There are clever and not-so-smart ways to bring your tech marketing budget in line as the market stays tight. Of course, the bigger the pizza (marketing budget) you start with, the less you need to trim to make given savings. Ultimately all marketing items can be cut if it means keeping a company viable. But some are more sliceable than others. To overstretch the analogy, not all slices are equally divisible, if you care about keeping the salami.
But which are most scalable?
As previously noted, Events are an in/out tactic. While some are moving on-line, there are disadvantages around networking, face time with customers and the ability to educate (or indoctrinate) users in a captive setting. There are clear advantages to reducing an event’s size, while maintaining production values, with local events. N.B.This may mean more work per show by the events team (internal or external)
Paid Web Search can easily be reduced by tracking a smaller number of Keywords and reducing bids on those that are producing average returns. This is the less-discussed flip-side of Search Engine Optimization and may indeed be what many are doing as we see with Google’s revenues dip.
Thanks to the wonder of CRM/email integration, Direct Mail Campaigns are very saleable. Want to turn them down without effecting response? Buy less and better lists, or spend more time segmenting the customer base and targeting them with a sub-set of products or features. This is Marketing Return On Investment 101, but some, who have grown up addicted to Adwords, need to learn this the hard way.
Communications (PR, BR and AR), when done well, creates content and messaging which is reusable across most other tactics. Case studies and press releases can be placed in product and sales presentations, Points of View and sound-bites, once tested with real-life smart journalists and bloggers, can become White Papers or CEO quotes or Direct Mail Campaigns. To save even more costs this need not all be done in-house.
Branding is another classic cutback which is traditionally difficult to justify short-term. However many brands make great headway in a recession and one reason as the barrier to entry reduces. Now is a great time to pick up talent and respond to competitors. When great brands can be scaled more quickly than ever (Blackberry, Twitter, Android) and others destroyed as quickly (Satyam, Skype, Sun) an ability to manage your brand can be strategic. This is not to say an army of brand consultants is needed, just that this is more than ‘Keeping The Lights On’
This will not be a massive shock, given what Positive does, but the area which provides the most ability to scale is the content-creation of Communications and Branding. Scaling back on the ‘delivery’ of messages be they Email or Direct Mail campaigns, events and PPC can bring short-term cost-savings but killing your creativity can be fatal. Scalable marketing tactics can be ‘dialled up’ quickly as confidence returns and prices rise, but you cannot build killer content in a hurry.