Can You Afford a Marketing Budget Cut?


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Your marketing budget has been cut or you’re preparing for the annual budgeting process. You can’t work on everything. How do you determine where to allocate the scarce resources of your marketing team? This post is Part 3 of a 3-part series. The focus is on dealing with a marketing restructuring impacted by budget cuts. In part 1, we dealt with your marketing team’s work capacity. Part 2 focused on marketing project prioritization. The final part of the series focuses on the optimization of the marketing organization.

Budget cuts or justifying the existing marketing budget are common occurrences. You need a structured resource allocation approach. The 3-phase approach below provides the detail you need.

  1. Phase 1: Marketing work capacity assessment
  2. Phase 2: Project prioritization
  3. Phase 3: Marketing team optimization

Download the Marketing Optimization Tool here. The tool aligns the output of Phases 1 & 2 with your overall marketing budget.


When building out the marketing optimization tool, two areas of conflict typically become evident:

  1. Estimated project man hours are exaggerated. In an earlier phase, you have already calculated the team’s man-hour capacity. The biggest item is the project man-hour estimate. We recommend leveraging a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) support the estimated hours.
  2. Everyone wants to re-prioritize the projects. This is why sequencing is so important. Each phase must be done in the correct order to avoid the manipulation of the results. You will you find that performing the phases as isolated projects yields the most accurate results.

What’s Really Important to Marketing and Meeting Your Objectives?

The work capacity, project prioritization is a constant struggle. It’s a constant shuffle to see which projects fall below the line or above. Make sure you have answered these critical questions:

  • Can you still execute the marketing strategy?
  • Based on what you’re cutting, how does it impact the revenue goals?
  • How have the priority adjustments impacted roles & responsibilities?
  • How can you get the team behind the necessary project and work load changes?

The final Phase involves aligning resource/work capacity with project/program prioritization. The phased approach ends with the “Marketing Optimization Tool.”. This tool combines the output of the:

  • Marketing Capacity Assessment Tool in Phase 1 or the total marketing work force capacity
  • Marketing Project Prioritization Tool in Phase 2 or a ranking of the highest impact programs
  • Marketing Optimization Tool in Phase 3 or the alignment of available resources to the programs that made the cut

How to Draw the Affordability Line

I’ve combined all 3 tools in the associated download. The marketing optimization tool auto-populates the project stack rankings and associated Total Project Value (TPV). The total man-hours by program/resource will be input from the capacity assessment output.

The tool output allows you to draw the affordability line. It clearly aligns work capacity and program priority. This bottoms-up approach defines those marketing programs you can no longer afford under the new budget constraints.

This quantitative approach will allow you to get the most from limited resources. The success or failure of your marketing program hinges on a structured approach.

Marketing Optimization Tool

How This Tool Helps

The tool provides a wide range of benefits. Here are some top reasons to take advantage of this tool:

  • Allows you to stack rank project priorities against available man-hours
  • Provides executive insight into what programs will be cut
  • Allows you to quantify the impact of those projects below the line
  • Provides the ability to clearly draw the affordability line
  • Incorporates a bottoms up view of work force capacity and program priority
  • It captures the Total Project Value and allows you to track the expected return from each program

Getting Started

Download the Marketing Optimization Tool here. Schedule a meeting with your team to complete the resource to project alignment. Make sure your team is prepared to review your original program man-hour estimates. Complete the optimization tool for each project and confirm the final affordability line. Review the final resource assignments. Start preparing the team for the associated resource assignments. Prepare the communication plans and change management plans associated with the resource adjustments. Launch the adjusted marketing structure changes.

If you have any questions on any of the project phases, connect with me via a LinkedIn Inmail at: We’ll spend 30 minutes to get your team and projects moving in the right direction.  

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Staples
John is an industry thought leader with more than 25 years of business experience, including B-to-B field sales, sales management, and sales operations. John has delivered results for companies such as: ConocoPhillips, Ryder, Tekelec, Telcordia Technologies, United Site Services, Sparta Systems and others.


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