Uncategorised | 4 min. read

Lower Marketing Budget Than Last Year? Here’s What You Need to Do

Written by Nik Stapleton, 07.06.2021

Subscribe to our B2B marketing insights

Man Cutting Budget

Through the Annual CMO Spend Survey, Gartner revealed that the majority of c-suite members expect the negative economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to be long-lived. So, it’s no surprise just under half of businesses report a decrease in available funds for marketing.

Most marketers have had 12 months of working with shallow pockets after sudden reductions in 2020. While many hoped that 2021 would mark the return to normal budgets, it appears that another year of penny stretching is on the cards.

During a recent B2B Marketing Clinic we were hit with this question:

“Our marketing budget is significantly lower than it was last year. Our directors won’t want to hear that performance is going to suffer as a result, but I’m not sure how my team and I can be expected to pull off what we usually would with less to spend. Have you any suggestions on what I should do?”


What did we Prescribe?

The advice we shared during the Clinic will help any marketer approach budget constraints in the right way.

If you’ve found yourself with less to spend this year, here’s what you need to do:

Manage Expectations

Regardless of how good you and your team are, you won’t be able to maintain the same levels of brand awareness, SEO gains or lead generation with smaller coffers. And you need to be clear about that. The first thing you should be doing is replanning and setting new objectives.

Altering expectations isn’t the same as setting them to zero. More than ever, your marketing must be aligned to your business’s strategic priorities. It’s not time for wishy-washy goal setting and slack measurement and control. You need to be 100% focused on advancing your commercial objectives – even if you can’t afford to meet all of them. Making the right progress will surely placate your board.

You need to prioritise – box clever. And keep your tactical mix lean.

Which leads me on to the second thing you need to do…

Know Exactly What You Need to Keep and What You Can Afford to Cut

Wasteful activities are your enemy. To make a smaller budget work, you need to understand how to get the most out of it.

While you’ll undoubtably need to switch off some of your usual activities you can’t afford to kill the ones are your most effective at driving sales. Look back at your data. Be thorough.

Channel-level attribution should be your starting point. From there, dive deeper. Before you pull the plug on any activity, interrogate your performance, and assess whether there’s room for improvement.

It’s also vital that you understand how each strand of your activity contributes to the overall commercial value you create. And this means you need to make sure you’re using the right attribution model. It might be the de-facto model, but you should avoid Last-Click.


It can be incredibly misleading. Most B2B customers go through complex and lengthy purchasing journeys. Last-Click models will only show you which activities are working well at the very end of that journey. Using this information to optimise your mix could see you turn off something that’s crucial for generating initial awareness, or completely undervalue the importance of retargeting. You could end up destroying your funnel without realising it.

You need to use a model that will give you a holistic view on what’s working. If you’ve not already got one in place, setting up a Custom or Algorithmic attribution model probably wouldn’t be the best use of available budget. Using a Positional model will give you the information you need. It will give credit to all touchpoints but apportion more weight to the first and last interactions; showing you what drives initial interest and helps seal the deal. By identifying and preserving these activities you’ll be able to make changes without disrupting sales – something I’m sure your directors wouldn’t thank you for.

Until you’ve scrutinised which activities are integral to your sales funnel, don’t make any decisions about which you’ll keep and which you’ll swap for more cost-effective alternatives.


Suffering from a B2B Marketing Headache?

If strategic planning is making you feel sick to the stomach, or a particular tactic is causing you grief, grab some time with one of our CIM qualified marketers at the B2B Marketing Clinic. We’ll prescribe a remedy that’ll take the pain away. Talk to Intermedia.

Originally published June 7, 2021

Don't forget to share this post

Don't miss a trick

Subscribe to get our latest B2B marketing insights sent straight to your inbox.

Digital World Centre, 1 Lowry Plaza,
The Quays, MediaCityUK,
Manchester, M50 3UB

B2B marketing company on Linkedin