Much of the news and economic issues lately has had me taking a hard look at our marketing budget, performance and department as a whole. One of the interesting things about our marketing department is that we don't have a hard set budget, we drive towards a spend amount that is calculated as a certain percentage of our overall sales by website. Some people call this ERS or effective revenue share but what it means is that we keep our marketing spend appropriate to the amount of dollars we are selling. This can also mean that our budget fluctuates and is never really the same or static. This has seemed to work well for us thus far but not without its issues. With that in mind we have been doing a fair amount of year end reviews and planning for the future. I’ve put together my top five list of things which I think can help companies, especially those like ours, weather the storm.
Review the performance of all of your marketing channels for 2008 and for just the past three to four months. Are there channels not meeting your goals? Perhaps it’s time to either reevaluate the channel or give it the axe.
Review Performance Goals
Now is certainly a good time (if not yesterday) to review your performance goals to make sure they set up both the company and or department for success. If a company’s goal is profitability then its department’s goals need to be able to support that. This goes hand in hand with point one, review performance; if company goals don't trickle down then are they really being supported?
If you are doing the first two you might as well review how your reporting works. Make sure to include a review of what reports each person or department creates and what the top metrics are for determining success or failure. Even if it’s just a matter of streamlining the reporting process this can provide a lot of value to all in terms of visibility and expectations.
Work with your partners or vendors for mutually beneficial compromises. Many companies are having a hard time right now and it can be a good time to reevaluate partnerships, tools and vendors for those which may not be worth the money, especially right now. Sometimes it’s as simple as being honest with your expectations and honest about what’s happening in reality in terms of rates, contracts, sales, spend, etc.
Be Who You Are
Sometimes companies get caught up in who they want to be and end up setting themselves up for failure. Now is a good time to be realistic about who you and your company is and plan for the future. This can be a great rally point for an entire company, department, etc. It can also be a great point to figure out, define or redefine what your competitive edge is and what the priorities should be in a down economy.
Many of these items may seem like common sense, but until someone really steps back and does it they aren't being fully utilized. I recommend reviewing these periodically to make sure everything is still in line.