What to do When Marketing Budgets Take a Dive Worldwide

Has your marketing budget taken a dive — like the latest report from the June 2012 Global Marketing Index Shows?

“June’s score is the lowest since January, and is the second consecutive month with a decline, following 7 consecutive months of improvement.”

What to do when your budget gets blown out of the water

I’ve never-ever worked in an environment where the CEO came to me and said “I’m increasing your budget by 20%!”  Is that just me?  I don’t think so.  I’ve had companies allocate a budget for a new product, service or project – but after that, all I ever remember is a constant dicing and slicing 5-10% at a time.  In other words – I feel like Doing More With Less is a perpetual state of mind.

This is where your market research tools and skills can help you get the most out of your ever decreasing budget and ever-increasing expectations.

  1. Focus on the context.  The biggest mistake or oversight marketing and product managers can make is focusing on the content, rather than the context of the research.   My personal observation is that many executives disregard market research because they feel that no great innovation happened because 60% of the population said they needed a new product.  The research that is most valuable is the kind of contextual research that you can get through crowdsourcing or by using text analysis tools to analyze chatter on social media.
  2. Run short surveys on mobile devices.  QuestionPro has some outstanding mobile tools that allow you to get into contextual conversations with your respondents.  You’d be surprised how much your response rate will go up when you cut your survey down to about 1 minute.  You can ask more questions — just over a longer period of time.  Use QuestionPro’s SurveyPocket app to engage with your customers and your audience in a conversation.
  3. Use crowdsourcing to reduce focus groups.  Focus groups are extremely powerful. They are also expensive and are often the first market research item to get sliced when budgets have to get smaller.  Don’t sweat it.  You can replace your focus group with a crowdsourcing tool like IdeaScale to engage in meaningful conversations with your audience.  Creating a community is free.  You’ll get your own private URL that you can email to your list.  One way to increase engagement is to schedule a live event on IdeaScale. Everyone can log in during a specific period of time and you can reward the people who have the most interaction with gift cards and other rewards.
  4. Drive people to an online survey.  Speed is critical.  After you’ve collected your information from the IdeaScale community, create a quick online survey in QuestionPro and send them the link.  In fact – create several surveys and get people talking.
  5. Use the data to create more conversation.  The Delphi method is a research process where you take what someone says and then use that information in another question.  For example — “75% of small business CEOs said they expect to increase sales this year — do you feel this is true for you? — Why or why not?”

So am I the only one that’s had to deal with nose-diving budgets?  Leave a comment with how you dealt with a cut budget.  What strategies have you used to get more with less.  Even better – share your QuestionPro story on how QuestionPro helps you achieve more for less.


Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers and the President of Third Force, a strategic marketing firm. She's the marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a frequent contributor to AMEX Open Forum.

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