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As we stride purposely into 2012, marketing budgets secured or still under negotiation, one thing is a certainty. 2012 is going to be a challenging year. ‘Ha’ you cry….and 2011 wasn’t?! True – but if the various worldwide financial predictions are true, (and if the French President Nicholas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, our very own David Cameron etc could look any more miserable as New Year speeches are delivered) belt tightening is due to get tighter. But the customers are out there. They may be in existing accounts, they may be new, but they are out there.

You may already have been through the mill as you wrestled your 2012 marketing budget to the ground, emerging triumphant, if a little lighter in pocket from a series of bruising approval cycles. Or, you may still be embroiled in negotiations, you’re hand in glove with your sales director, and backing it up with a marketing plan which takes no prisoners, pared down to the bone and to which you see no extra wiggle room at all. And they are still asking for reductions!

I was often asked in 2011 for strategies as to how to extend existing marketing budgets, and indeed there are many ways you can box clever, and find extra monies or just different strategies to create further lead generating opportunities for your sales team/s, both internal and external, and fill up that pipeline with good quality leads. Here are just a few ideas:

  • If a programme has proved  to be a phenomenal success in one sector then why not look to deploy it in another? Just tweak the value proposition (please do not batter your customers with technical product detail – your message will be lost, your hard earned £s wasted) or look to joint sell with a partner who is already strong in this new sector and knows it well – create a new powerful joint solution and reinvent your product/s.
  • And while we’re on it, take a long hard look at your channels to market. Segment them and have clear value propositions for each channel; your own sales force, your distributors, resellers, strategic alliance partners, manufacturers…..are they as well armed as your own sales teams? What’s in it for them and how are you communicating with them all to make sure your own value prop’ is clearly appreciated? Work out who has the strongest additional value to
    offer along with your product/s and create a joint solution.  It’s just like creating a product
    roadmap. The same processes apply – you just have extra products/services in addition to your own. The trick is to establish a compelling value proposition that really resonates with the prospect.
  • Extend out the elements of  your current marketing programme; try new mediums from your marketing mix  (but with the same messages); social media, direct mail, a highly targeted
    ambassador programme, an event with a partner in a new sector you’ve never  tried before. Don’t stick to the same old ways of addressing your existing customers….circle the wagons in that target account…get viral!
  • If you are not getting to  the key decision makers in your targeted accounts, sit back, do some
    short, sharp research, work closely with your sales team and understand  every nuance of the successful sale; what need promoted that customer to buy, is there a pattern in a particular sector – a common problem that your product or a joint solution (with a partner) may fix? Create a sales win grid and chart every sale and don’t forget the lost sales – just as important, if fact even more so. Get your sales team, round the table (put a beer or soft drink in their hand) and ask them what problems their customers are experiencing? Go out with them on sales calls. Galvanise your sales teams into joint sales reviews with your partners’ sales teams where appropriate. Help them work out the sales account mapping – it will give you insight into your value props’.
  • Get to know the customer and how your company can be a trusted adviser. This will allow you to sell further up the food chain. You will often find that one successful sale into one part of an organisation can readily be repeated elsewhere in that organisation, and the decision maker will be more than happy to assist you, work with you. You may find that a partner has been successful in a part of a targeted customer account you’ve never been able to get to. Another
    door opens…

The golden rule in all this?  Never give up and accept the ‘current climate’… things might be challenging but with enough imagination, flexibility and determination you can make that marketing budget stretch that little bit further.

This post was written by Elephant Creative Associate, Ellie Pendreich and you can read more about her on our Team Page