It is no surprise that there have been countless articles recently about the impact of the pandemic on all facets of business — and Marketing has been no exception. A LinkedIn survey in May found that 74 percent of marketers listed budget cuts as one of their top challenges.
Over the years, I have noticed that marketing budgets are often one of the first to be cut during a downturn — whether pandemic-based or not. Unfortunately, when a company needs revenue most, that’s the last place cuts should occur.
In a recent post, my colleague outlined several key actions for Marketing and Sales to take during a crisis, especially one that has affected so many traditional in-person marketing channels. However, with the effects of the pandemic continuing far longer than anyone initially expected, it is important for Marketing and Sales to not just “manage” the crisis, but also build out their systems, processes, and campaigns for the new normal.
Don’t cut costs at the expense of driving revenue
Even during a pandemic, there are still potential customers out there that have problems to solve and need help. As my VP of Sales has noted, during a downturn, “the smaller deals take just as much work as the big ones.” In order to keep driving revenue in a time of uncertainty, it’s important to ensure that Marketing is doing even more to support the entire deal cycle from lead creation to close, along with client retention and expansion efforts.
Cutting down Marketing’s ability to drive pipeline and revenue has far-reaching impacts beyond the bottom line. Yes, marketers need to become smarter, identify the key channels and campaigns that are proven to drive revenue, and shift resources from unproven areas, but blanket cuts can hamper revenue-generation efforts — and aren’t so easily recovered when businesses realize they need to change course.
Having that agility depends on having the systems and processes already in place to accurately and predictably measure your marketing efforts. But even if you don’t have all of those in place, with even a basic Marketing Automation platform, processes, and CRM, it is possible to identify areas that are contributing better than others. Then, you can prioritize building out your capabilities to drive revenue more efficiently.
The time to build out your emergency kit is before you have an emergency…
I grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains, at least a half an hour away from the nearest town. Each winter, we would regularly have our power knocked out during a storm, many times accompanied by landslides that would partially block the roads. However, we were always prepared. My parents always had plenty of wood, propane lanterns, and extra gas for the generator and cars. But the reason they were so prepared was not just because of foresight; it was also because of the close calls when there wasn’t quite enough gas to run the generator or there was wet wood that took forever to start a fire.
I was also living there when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit less than five miles from my house. This was a disaster that was anticipated, but was impossible to fully comprehend until it happened. We lost our well, and we had to bring in water for almost a year until it could be drilled again.
Looking across my clients, there isn’t a single one that has anticipated the magnitude of the impact of the pandemic. However, the ones that are weathering it best are the ones that have been able to use what knowledge and insights they had to refocus their marketing efforts to the places it really matters — while also continuing to build out more capabilities to optimize further.
Like the impact from the earthquake, the current downturn isn’t going to go away in a month or even six. Cutting down marketing and sales capabilities has the adverse effect of making it impossible to drive the revenue needed to get through it.
Shift to a “revenue” mindset
As my COO is fond of saying, “Revenue is revenue.” We’ve been reading (and living) the shift in marketing from unquantifiable marketing activities towards revenue accountability for the past 10 years. This has only been made possible by the creation and adoption of the systems and processes to trace and then track all of the activities between Marketing and Sales that actually drive revenue. This experience of continually pushing towards revenue creation is what inspired the development of the D3 Methodology for marketers.
During a downturn, Marketing’s impact on driving revenue growth becomes even more critical. Optimizing conversion paths, cleaning data for precise targeting, honing the buyer’s journey, and modifying nurture messaging (amongst others), must all be done with the end view of “more revenue.”
This might mean pivoting to a client-centric set of campaigns to create more value for existing clients. Or, it may mean targeted microsites to rapidly get prospects the information they need now, instead of just directing them to the resource section of your website.
However, in any situation, it means making sure that you have the systems in place to accurately capture, track, and report on your efforts and their results.
There is hope
On a positive note, marketers are equipped these days with the tools and knowledge to accomplish more with fewer resources. Sometimes the complexity of the current marketing and sales ecosystems can be daunting (just look at the MarTech Landscape!). But that is where tools like the D3 Methodology can help prioritize and navigate what must be done now and what can wait until later.
So, don’t cut back your efforts to reach out to prospects and clients. Just do it more efficiently and more effectively.
Ryan Johnson develops and implements marketing automation strategies for DemandGen clients. As a DemandGen Consultant, he has helped clients across a wide range of industries to streamline and optimize their marketing and sales processes to drive measurable success and ROI.