Room 301 Podcast 011 – Managing A Shrinking Marketing Budget During Turbulent Times

Posted on: July 13, 2023

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Rob Twells

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Join us on this episode as we delve into the world of marketing with our special guest, Kat Sale, Co-Founder of House of Performance. In this insightful conversation, we explore the challenges and strategies involved in managing a shrinking marketing budget. As economic downturns strike, many businesses face the dilemma of whether to increase their marketing budgets. Kat shares her perspective on this matter, discussing the potential benefits and considerations involved in allocating resources during challenging times.

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A Podcast for Marketing Directors & Marketing Leaders

Room 301 is a monthly marketing podcast ran by The Digital Maze, a specialist full service creative agency. We discuss ongoing themes, topics and news in the digital marketing industry to help marketing directors (and leaders) stay ahead of the curve. Show support by subscribing today.

 

Podcast Transcripton

0:00:07 – Rob Twells

Right, we are back and I have a guest. We have Kat Sale from House of Performance. Kat, how are you?

0:00:49 –  Kat Sale

Hi. I’m good, thanks. Excited to be here.

0:00:52 – Rob Twells

Thank you. Thank you for being here. Would you like to tell everyone your background, a bit about your business and how you came to where you are today?

0:01:00 –  Kat Sale

Crikey. Yeah. Okay. So I’ve worked in performance marketing for about 15 years, specifically PPC Paid Social Display, worked for a couple of different agencies, and then set up House Performance with my co founder in early 2021. We specialize in consultancy, helping brands basically get more out of different platforms that they’re using and or get more out of the teams that they’re using to run campaigns. And we also kind of manage campaigns for businesses as well. So we do a variety of work for, really any business in any industry. We don’t have a specialist industry. Just depends on what people need in terms of improving their performance and gaining trust in their team and campaigns. Yeah, that’s about it. I don’t know what else to say

0:01:54 – Rob Twells

I’m sure there’s more to it. We’ll get into that, but for the next half an hour or so, we’re going to be talking about the idea of managing budget constraints, especially in uncertain times. We won’t get into detail, but we know probably the last three years, I’d like to say it’s been tough. You’ve had pandemics, we’ve had cost of living crisis, we’ve had you name it, we’ve had it. And the impact of marketing has been big. It’s caused issues from a budget perspective, especially agency owners like ourselves, working with clients who have shrinking marketing budgets. So I’m here today to get your insight, Kat, really, on what your thoughts and feelings are on that. So, question number one. So when things do get uncertain economically, obviously we know marketing budgets can take a hit. So what advice can you share with other marketing leaders, brand leaders, etc, to help make them a sort of compelling case to maintain or even increase a budget in those times? Because I do think we’re the case to do that.

0:03:01 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, it’s such a complicated one, isn’t it, because it depends on the business situation. I mean, we had a client recently who the business was at a critical point where it was like, if they don’t focus solely on profit driving activity only and really pull back, the business could go under. But the marketing leader there made a really good case internally to keep certain things switched on. And I’ll talk about what in a minute, because if they didn’t keep certain things on, they literally would not have any sales, and that would be the end of it. So I think a lot of it comes down to the relationship that you as a marketing leader might have with the CFO. And if you can get them to obviously see the importance of whatever marketing is driving the sales, that’s number one. Right. Because if they can’t clearly see that, you’ve got no chance, really.

0:04:02 – Rob Twells

Is that by presenting data, historical data, do you think?

0:04:05 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, and I think some of it’s about not waiting for that point where the budget’s going to be cut. It’s actually about always having a foundation of knowing the board, particularly the CFO, knowing what is driving what, essentially because if, you know, say you’ve got a business that’s performing quite well at the moment, but you know, that potentially, I don’t know, for whatever reason, winter is a difficult time thinking ahead to that. Now’s the time to start talking to the CFO about, okay, well, this is driving blah blah, and we’re doing this here and maybe this area is not driving as much. So we’re going to look to move budget, like basically preempting it and then having that open dialogue about it. Does that make sense?

0:04:52 – Rob Twells

Yeah, absolutely. Do you think there’s a case to increase budgets in times like this? Do you see it as an opportunity or do you see it as a time to protect yourself more or is it dependent?

0:05:05 –  Kat Sale

It’s totally dependent on the business, I think. I mean, it depends what you sell, doesn’t it? If you sell something that is useful to people in time of economic crisis, why would you pull back? It’s a bit like if you think about when COVID hit, if you were one of the lucky people that sold hand sanitizer, you would not have pulled back, would you? Even though most businesses were pulling back initially on their marketing. If we think about the cost of living crisis, obviously the news on that has calmed down a bit because we’re in summer. But actually, come September, October, when people start thinking about their heating, that’s going to come back. It’s not going away. If you sell something to do with energy saving and that could be anything. That could be like renewable energy or it could be that you sell blankets sounds really obvious, but like something that can reduce you having to put the heating on. Why would you pull back in that time? You wouldn’t, would you? Well, logically you wouldn’t. So I think yeah, you’ve just got to try and think about it in that way.

0:06:16 – Rob Twells

No, absolutely. I suppose with any marketing budget, there’s always those sort of luxury things in there, isn’t there, that maybe don’t drive quite as much value as the other things, but they’re in there because maybe they’ve always been in there. Or it’s sort of a nice to have. Would you recommend identifying those bits and pieces and taking them out, or would you carry on with those?

0:06:35 –  Kat Sale

I always question everything that’s running, so even if times are good to me, whoever’s leading the marketing front should be questioning, what is the value of every single bit? So I don’t think it’s okay to say, oh, well, that’s always been like that, that’s always been there. We always run that. I think that every campaign, every platform that you’re running should be questioned to make sure it’s justifying itself for the role it’s meant to play.

0:07:04 – Rob Twells

Lead generation.

0:07:06 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, exactly. I mean, there’s a whole conversation about upper and lower funnel, which we can talk about, but whatever the campaign’s goal is, if it is not hitting it and can’t be seen to get there with a roadmap, then yeah, pull it back. But that doesn’t mean you have to not spend that money, it means that you could put that into something else.

0:07:25 – Rob Twells

No that makes sense. I think certainly one of the questions was having especially during a time where people were really thinking about their marketing budget, was sort of two ways. And I think you kind of touched on it there that sort of upper and lower side of the funnel. One’s very direct, one’s very 50/50. Put money in, get leads or sales out. The other part of that is very much about awareness. It’s more difficult to attribute success to it effectively, but we do know it works. Obviously. We know it works as marketers. We know it works because we’ve done it over a period of years, but it’s not quite as quick to show success. And that’s quite difficult, I think, to convince different stakeholders. What are your thoughts on that? Is there a way to attribute success to those longer term channels

0:08:13 –  Kat Sale

With clients, what we’ll often do is we’ll talk about each campaign as where it is in the funnel. This is not new to anyone, I guess, but if something’s completely upper funnel, we might talk about it as stage one. And the KPI of stage one is not going to be a sale or a lead. Stage one might be the goal is to get a user to stage two. So say you’re doing some prospecting on Facebook to cold audiences. The goal of that campaign might simply be to get people to follow the page or to go to the website, because then you can remarket to them, which is really cheap. So just trying to get thinking about it in that way, but then also trying to get the senior stakeholders who might have influence on the budget, get them to think about it that way and understand that. No, it makes sense.

0:09:06 – Rob Twells

I quite like that, actually, in terms of the KPI being simply just moving one step closer to the end of the funnel. Has that worked well for you when talking with different stakeholders?

0:09:10 –  Kat Sale

Definitely. We had a client, they do like a financial trading business and we were running lots of activity, upper and lower funnel. Every week we’d get questions, why are you spending all this stuff on upper funnel? What’s it doing? As soon as we moved to stage one, two, three, basically as a way of categorizing campaigns and we were militant with it, like to the point where we’d physically rename the campaign what stage it is in, because then it’s like in people’s faces. You can then have reports by stages. As soon as we moved to that and started talking about that in line with the KPOs for each, it made such a difference. Made it much easier.

09:59 – Rob Twells

I think a lot of convincing stakeholders to do different things. Budgets is about making it as easy to understand as possible, making it as black and white as possible. And brand awareness. Early stages in the funnel, it’s never black and white, but clearly you’ve managed to make it black and white, which I think is great. And I might be stealing that one.

0:10:11 –  Kat Sale

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean we never drop the budget on stage when it’s tight, but it just means that we can have a clearer conversation about it, which makes it easier.

0:10:24 – Rob Twells

Absolutely. There are times where generating the extra leads or the extra sales is arguably more valuable than a little bit more brand awareness. I wouldn’t ever say that to a brand designer or somebody who’s obviously, as a performance marketer yourself, Kat, you’ll know that it’s super important to put figures on the board in terms of revenue and sales. Sometimes you have to prioritize that. In your experience working in your career, is there any sort of channels or platforms that lend itself to smaller budgets or even offer a bit more flexibility in sort of tough times?

0:10:59 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, so we really mainly work with Google, Meta Ads, TikTok, LinkedIn, all of which are very flexible in the way budgets can be set daily and can change, and there’s not too strict a minimum, although we’ll talk about that in a minute. They all have their place for different businesses. I would say 80% of businesses are going to get a higher ROI on Google search generally, because obviously, if a user is showing intent for something, if you can just give it to them, why wouldn’t you get that sale or the lead? Whatever. But I have definitely seen more and more businesses where, actually they get a higher ROI on paid social than Google, which I think is really interesting. And I think there’s definitely something about if what you’re selling isn’t necessarily price competitive, and you need a platform that you can showcase what it is actually, paid social is a better way to go than Google.

0:11:58 – Rob Twells

It’s a lot more visual, isn’t it?

0:11:59 –  Kat Sale

It’s a lot more visual. You can do videos, you can explain it. Whereas on Google, price is so important.

0:12:07 – Rob Twells

Do you think that has a budget impact in terms of needing the assets, needing the media, needing that video?

0:12:13 –  Kat Sale

I mean, yeah, that is a thing, but then I would say it’s getting much more easy to make your own creative, almost. We’ve worked with clients that literally just use their own iPhone to make their own TikToks, and they’re really good.

0:12:25 – Rob Twells

Yeah, makes sense. Totally. And how are you sort of showing ROI to your customers in terms of using that to entice them to potentially increase their budget. Are you showing low level figures, or are you really going into the weeds of how the campaigns are performing and what stages are at?

0:12:46 –  Kat Sale

So we generally, when we report, we start at top level how things are doing, but then the report will contain deeper stuff further down, and people can read that if they want.

0:12:56 – Rob Twells

Does that have justifications for increasing the budget?

0:12:58 –  Kat Sale

Decisions? Yeah, exactly. So it might be okay or this platform or this campaign has driven a lot more. So we recommend increasing here. If your total budget can’t go up, we could move from here,

0:13:12 – Rob Twells

Distribute the budget between different channels and different platforms.

0:13:15 –  Kat Sale

Yeah. And then if it gets to a point, say, a client’s budget has really been squeezed, if it gets to a point where one channel is really outperforming, it might be that we say, actually, you don’t have the budget to run on two or three platforms. You’ve got to focus. The classic example I see is where a client, if their budget’s got to be cut, they just, like, halve all the budgets on all the campaigns evenly and then they’re spread so thin they can’t really do anything. And that’s just basically pointless, in my opinion.

0:13:52 – Rob Twells

Your approach is to take a step back, reevaluate. And if it has been halved, doesn’t mean you should halve it globally.

0:13:59 –  Kat Sale

Not flat. No.

0:14:00 – Rob Twells

It means, actually, you should probably, if you’re managing five channels, maybe focus on two out of the five, whatever it might be

0:14:05 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, exactly. And even if you say you’ve only got one, say you’re only running on Google, it might be that there’s campaigns within that that you just don’t or can’t afford at the moment, or don’t need. Or you could maybe like I mean, this is what I love about performance marketing. You can cut a campaign down to really focus if you need to. So, like, I don’t know, say you’re running in the whole of the UK and your budget gets halved. It could be that instead of cutting scope, it could be that you just reduce the locations you’re advertising in so you can still be aggressive where you want to be, but not everywhere.

0:14:43 – Rob Twells

Pick your battles, so to speak. Yeah, makes sense. Just going back to the channel discussion we’re having previous to that. What’s your thoughts on Bing?

0:14:54 –  Kat Sale

I think Bing’s really useful.

0:14:57 – Rob Twells

I my experience, It’s a lot cheaper there’s often. Well, I’m not sure if this is fact or not, but I’ve definitely read it somewhere and it’s definitely come true for a lot of the things I’ve worked on in the past. There’s a certain type of demographic that uses Bing and it’s typically business people, maybe. High net worth.

0:15:18 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, and it’s less competitive, a lot less competitive. I think it’s grown quite a bit since they launched ChatGPT so I think it’s a really good place to look. It’s really easy to use now because you can literally import from Google and you can have a daily import that just updates with your changes from Google. All obviously there’s some differences like there’s no performance max and stuff, but I think, yeah, it should definitely be considered in the mix. High intent. I probably wouldn’t advertise just on there with a client unless their budgets were really constrained because it is small. But it’s definitely worth thinking about. Yeah.

0:15:58 – Rob Twells

And you mentioned there about one of the things you see quite commonly is when someone half their budgets or cut their budget, they just keep everything the same, but they just scale it. Yeah.

0:16:06 –  Kat Sale

Just lazy.

0:16:08 – Rob Twells

A massive pitfall. Are there anything else you see in terms of common mistakes when people are looking at lowering their budgets, in your experience?

0:16:15 –  Kat Sale

I think just, like, assuming that everything needs to be everything that was live needs to still be live. So, like, some people really feel that they need to be live on display as a campaign type, even if they can only give it like, 50 quid a day budget. And you sort of think, well, do you need to be live on it? Just really try and ask yourself the question, what do I actually need to do? Similarly with brand, like, in Search, we see a lot of advertisers spending quite a lot of money on their own brand name. Really question that. Because if it’s not that competitive with other people bidding on your brand, why are you paying for it? You don’t have to. You could pick up those sales organically, probably. We did quite an interesting test with a client when their budget got pulled back, where their brand name was highly competitive, like loads of people bidding on it all the time. So we always had an ad there, obviously, to protect it, but then because the budget was constrained and the goal of the business is new customer acquisition, so not really a brand at all, because it’s just bringing back people that probably already know you and would come back. So we did some analysis and actually pulled back the spend on desktop, not on mobile, because on mobile, when you do a search, there’s only room for like one and a half ad above the fold. So if your competitors there, you’re probably going to miss out because the user might not see you. Whereas on desktop there’s loads of space, they’ll probably see your ad organically. And pulling back that way meant that they didn’t have compromise being on brand as much, but they saved quite a lot of the budget, which we can then put elsewhere.

0:17:53 – Rob Twells

Yeah, that’s interesting. And how much were they putting into their brand? Like in terms of percentage split?

0:17:59 –  Kat Sale

Well, they’re spending thousands on it a month. I reckon it’s probably like 30%. It’s a name that’s got the thing they’re I can’t say it, but it’s a name that’s got the thing they’re selling in it. So it’s really easy for other people to bid on it by mistake. I don’t think there’s lots of people biding on it on purpose, if that makes sense. I mean, some of them definitely are, but it’s really frustrating to spend money me on that, because you’re not even acquiring new customers, you’re just protecting current ones.

0:18:29 – Rob Twells

No, 100%. No, I get it. I’m going to ask you something now that I think no, I don’t think you’ll struggle with it, but I think it might be difficult for you to appear unbiased on this, because that’s somebody who’s obviously very keen on PPC. When a marketing leader has a budget at their disposal, they are looking at all the channels. So they’ve got x amount of rear for SEO, x amount of PPC, bit for social media, a bit for maybe some print or events, whatever it might be. What’s your sales pitch for keeping PPC? Because I’ve heard so many times it’s such an easy thing to drop PPC is because it literally turned the spend off with a click of a button, whereas there’s not many channels where you can do that. And it does leave businesses like us exposed a little bit in time. What’s your sales pitch for keeping PPC? Switched on, I suppose is a question.

0:19:25 –  Kat Sale

Ah, I’d have to look at what that business is getting from it. How would how else would they get that? Yeah, because they can’t appear. They’re not going to be at the top organically for everything. I doubt nobody is. So if there’s some really key terms that they just wouldn’t appear on that are driving sales, why would you miss out on those? But I’m not against people saying they need to pull back budget on PPC. Definitely. Because you can so easily pull different levers to make the spend more efficient. So I actually quite like it when clients say, I want to spend a bit less, realistically, because it’s a challenge that can be met because there’s so many levers to pull. Does that make sense?

0:20:19 – Rob Twells

Makes sense. There’s this for you to prove that it actually can work, rather than the outset saying, no, just cutting that, and it’s all too easy to do that. As I say, the barrier for them cutting the budget is so low. Whereas something like I don’t know, I can’t think of an example off top of my head, but sometimes there’s contracts in place, sometimes there’s this, sometimes there’s that. But literally you can save that money.

0:20:38 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, it’s a bit like if you’ve got TV booked or something, obviously you can’t just cancel it necessarily last minute. And I would also challenge them to look at what they’re achieving in SEO. And are there ways that SEO and PPC could work together to spend a bit less on PPC? So, for example, if there’s like ten terms that they appear really highly on for SEO for organically, maybe you don’t need to be there in PPC for those. And you can cut the budget, but not completely remove it because you could use it to be there for the terms that you can’t appear for organically.

0:21:13 – Rob Twells

No, it makes sense. My experience certainly is the SEO and PPC work best together, or certainly work really well together. You can dominate in both paid and organically, then you’re in a really strong position. Yeah, other than the ones I mean, you shared quite a few things today, but other than what you’ve already mentioned, are there any sort of out the box approaches that you’ve got that spring to mind that can help marketing leaders, or bag holders, as I call them, to stretch their budgets and achieve some results that they want?

0:21:48 –  Kat Sale

So two things really. Let’s talk about Meta first. So I think that an area that is totally overlooked on Meta is lookalike audiences? So if you can leverage your own customer data, get it in the system, then you can make a lookalike audience of literally people that have the same browsing habits as your customers. It’s really cheap to do. Like it works free to set that up, but then obviously it’s quite cost effective because it’s kind of your audience built out. Clients do not use that enough. So I think that’s a really it’s actually quite a simple strategy that every business should do that.

0:22:32 – Rob Twells

How accurate is that in terms of what Facebook comes up with or Meta?

0:22:40 – Kat Sale

Well, we can’t tell how accurate is as in they don’t tell us who’s in the audience, but the proof’s in the performance it performs almost always nearly as well as remarketing, which I just think is incredible because they are new customers, because they don’t know. So I, in that case, trust in the black box, which I never like, five years ago, I never would have said that. Never ever would have said that..

0:23:05 – Rob Twells

That’s interesting Yeah. Any other sort of out of the box strategies?

0:23:08 –  Kat Sale

Well, the other one, which, again, is a bit black boxy, is Performance Max on Google, which people love to hate. And I have gone through phases of hating it, but in the last six months, I think the combination of advertisers learning how to actually use it properly, and Google’s actually released a lot more features to it, actually, performance on it for clients is phenomenal now. And we’re using it not just for shopping clients, for ecommerce. We’re using it for all sorts like we’ve seen in lead gen. It works really well, which I never would have expected.

0:23:45 – Rob Twells

Makes sense.

0:23:47 –  Kat Sale

Again, having a bit of trust in the black box solution. You put your constraints around it, make sure you’re controlling roughly what it’s doing, but then just letting it go, giving it a boundary target, CPA or ROAS, and let it go.

0:24:01 – Rob Twells

No, we’ve certainly yeah, it’s been a bit love hate with us, to be fair, in terms of performance. But certainly growing to become more of a fan of it nowadays.

0:24:11 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, I think they’re really improving it and I think it’s good. What I would say is don’t test it with just like a small 30 quid a day budget because you just can’t get anywhere. I know you can technically put a very low budget in, but there’s no point for a bit of money after really test it.

0:24:28 – Rob Twells

And what’s your thoughts on in terms of things to either stretch budgets or even stretch resource? Because time is money. At the end of the day, it’s a bit of a swear word. What’s your thoughts on AI and how that’s impact? Has that impacted you at all? Have you sort of come head to head with AI at all?

0:24:51 –  Kat Sale

I don’t like to think of it as head to head. I like to think of it as an extra person that can help me. So we have started using it to kind of come up with keyword ideas. Write ad copy, not write it, come up with ad copy ideas and then we take it. I think it’s great for that. I think it saves time, but I don’t think it saves as much time yet as everyone thinks it does, if that makes sense, because you still got to go through it and make sure it’s okay. Some of the some stuff it comes out with is just crap.

0:25:21 – Rob Twells

I think it certainly can save time, the way it’s going. I can see use cases that I can see in the future that we’re not quite ready for yet. But definitely I can see it being very useful at a time where we are, like source, maybe lacking a bit of time. I want to get something done quicker than maybe would. There’s an urgency around it. A campaign date, deadline, whatever it might be. Yeah, I don’t think we’re quite there yet. Keyword idea? Ad copy ideas. Potentially. Scripts for media. Potentially. Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I think if you ask the client, they’d probably think, well, they’re just using AI, and it’s not like that at all.

0:26:02 –  Kat Sale

No, even. I mean, really, Performance Max is an AI driven campaign type, but we still use human intervention to manage it and optimize it. And if you don’t? Well, we had a client recently where quite a big change happened on their site that affected the conversion rates and we didn’t update the targets on the campaign to reflect that. AI couldn’t work it out. The performance tanked and then it pulled us out of the auction, so we stopped spending. It was only when we did our job, basically. And we’re like, no, we need to update this and it started working again. So you can’t just leave these things and set them up. You have to work with it

0:26:45 – Rob Twells

No, I agree. Totally agree. I think AI certainly now it’s going to need that human intervention, but there’s small efficiencies to be made definitely. And talking of the wider marketing, not just focusing on Paid today, clearly, but it’s worked a lot for other areas of marketing. We’re a bit more holistic in terms of looking at social and SEO and all that kind of stuff. There’s things I wouldn’t recommend it for. Like, I’d never recommend taking it from a copywriting point of view and just lump being on our website. Definitely not. But again, structures, content structures, blog structures, all that kind of stuff can work really well. Yeah, I’m excited to see what comes from AI, if truth be told. Are you are you sort of giving your customers or even yourself advice on longer term strategies? You mentioned it earlier in terms of we’re in the summer now, so the news is a little bit quiet on the cost of living, but I can see clearly the way you’re thinking is actually as soon as October hits, we’re going to start hearing it again. So are you starting to lay the groundwork for that now?

0:27:49 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, depending on the business and what they do right. And what they sell. Always trying to think ideally six to twelve months ahead. Right, okay. Which everybody struggles with sometimes. So just really bringing it back to that when you’re having strategy sessions, I’d say, obviously it depends what the business does and sells, but every business has peaks and troughs. Right. It’s a bit like we were halfway through the year last week, weren’t we? I can’t remember the date. 21st. Well, that means we’re halfway to Christmas. How many businesses does that affect, really?

0:28:25 – Rob Twells

It’s funny you say that, I had a little bit of jip on this internally. But our next webinar is all about preparing for Christmas. It’s all about preparing for Black Friday. And I truly believe that now is the time to be doing that.

0:28:37 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, Black Friday is a funny one, isn’t it? We had a situation with a client last year when they felt they needed to be in for it and enter the auctions and really compete on both Google and Meta, like, just be everywhere for Black Friday. But it’s so saturated that they lost so much money. So now their strategy is we don’t do Black Friday, And actually, because they’re not spending all that extra money, their profits higher in that time.

0:29:06 – Rob Twells

Yeah, it’s interesting. Got a handful of clients that Black Friday is a really big deal for them and it’s all hands on debt, but. I love doing the comparison at the end of it. How was 2023 compared to 2021, so on and so forth. So it has a big impact. And actually, the sooner you plan my experience, the better you do. So no, it’s interesting to know that. So you typically plan six months in advance. Am I right in saying that?

0:29:34 –  Kat Sale

Well, we try to with clients, bring them in, having conversations around that, definitely. And just like thinking about even budgets in particular. Let’s say a client sells, I don’t know, watches and jewellery.  It’s probably not peak time right now for that. It’s a good time, but it’s not when you should be spending the majority of your budget. So that is something that you would think about for Christmas because it’s gifting related. Do you know what I mean? Everyone knows your budget obviously shouldn’t be flat, but I do think if you’re thinking about having to deal with constrained budgets, still planning for when is it going to be most important to have a bigger budget?

0:30:18 – Rob Twells

Absolutely. And that’s obviously dealing with seasonality, so on and so forth. Very different for each business. How do you then deal with unexpected changes to that plan then? So if a business is facing a tough time and what we said we were going to spend is just not feasible anymore, how do you approach that sort of situation?

0:31:00 –  Kat Sale

Yeah, so we normally will just have a conversation about what the impact of whatever is suggested would be. And then we talk about cutting it as a test. So we had a situation with a client in April, it was April where they’d spent too much in Q1 on a variety of things, not just our activity and as a business they needed to really pull back. So we said, okay, let’s test in May four weeks of heavily reduced activity and see the impact of it. And very quickly about two weeks I think it was, the CFO turned around and said we’ve got to put it back up really because we’re not getting the leads in… But I think it was a really important test because it proved to everyone the benefit of what we were doing. It wasn’t just our activity actually, it was lots of marketing, they were doing all sorts of stuff, but obviously anything performance, marketing, it’s quite quick to see the results or lack of results if you pull it back. So seeing a change like that as a test rather than as this is how it’s going to be forever, I think is quite useful. And having that conversation about it being a test.

0:31:59 – Rob Twells

One of the big takeaways from this conversation is it’s very business dependent. One business is going to approach a constrained budget to another. One business is going to find tough economic times and opportunity, whereas another business is going to find it quite scary. They might panic, they might shrink their budget. And I think the parting message is you’ve got to understand your numbers. Your numbers, by that I mean what happens at the top of the funnel, what happens at the bottom of the funnel, what the one of those are historical numbers, what happens at certain times of the year, how that affects the business. The more as a marketing leader, you can understand that the better you can deal with unexpected situations around budgets and market missions and so on and so forth. So, yeah, I think that’s a good parting message. Have you got anything else you’d like to input, Kat, in terms of your experience with shrinking budgets and tough market conditions?

0:32:56 –  Kat Sale

I just think people need to try and remember not to panic and that things aren’t permanent. So if someone says, right, your budget is now going to be cut by 50%, don’t see that as a forever problem, and don’t do a knee jerk reaction, really. Just try and think about what’s the best approach for now. Yeah, panic is just the worst thing you can do because you make bad choices.

0:33:30 – Rob Twells

It’s easy to panic if you’re a marketing director. You’re a marketing manager, you’ve got stakeholders to please, you’ve got KPI targets on your head. So I’ve got sympathy for those positions, especially in conditions like now, when their expectations of their role has probably not changed, but their budget’s probably gotten smaller, even more difficult. So I think communication around how things are working, that importance of the data becomes even more important, and communicating that stakeholders in the right way. And you’ve dropped some really good tips on that today in terms of different stages of the funnel and whatnot. I think that’ll be really useful. So, look, I really appreciate your time and we’ll see you all again soon.

0:34:13 –  Kat Sale

Definitely! Loved it.

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Rob Twells

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Rob is the Founder of an award winning digital agency (since forming a digital agency group The Digital Maze with Boom Online) specialising in SEO, PPC, CRO, digital strategy and web design. With over 10+ years in the marketing space, Rob has been involved with hundreds of marketing projects and campaigns with some of the best known brands.

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