It seems to have become an automatic reaction for us marketing people to say don’t cut the Marketing budget in difficult times. To me this is rather naive. The vast majority of companies will cut their Marketing budgets whatever we say, particularly in difficult times.
If you are a CMO or Marketing Manager my suggestion is to be pro active as soon as you know that cuts are imminent. Tell your staff that YOU are going to cut the marketing by 50% and ask for their suggestions about how to get the best results with that much reduced budget. Set a meeting within a few days to brainstorm ideas and build some recommendations and justifications. Cuts of this scale will demand that people think differently because business as usual will not be an option.
At the end of the meeting you will have enough information to build a plan and justify actions. Write it within a few days keeping it short and customer orientated. Obviously it does not have to stick to exactly 50% but it does need to be a significant reduction. Then take it to the CEO or board for discussion. This will be your recommendation about how best to respond to the need for cuts. This is Marketing being proactive and ahead of the game while other functions haven’t even started to think about how to respond to cuts. You will stand far more chance of getting your revised budget and the actions that you wish to implement agreed than anyone else. You have done your planning and will have some logic to back up your plan. This will lead to you being able to focus Marketing on delivering while other functions get bogged down in on going ain’t it awful discussions.
The worst thing to do is to ignore financial conditions and try to do the same old marketing in the same old way. Highly frustrating and potentially a very career limiting option.