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Your Marketing ADD Fix: That Smaller Budget

In my last entry (Bull’s Butt or Bull’s Eye), I discussed how not only focusing on the wrong activities, but also performing them in a redundant manner, was the best way to become redundant (and easily replaceable). When business is bustling and budgets grow, we typically experience “marketing attention deficit disorder” -- not having enough time to focus on all the activities we’re taking on. So, now is an opportune moment to make some fixes for the better. I got some good examples when I discussed the environment with another marketer dealing with similar challenges.

I pitched the ‘Bull’s Butt’ blog topic to Jeff Kristick, the head of marketing at Plateau, a leading provider of web-based (SaaS if your nasty) talent management solutions. The conversation was invigorating enough to drop into this article word-for-word (with his permission of course). It really shined a light on the opportunity side of these conditions. With tighter budgets and less staff, great marketers would be really focusing on getting the best results with fewer resources. It’s a candid peak into the thought process of a marketing leader dealing with challenging times and asking himself (and his people) the hard questions. It’s unrehearsed and unedited (OK, OK, I fixed some spelling mistakes).

IM conversation between Jeff Kristick (Plateau SVP/head of marketing) and Scott Fingerhut:
scott: What do you think of my pitch for the next blog article: Bull’s Butt or Bull’s Eye? Which side of the bull are you targeting?…. Money spent now should be targeted on getting the most leverage for your organization and winning business.…

Jeff: ok, but how do you contrast that investment argument with the fact that most marketing money spent in B2B won't yield revenue for 6-9 months

Jeff: marketing works on getting deals in the pipeline, and maybe helping move deals along, but moving them along is tough once they get past the early stages

scott: Ok. “Winning business” should be changed to "generating business opportunities" - it's what I'm going for, but asking how you are doing it differently in this environment?

Jeff: learning to do it with less money

Jeff: i am generating one half the inquiries and responses, but getting the same amount or more opportunities for the sales team

Jeff: with 30% of the budget that I had last year. So what was going on with the other 70% of the budget?

Jeff: was it a waste of money? I wish I could figure that out.

scott: well the main point is that you shouldn't look at your budget and say "10% of my budget will be spent on doing things differently or being aggressive." You now take less money and focus on being more effective. This is a fantastic example. I might use you in this one.

Jeff: feel free to use it

Jeff: i am still trying to figure out what is working and what is not working

Jeff: frankly, a fat budget makes you lazy. you just spend money
scott: For one thing, with more money, you spend less time focusing (you get lazy - exactly)

Jeff: a webex here, an event there - all for crap results

Jeff: i want to drive more revenue, but the reality is no one in marketing has more money now

scott: So with less money, you need to show what marketing can do even more.

scott: You look at each campaign more diligently. Now you run your budget, your budget doesn't run you.

scott: I mean, I’ve had bosses say "use your budget.... spend the money"

Jeff: it is like water - it rises to its own level

Jeff: give me more money and i will spend it, but i might not deliver more

scott: absolutely. What’s an example of something you are doing differently in tight times?

scott: uhh hello, you writing a book there? (response to “Jeff is typing” for an eternity).

Jeff: patience anyone? a recession is good for focus. For example, we did online events just to do them. I canceled most of them and told my people that I wanted us to do 1 effective event that would be interesting and attract attention. So, we are doing what we call “Talentpalooza” a hip way to play on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and draw a correlation to the magic that diverse talent created then and the magic talent can create in companies today. Check it out at:

scott: Wow, how’s that been going? And what else have you changed?

Jeff: We have over 2x more signups than we expected for it, so it’s great. It’s actually simple to attract attention by being different when the rest of the industry is a snore.

Jeff: And another change is i cut out paid search completely.. a lot of stuff does not deliver deals for me.
scott: are you focusing on organic

Jeff: yes

Jeff: organic search is much more effective. we just switched to a paid provider and we only pay them based on results
scott: and most importantly, what you are saying is just because it's being done by most people and it seems to be a best practice, does it make sense?

Jeff: correct

Jeff: common practice does not make it right. or effective

scott: in fact, common practices are the most assured way you will be lost in the noise of all the other people following common practices. Important for compliance issues, but not for marketing.

Jeff: yep, lazy marketing

scott: I might just cut and paste this IM conversation into the blog! You OK with that?

Jeff: sure, I can go on for hours