How to reduce marketing spend but not your impact over the next few months

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As we find ourselves responding to a Covid-19 pandemic with self-isolation and social distancing, companies in all industries are likely to take a big hit in sales that could last six months or more. This outcome is probable no matter how effective your marketing efforts are. But, it’s important not to switch marketing off completely. This is because marketing will

  • Maintain your market presence and brand awareness
  • Keep your customers engaged and show you’re ok and that you’re grateful for them
  • Enable you to take advantage of opportunities that may arise should markets and industries change drastically in your favour

In times of struggle, marketing is often the first department that is let go because it is seen as an overhead which must be cut. However, in those cases, I believe its significance and value in helping the company weather the storm it’s currently battling, is overlooked.

While marketing shouldn’t be closed off completely, understandably when sales are down you need to cut costs to keep the business going and hold jobs in place. So how do you reduce marketing spend without causing a lot of pain to those who provide it or putting extra strain on your business?

1. Negotiate a fee reduction

If you use a PR agency or marketing consultancy, consider negotiating a temporary fee reduction with them with the agreement that you’ll commit to stay with them for a set period of time. Often agencies are on three months’ notice but if you can commit to six months’ notice, the agency may agree to reduce the fee immediately.

Please note, by fee reduction, their daily rate remains the same, you just reduce the number of days and the output.  You do not ask them to do the same amount of work for less money. They will be struggling as a result of Covid-19 too.

2. Audit your marketing efforts

This is a good time to stop and take check of all the marketing activities you’re currently undertaking and the effectiveness of them. Unless they’re really making an impact on your brand, customers and prospects alike, do they really need to be continued right now? Take stock and adjust accordingly.

Also, stop and think about how your target market will be affected by Coronavirus. Will your activity still reach them? For example, are you planning on running ads on public transport or in airports? Do all you can to stop them.

If your target audience is one of the groups likely to be self-isolating for the next few months, what is a new way to reach them? Perhaps they’ll be watching more TV or will have more time to spend on social media or to read news. Be prepared to PIVOT and it could not only reduce your spend but ensure you’re still reaching people.

Do this review exercise fortnightly or even weekly if you can.

3. Revise the next 12 months of plans, at least

Are you planning campaigns right now for summer and beyond that are based on mass gatherings or travel? Stop them before you spend any more money on them. Experiential marketing and stunts are not going to be of use for some time. Think about what people will be doing instead of going out and think long term. The latest reports say we could be looking at a year of this so Christmas will seem very different too.

Consume any articles you can from psychologists and other behavioural experts on their predictions for consumer behaviour during the pandemic to understand how your target audience might be feeling and what trends might be coming.

4. No one likes an ambulance chaser

Don’t try to be clever by reacting quickly to the virus. Frantically rushing, at great expense, to get an ad mocked up or a video campaign created to jump on the virus to attract new business is not recommended. Not only is the virus situation evolving so quickly that you run the risk of your campaign going out of date before it’s even launched, but any sign of ambulance chasing or insensitivity towards those affected by it could cause huge reputational damage to your brand.

5. Strip comms back

At this time of concern, worry and in some cases, panic, flashy colours, pretty pictures and high budget videos aren’t going to be in sync with what is going on. Ditch the fancy design and humour, and create email content or social media posts that are simple and from the heart. This will win more support than anything big budget.

6. Repurpose old content, reshare old stuff

If you’ve been running a busy content marketing programme up until this point, you have a wealth of content that you can re-share with audiences. You don’t necessarily need new stuff to maintain a presence on social media and other platforms. One new habit that may come from Covid-19 – as mentioned above – is that people will have more time to sit and read content so your old blog posts may get a new lease of life if shared again.

Still not clear what to do?

Need a little extra help? If you’re not sure how to do any of the above, we’re happy to have a free of charge (and obligation) call with you to run through options for how you can reduce marketing spend. Just get in contact with us at

We’re all in this together.

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