How to make the most of a marketing cut

It’s a classic situation: You’ve been tasked with achieving long-term objectives, so you develop plans, secure funding and start implementing. Then the world changes and you pivot to address short-term needs with limited resources. [Cue the Advil.] Now the biggest question on your mind is:

What do I have to give up and how long until I can get it back?

We get the call after you get the news. And we feel your pain—all marketing budget cuts hurt. But some hurt more than others. Like when the cut is too deep and the risk to results too high. In those instances, we have to tell it how it is and then say what we can do. Other times we chase a moving target. Ambiguous asks like this can kill marketing momentum, especially if it happens every other Friday. But to the extent that the cut can be approached as pruning, it can be a valuable exercise.

Here’s how some companies have made the most of a resource reduction:

Do more of what delivers more

If you’re in the midst of a branding project and now face the difficult decision of what you can accomplish by go-live, you could focus your efforts on developing the critical building blocks and plan future expansion of the program. That’s how a client of ours solved this problem. We developed their messaging platform and website to easily accommodate additional storytelling. As a result, they have a dynamic digital hub that serves each of their personas with a growing base of downloadable content that doubles as sales support material.

Follow the money and fill the pipeline

If your immediate need is driving revenue or margin, one option is to prioritize high-value product leads over the promotion of your full product suite. This is the approach one of our clients took. Leveraging our lead analysis, they realigned resources against inbound and outbound marketing efforts that support gateway products, with upsell happening later.

Maintain the integrity of the plan

If you no longer have the resources to activate your go-to-market plan, you could focus on the elements that will give you the most impact and the most learning. That’s what we did when helping a client to launch their first global campaign. By shortening and streamlining our media buy to address key markets and peak sales time periods, we were able to adjust our execution and still retain message regionalization and conversion optimization.

Problem-solving under pressure is a pivotal time in your client-agency relationship. If handled well, it strengthens the bond. You work together to address challenging demands in less-than-ideal conditions, and you assess and rally behind what’s most important to you and your business. With each tough decision, trust grows. And that’s exactly what you’ll want in a partner when marketing dollars free up.


This blog first appeared on the Elevation blog at