What is the real impact of reduced marketing spending? Many suggest it is a false economy but the truth is it can often have a negligible short term impact on sales. The marketing process can continue to have an impact several months after marketing personnel have left.

The impact of removing a marketing team very much depends on:

  • The specific business.
  • The market.
  • The makeup of the marketing team before the change.

With a marketing team dispensed with many of the day to day marketing functions can continue. General administration staff could allocate some of their time to functional marketing tasks. How long a business can continue without professional marketing is the issue.

If it is necessary to reduce marketing spend and headcount then it is likely something has changed. Perhaps business profitability is in decline? But that points to either a change within the business or in the external environment.

There is always the chance of a ‘black swan’ (or even a grey one) crippling a business. Poor operational management can have a damaging impact over time. In principle neither is the fault of the marketing department.

However, there is an argument a professional marketing department should have spotted and dealt with organisational or market issues before they became critical. Always assuming, of course, senior management acted on those warnings.

Functional vs Professional Marketing

There are two types of marketers functional and professional. A functional marketer simply delivers a process. They have a task and like a machine, they follow through on that task. They rarely stop to think if there is a problem with the process.

Functional marketers deliver customer communications and newsletters. They make the specified number of social media posts each day. They run the marketing automation systems. They are the delivery machine focused only on numbers.

A professional marketing department’s prime role is to stay in touch with the market. From the market flows insight and from that flows strategy and process. They adapt to change and fight the corner of the customer within the business.

Depending on the market cutting the functional marketing department may not have an immediate impact. The problem is although functional marketers are relatively easy to employ. The same is not true for professional marketers. it can be difficult to recover from reducing spending on professional marketing

To re-launch a business requires professional marketing skills particularly those relating to strategy, products and markets.
The chances of medium to long term recovery are compromised if no professional marketing is in place.

If the problem causing a business decline was operational cuts to marketing spend are unlikely to cure the problem. The problem must be dealt with at source. Provided, of course, the business reputation and client base are not damaged beyond repair.

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