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  • Alfie Dawson

How to effectively tighten your marketing budget without compromising on quality output

With the economic climate as it is right now, cutting back on costs is inevitable for business survival. While there are many ways to do this, cutting back on headcount is the most common. Here's how you're doing it wrong.

Mistake: Retrenching the wrong people

Companies tend to downsize from the bottom up, leaving the top-paid, strategic thinkers in place but removing the key workers – your creative production line.

It's counterintuitive because retrenching employees lower down on the chain leaves a room full of people talking about what could be done to bring in sales, but no one left to do the work. If you traded in the art of delegation, you'd be a billionaire.

Most CEOs couldn't tell you what a particular staff member does in a day. Shaking your head in indignation? Go on – list five things your graphic designer worked on today. No idea? That's ok – no judgement here. You've worked hard to get to where you are and earned the right not to keep tabs on your employees. The problem with this is that your main access point to your employees is your senior team members. With this as your only touchpoint, this is where you see productivity happening.

Granted, a management team is an integral part of an organization, but this is different from where your tangible, physical output lies.

Do it right: Get back down to company level and figure out who is responsible for your output. Who makes your business thrive? Letting these employees go will leave you overwhelmed and unproductive. You'll end up hiring them back in two years, costing more money in the long run and losing clients in the meantime.

Mistake: Reducing the wrong department

It's common knowledge that the marketing and sales departments are the first to go in tough times. Why? Because, on the books, they're the most expensive.

It's counterintuitive because your marketing department brings in clients, and your sales department closes the deal. You're backpedalling on growth and revenue.

A recent Bloomberg article states, "Tens of thousands of tech sector job cuts may not be enough to reverse the collapse in share prices, given the looming economic downturn could slash companies' revenues far more than the cost savings they make via layoffs."

Enough said.

Salesforce Inc. announced a 10% reduction in its workforce. Amazon cut 18,000 jobs. When employee numbers are culled – no matter how drastically – confidence in a company's performance, stability and profits drops in the court of public opinion. Panic sets in. Without a marketing team, there is no one to provide assurance that all will be well. No one is telling the world about your company. They're all off updating their CVs.

Do it right: Find other ways to cut costs without losing value. However, sometimes an organization's only option is to tighten up the ship but losing all marketing function is business suicide. A cost-effective alternative is to outsource this role. You'll be able to reduce your workforce and cut costs, and your organization won't lose this core asset so essential to business survival. As a bonus, capacity shifts to other essential business functions because the right agency will remove the bulk of the mental and physical load.


In times when it is essential to cut back on budget but increase growth, focus on putting your spend where productivity happens. Deciding where to save pennies in your industry may take more time to be evident than it is in an industry like engineering or construction. If you’re cutting back the marketing and sales department, ensure you have a strategy to increase growth with fewer in-house revenue generators. Considering viable options like outsourcing and analyzing each department's employee contributions will clarify this.

The wrong decision could cost more in the long term – the exact opposite of what you need to achieve.


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