Opinion

The promise of budget cuts needn’t be a threat


Or why slashing marketing budgets could be the best thing to happen right now…

There’s much talk at the moment about the effects of massive reductions in budget, especially in the public sector. The new coalition Government has got structural deficits firmly in their sights and is taking the red pen to just about anything that it can find. The COI, in particular, are looking at something in the region of 40-50% swiped from their operating budget.

In the private sector, there are still some jitters following the recession and fears of a ‘double dip’ if the new Government’s plans don’t work out in the way that they have hoped.

In short, people are still somewhat reticent about putting their hands in their pockets – and this is going to continue to have an impact on UK marketing/advertising spend. Commentators and business leaders are looking at the situation and saying “How are we going to manage?”.

The current model suggests that if you can’t afford to buy your media space, then your awareness falls, your customer bases stagnate and it all gets generally unpleasant. This makes sense – if you are used to running massive outdoor campaigns and suddenly stop, the fickle consumer (who has thousands of ads thrust at them every day) will forget you and move onto a competitor. After all, if you can’t tell the world that you exist, how is the world going to know?

However, this current time of financial turmoil is presenting us – creatives, marketeers, advertisers and businesses – with one of the greatest opportunities we’ve seen for years: the requirement to shake things up a bit. We’re being forced into it thanks to the global recession fallout. And this is a Good Thing.

It’s easy, after all, to do what you’ve always done. You could spend £50k on a billboard campaign without really thinking about it too much. You could lash out another £50k on magazine advertising or DM. You could run XM opportunities until you got sunstroke. All without really thinking about it (aside from the usual audience segmentation/insight etc). You know what the audience reach and response is generally. You know roughly how many views you’ll get and how many conversions come through on average. And that’s OK – you know how your bottom line will increase.

But now you haven’t got the same amount of money. You still need to generate the leads and convert those leads into sales. You’ve still got to keep your brand awareness up and your business in the forefront of the consumer mind. These requirements haven’t changed – only your available capital has.

So it’s time to shake things up – to stop doing what you’ve always done (because it nearly always gets you what you’ve always got anyway) and try something different. Each pound is now going to have to do the work of three – so how are you going to make that happen? What changes are you going to make – structural, fundamental or conceptual – to allow you to hit your business objectives while not breaking the already cracked piggy bank?

This is one of the most exciting times for anyone in marketing or advertising. Or at least, it should be. Again we hear agencies crying out about the lack of funds, the difficulties of the market place, the lengths they are having to go to in order to win the pitch. All I often hear is fear.

We have the chance to do something different. We have the opportunity to reassess everything that we have taken to be true up to now. We have the need to rewrite the rule book and create a new model for integrated communications. This is the time to move out of doing what we’ve always done and into doing something new. This is the moment to start really thinking about the whole advertising and marketing spectrum.

Who could fear that?

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2 thoughts on “The promise of budget cuts needn’t be a threat

  1. Pingback: Killing your brand in one easy move? | interacter

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