How to Deal with a Shrinking Marketing Budget

By Warren Lutz – Contributing Writer

Your marketing strategy is obviously impacted by how much you can spend. But that’s no reason to throw your hands up in the air when your budget is cut. Here are a few ideas about where to start when forced to manage with less.

Don’t just think—rethink.

marketing budget management

Everything changes. It’s a universal rule, and it invariably includes your market. So when is the last time you truly examined your overall approach? Are you really targeting the “right” customers? Are you spending too much effort on low hanging fruit?

Look at other successful players in your market or sub-market. Where are they placing their efforts? How active are they on social media? What seems to be working for them?

Go on a quest to find the answers, and share the results of your analysis with your team and brainstorm ways to spend the money you do have more wisely. You might not be able to compete dollar for dollar every competitor. But you will almost definitely learn something, and maybe even discover an untapped opportunity to get your message out.

Roll with the (social) changes.

If you are still relying on old-school advertising methods because they have been successful in the past, it may actually be a case of diminishing returns. That’s because print advertising is being eaten alive by the Internet, social media and mobile devices.

social media vs print marketing budget planning insights

According to Statista (see chart), Google now makes more money in advertising than    all print media combined. And yet, according to this May 2012 presentation from Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins on Internet trends (see slide #17), advertisers continue to overspend on print while missing Internet and mobile advertising opportunities.

Regardless of your approach to traditional advertising, there’s no excuse these days for failing to maximize your online exposure and not properly leveraging free platforms like YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Try a little PR.


In terms of accessing your audience, the judicious pursuit of appropriate PR opportunities can be extremely cost-effective.

Most sure-footed marketing vendors have a stable of writers ready to assist with writing press releases, and many trade publications and TV outlets invite industry executives to comment on business and consumer trends via interviews and guest articles – as long as the approach is not too sales-y.

Speaking opportunities at conferences and industry events can also be an economic means to gain exposure to targeted audiences.

Become a resource.

Webinars, surveys, white papers and video presentations are great ways to build and fortify relationships with prospects and clients by educating them on major trends and events happening in their industry. Invite partners and industry experts to participate. Conduct polls in your market and share the results online and with the news media and blogosphere.

Need more food for thought? Your marketing vendor should have plenty of ideas to get you started. The point is that a lower budget will decrease your options, but there are still choices to make. Making them wisely is really the only way to go.


Additional Resources:


Poynter: The one chart that should scare the hell out of print media

How to Cut Your Marketing Budget and Build Your Brand Profitably

A Data-Driven Reality Check for Your Marketing Budget


Further Reading:

Fortifying Projects Against Cost Overruns

Communicating Project Scope With Your Vendor

2 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Shrinking Marketing Budget

  1. As long as we are talking motherhood and apple pie, let’s not forget about another basic marketing principal–think ahead. Will your audience or product today be the same tomorrow? If your audience or product mix is shifting to something different, consider putting in place marketing programs now that feed this audience in the near term. Getting to an audience early is less expensive then getting to them once they have made up their minds. Careful planning and strategic spending can then stretch your budget while preparing for this new product or audience.

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