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How can you make smart marketing budget cuts so you don’t have dangerous repercussions later? We are all having to make tough decisions right now, but we can prevent these tough decisions from being stupid ones that lengthen the crisis period. This especially applies to marketing, seen by many CXOs as a “cost center.” It’s only a cost center if it’s not enabling your goal attainment.

marketing budget cuts

‘Feel the fear and do it anyways’ has been a mantra of mine for a long time, because I’ve learned that my emotions aren’t truth. Just like the clouds temporarily turn a blue-sky grey, emotions can temporarily hide the reality of any given situation if you let them. It’s ok to feel fear; we’re all human and it’s impossible not to feel anxious and nervous. But it’s not ok to BE fearful. To be is what you embody. It’s the decision to let your emotions take control and turn into words, decisions, and actions that rarely lead to success or a life well-lived.

What You Do Have to Spend

So, let’s take stock on what you can do today to protect your business AND your future.

First of all, your resources are not limited to your cash. You (and your entire team and your prospects) have attention, time, and money. All three of these ought to be allocated thoughtfully and intentionally.

Secondly, you need to look out to the horizon every so often. Today will turn into tomorrow… April will turn into May and 2020 will turn into 2021 and so on. All things change and pass, so what needs to be true in the future? What has to continue to exist as the calendar pages turn? I’m not being cerebral here. I’m literally asking you to imagine the future you want in order to help you make decisions now that create that future. You can’t cut everything down to zero unless you’re ok with creating the imminent end to your company.

Speaking of your team, let’s take stock of their talents… specifically your sales team. In the B2B world, relationship selling is still the norm. (Warning!) This means that most if not all of your sales team SUCKS at cold calling and prospecting. This…is…not…going…to…change. I’m not hating on salespeople; I’m advocating to set them up for success in this new environment. People hate it and they won’t lean into an area that can be insanely soul stealing. They like selling to people that already like them. They’re great at closing deals, but if your pipeline just dried up like a Texas creek bed in the August sun, you need marketing to refill that pipeline. In my 22-year career in sales and marketing, I have literally only known 5 people out of thousands of business development pros who were gifted at cold calling and prospecting. Do one of those five work for you? I doubt it.

(In a separate article, I’ll teach on Account Based Marketing, which is a strategy for sales and marketing alignment to target your VIP prospects. So, yes, your sales team has work to do, but just make sure it’s the right work and that you’ve built the toolbox to help them be successful. Stay tuned…)

Pruning Not Felling

I acknowledge that many businesses need to make cuts to their marketing budget right now to stay alive, so how do you do that without being like one who cuts off their nose to spite their face? There is a huge difference between pruning to ensure future abundance versus felling a tree with no hope of regrowth.

Reframe your marketing into a perspective that focuses on keeping your business viable now and ready for regrowth later. Your marketing should pave a road to revenue. If your efforts don’t enable sales, cut them.

At Blender, we organize marketing into the Seven Fundamentals.

  1. Strategy
  2. Branding
  3. Website
  4. Digital
  5. Advertising
  6. Trade show
  7. Sales and marketing alignment

Think through where you spend attention, time, and money in your marketing, and realign your current available resources to the fundamentals that pave the Road to Revenue.

For most B2B companies, you should spend on



Digital Marketing

Sales Alignment

You should cut areas within


Traditional Advertising

Trade shows

For most companies, their largest areas of spend are in Advertising and Trade show, so many of you will find overall cost reduction, even if you reallocate some of these resources to digital marketing and sales alignment.

Strategy SPEND Spend on time and attention. Spend money if you worry that your messaging and targeting isn’t strong enough to be effective. If you lack strategy, all other spend will be wasted.
Branding CUT Cut execution, spend time planning and strategizing.
Website SPEND Spend what you need to ensure that your site can convert interest into inquiry and build proof that your company is worthy and any other areas that align with digital marketing or sales.
Digital Marketing SPEND Time connecting it to the strategy and money to get warm leads quickly.
Advertising CUT Cut anything that doesn’t create a conversion to a highly effective call to action.
Trade show CUT Cut, but take the time to prepare your digital marketing to maximize this investment when it comes back and set up your ROI expectations.
Sales and Marketing Alignment SPEND Spend time, attention, and money to create content that gets meetings, move marketing into the prospect and objection handling space, simplify your sales process, improve your offerings, focus on client retention, and double down on account-based marketing (ABM) for your VIP prospects.

One Caveat

The only caveat to this is if you have cash to scale and grow in these times, the chart will be wildly different and depend solely on what reserves of time and attention you have to give to the ROI of your marketing spend. Now is the time to win if you have the money to invest.

Your Point of View will Ensure your Success or Defeat

I’m nothing if not practical, so I want you to hear me clearly. I’m not being overly optimistic. I too have a business where every day we’re tightening our belts where we can, while extending our reach and ability to serve others at the same time. A crisis means there are a lot of problems to solve. Where can you offer relief to others? If you are solely staring at your P&L and thinking only of the danger you are in, you will only see danger. It reminds me of the Bible story of Jesus calling Peter to walk on the water with him. When Peter kept his gaze up, he was able to take miraculous steps forward; it was only when he looked down and focused his attention on what could swallow him (instead of what could save him) did he begin to sink.

What are you giving your attention to?

Last year, my business took some very difficult hits and I went through a period where all of my questions where framed around what was I doing wrong? But guess what? The answer to that question would never propel us forward. I learned that some surprising doors were opening for us, but I hadn’t been able to see them because I continued to stare at the doors that had been shut in my face. (I was Peter.) My business turned around and even with this crisis, what we learned is allowing us to receive and give hope… and even harvest opportunities that seem hidden right now.

Feel the fear, but don’t be fearful. This too shall pass… and you might be transformed for the better because of it.

We’ll be posting a free toolkit of resources to help you build a new Road to Revenue. You can get a preview here.

Dacia Coffey is a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer and CEO of The Marketing Blender. She’s known for marketing strategy and messaging, and has assisted in over 100 organizational transformations by aligning sales and marketing.

The Marketing Blender is a full-service B2B marketing agency focused on accelerating revenue for clients in technology, manufacturing, and professional services. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.