well.
Perhaps a scheduled product launch is being pushed out or you are scaling back from one of your markets. On the other hand, maybe you have new opportunity with products and services that are in higher demand.
Make sure your marketing goals are aligned with any changes in business goals, and that you reallocate your budget accordingly. If you do need to change marketing goals, choose goals that are relevant to your situation, measurable, and achievable given your budget.
Are you anticipating additional financial changes?
Another round of budget adjustments could be on the horizon come the fourth quarter. If this is a possibility for your company, you may want to hold some of your budget back and plan only for the next quarter.
Consider using programs that allow you to make quick adjustments in terms of reallocating budgets and resources. One example would be to reduce paid search spending and instead invest in webinar development, or reallocate tradeshow budget to ramp up email campaigns.
Can you take advantage of cost-effective channels?
Social media, email, and public relations are examples of channels where you likely have already invested fixed costs and built marketing infrastructure. For example, you already have social media profiles set up, an email marketing platform, or a media relations expert.
If your budget is under strain, you can—with very little cost—post more often to social media, email your house list with special campaigns, or pitch story ideas to media outlets.
What about partnership marketing?
One budget-conscious marketing initiative is to team up with a partner that has a complementary product and service line and a potentially shared customer base.
For example, you can conduct joint- or cross-promotions of each other’s offerings, co-author marketing content, or develop co-hosted webinars. Partnership marketing allows you to reach a wider audience without investing more budget.
Do current customers need more attention?
There’s a well-known saying that it costs seven times as much to find a new customer as it does to keep a current one. If you need to make difficult budget decisions, make sure you don’t skimp on your current customer base.
Your customers want to know the state of your business and how your company is responding to current market conditions. During times of uncertainty, your customers are more likely to continue doing business with a familiar and trusted vendor than to take a chance on the unknown. Stay in touch with customers. Let them know you are there for them. Consider developing a special offer just for current customers.
Do you have three marketing budgets?
As part of your mid-year budget checkup, you can benefit from developing three different budget scenarios for the rest of the year:
- Best-case scenario—if business returns to some sense of normalcy, what is your best-case budget and how will you allocate it to achieve your marketing goals?
- Worst-case scenario—if the economy continues to drag and your markets don’t recover, what are the bare-bones marketing essentials that you must continue to fund? (Such as your company website or your email campaigns.)
- Realistic scenario—Chances are neither the best or worse cases will come to be. So what does the most realistic scenario look like? Build your marketing plan for the second half of the year around the most likely situation, and you’ll still be ready to adjust up and down if you’ve built all three budget scenarios.