How to Safely Reduce Marketing Costs and Budget

Gartner’s The State of Marketing Budgets 2021 showed that marketing budgets made up only 6.4% of company revenue last year.¹ That number might not mean a great deal in isolation so we’ll just go ahead and tell you that it’s the lowest in the history of the survey and it fell sharply from 11% in 2020. Despite the sharp downturn, we don’t expect anyone reading this to be surprised by the news – as marketers, we are used to feeling the pinch when it comes time to assess company budget allocation.

However, we also don’t believe it to be a reason to go with the flow and pay less attention to your marketing costs and budget. If anything, you should do the opposite. Studies of previous downturns actually indicate organisations that continue to invest in their marketing strategies tend to fare better than those that don’t. 256% better, in fact.²

So how do you balance this equation? The answer is actually quite straightforward: optimise your existing set up and re-invest those savings wisely. The folks at McKinsey agree:

“When done well, spend management can free up as much as 20 percent of a marketing budget… and serve both as a foundation to weather the storm and a catalyst for future growth.”³

In this article, we’ll look at how technology and more specifically brand management software (BMS) can help you reduce marketing costs WITHOUT committing to a strangled approach that could never increase sales. 

Suggested reading: Having consistency is another key factor to your brand’s growth and survival. Take a look at our eBook The Brand Consistency Toolkit to find out how you can achieve it.

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Step 1: Improve workflow efficiency

It would be insincere of us to talk about every facet of your workflow because:

  1. We don’t know what it entails.
  2. We can’t realistically claim to be experts in everything.

However, what we can confidently talk about are the inefficient ways that brands, and the myriad of assets (graphics, video, logos etc.) that comprise them, are managed. 

We’re not exaggerating when we say improvements can be made at every turn. We don’t want to be vague so let’s focus on three core functions: 

  1. How assets are stored and accessed.
  2. How approvals are managed and communicated.
  3. How marketing materials are created.

More often than not, these tasks are completed using an array of disparate tools, some of which just aren’t fit for their intended purpose. We’ve encountered plenty of digital asset management (DAM) solutions that lack effective metadata frameworks, meaning tasks as simple as finding a specific file can take forever. We’ve witnessed approvals spread across multiple email threads. We know the slightest tweaks to assets often take a lot longer — and cost a lot more — than they can and should.

Given this section is about efficiency, we’ll just reveal that all this (and much more) can be handled effectively through brand management software and that the potential annual savings are:

  1. 724 hours searching for assets.
  2. £150,000 in marketers’ time.
  3. 6,017 hours creating materials.

We’re not telling you this because the ‘hard sell’ now guides our content marketing efforts. We think you’d like to know what’s possible for you to achieve when everything is handled through a single, effective system.

Note: The helpful stats above are courtesy of Brandworkz’s very own research into our clients ROI — check out our resource on Brand Asset Management? for more insight.

Step 2: Use templates whenever possible

We love originality as much as the next person but given the choice (and the context), we’d opt to work from a template every time. Here’s why:

  • Speed: Templates help you create assets quickly. Nobody needs to fret over which aspect ratio works on what social media platform; no one needs to dedicate energy to questions about colour contrast against different backgrounds. All anyone has to do is fill in the blanks.
  • Consistency: Working from a template will help even the most junior creative in your organisation make the right decisions. You’ll never have to waste time checking — or fixing — what’s been produced.
  • Customisation: We expect you’re well aware of why this is important. What you may not know is how painless modifying creative executions for different markets can be with templates. Perfect your set up and you won’t even have to re-open the approvals process before publishing.

Templates serve as a practical way to reduce your marketing spend without alienating existing customers or affecting how you are viewed by prospects. With the right software, alterations can be made without ever leaving the program. 

👉 Download The Brand Consistency Toolkit and audit how you store your brand images today! 👈

Step 3: Identify your best performing assets and double down

In an ideal world, every asset your organisation creates would bring customers in their droves. If we lived in an ideal world, we wouldn’t be writing articles on how to succeed while simultaneously cutting your marketing budget.

In times of hardship, it’s sound logic to stick to what works. If nothing else, it makes it easier to justify your decisions; let’s not forget you’ve already paid for your existing assets. It’s also a good idea to forget/avoid/consign to the annals of history those that didn’t perform quite so well. Banging that same drum in the hope of a different result only ends one way.

Getting the most out of those high-performing assets might be a smart way to succeed in spite of the restraints but without the right tools it’s not so straightforward. To achieve the best results you need to:

  • Know which assets are performing/due to expire at a glance.
  • Be able to make market-specific alterations in seconds.
  • Grant instant access to anyone who needs those assets regardless of where they are.
  • Do it all through the same program.

You probably already know we are about to say this is possible with the right BMS. 

Step 4: Streamline your martech stack 

Reducing the number of tools you use to produce, publish, monitor and manage assets will lower expenditure. Cutting back on the services you use for the sake of saving a few pounds is tantamount to self-flagellation. 

A more sensible approach is to work towards a set up that allows you to use ALL the tools you need to get the job done in the most efficient way. Getting the programs you rely on to play nicely with each other is a surefire way to make improvements — and as we saw in Step 1, those gains can lead to big savings. 

By fine-tuning your stack and nailing integrations, there are countless ways to streamline. For example, allowing creatives to access relevant, editable assets in the programs they use to produce deliverables — sounds obvious but it’s not a given — and enabling executives to upload files to your CMS without downloading from one system just to upload to another can shave valuable time from each task (not to mention improve the mood in the office.)

These might not sound like game-changing features but when they are applied at scale they can make a big difference.

Suggested reading: Keen to dig deeper on this topic? Check out our guide on how to get a handle on your marketing stack — Is Your Marketing Stack Getting Out of Control?

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A brand management system can help

We’ve probably already made this point more explicitly than we intended to but we’ll stand by our assertions. BMS can increase operational efficiency to the point where it brings significant savings (short term and long term) — and that money can be reinvested into your marketing goals. 

It can also improve output. Working from a single, reliable platform greatly reduces the chances of mistakes and inconsistencies and that’s without even discussing the intuitive brand guideline features that enable everyone to see precisely what they need to know.

BMS optimises everything from the way your company handles approvals (think status updates and annotations WITHIN the platform you use to manage assets) to how colleagues identify which logo to use and where. 

The Brandworkz system boasts all these features and more. If you’re looking at cuts that would otherwise affect your ability to create an effective marketing campaign but you understand the value of maintaining your spend in a downturn then we think you’ll get some value out of our demo. Hey, that definitely won’t affect your budget.


¹ The Annual CMO Spend Survey Research | Gartner
² When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Don’t Skimp on Their Ad Budgets | Knowledge@Wharton
³  An essential marketing tool in a downturn: Spend management | McKinsey & Company