Marketing has always been under budget pressure. Whenever the bottom line slumps, the marketing budget is one of the first to be scrutinized under the microscope. Activities that have been painstakingly developed and aligned with stakeholders find themselves put on the shelf from one day to the next, teams are forced to re-focus and managers challenged to motivate their troops. Not a piece of cake!
Cost pressure is becoming ever-present, driven by digital marketing methodologies that offer performance transparency and with it, cost efficiency. In mature industries, the notion of right-sizing the plan, budget and team is an ongoing exercise with cost optimization and the search for efficiency being a constant goal. This is all good as long as expectations amongst key stakeholders are in balance with the pressure to manage costs. Too often, we see teams that are struggling under the competing demands of heightened expectations on both sides of the equation!
From experience, we have found that the best way to manage this is to be proactive. After all, as a CMO, it is surely better to decide how you want to adjust your plans rather than having this dictated to you by someone else who cares only for the end number. And the best way to do this is to begin adjusting your cost base before you are asked to and to actively promote this cost consciousness loud and clear to all your key stakeholders. By doing this you construct an effective argument in protection of your highly efficient operation.
One strategy that you can turn to is near-sourcing: Out-sourcing tasks to a managed service provider situated in a near-shore location. This is not new, it is heavily used across many business functions including IT, HR and finance to name but a few. In marketing however, it is not so widespread, and the barriers to implementation are less and less relevant or even defendable.
Below are a few examples of how CMOs can exploit near-sourcing:
By examining the opportunities of near-sourcing, and implementing the best fit solutions, you are in control of the shape of your marketing operations. Also, by proactively showing that you are conscious and taking deliberate steps to address the cost side of your activity, you build a strong argument against internal cost hawks. You take control of the discussion about the future shape and setup of your team and its operations.