7 Tips for Stretching a Reduced Retail Marketing Budget in 2023
Nearly every business is dealing with budget cuts, and one of the first items on the chopping block is almost always marketing. It’s often seen as discretionary. Trying to convince the higher-ups of anything otherwise is usually an exercise in futility. The retail space is no different, leaving retail marketers with the unfortunate task of stretching every dollar to ensure each campaign goes off without a hitch.
But necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. That reduced budget could lead to the most innovative ways of generating sales. It’s all in how you look at the situation. Therefore, here are a few tactics that you can use to get those creative juices flowing (even with a limited budget):
1. Sharpen the axe.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Wise words attributed to Abraham Lincoln, and ones that might not seem relative to the situation at hand, but what he’s getting at is the need for preparation. A better understanding of the current landscape will be a necessity, so conduct research at the store level, study emerging trends, review past programs, etc. Really think about your approach and use what you’ve learned as a springboard for new ways to maximize marketing spend.
2. Prioritize spending.
Prioritizing marketing spend on only those areas that deliver the most impact is always a good rule of thumb, but even more so with a reduced budget. Not everything in the hopper needs to be activated, and just because an initiative isn’t broken doesn’t mean it should continue. This is a good time to look at which programs are making the most impact and double down.
3. Repurpose, reuse and recycle.
In marketing, companies have long used reprints of past materials for supplementary literature. The same could apply to retail. Rather than building a new display, get creative with what you have on hand by repurposing existing displays. Then, it’s just a matter of developing new messaging or fitting the structure with an audio-visual element to create the impact you’re looking for. You can even bring in a third party to offer ideas on how to refresh existing fixtures and displays.
4. Reimagine the prototyping process.
In display and retail marketing, there’s no shortage of prototypes. They’re part of the development cycle. But the industry has been changing, moving away from limited test runs of a few units toward multiphase tests before launch. The development cycle still entails a few units, but then uses the learnings to modify versions and tests again in a larger number of stores.
Some retailers even test multiple different versions of display systems in other stores to arrive at timelier decisions. Measuring engagement more efficiently not only maximizes your budget, but also increases your chances of success.
5. Think versatile.
A seasonal display shouldn’t necessarily have a shelf life of that season alone. If you were to design the next system to include various separate components that could later be dismantled and reconstructed for an entirely new display, you could stretch that display budget until it’s almost paper-thin. Think of the components as LEGO bricks that can be reused to build different displays.
Apparel arms, for example, could be used first on the display and then on the wall — that, or mounted in different configurations. Do something similar with shelving. Better yet, build the system to accommodate different-sized retail locations, where only certain components are used in the space, or each component has its own standalone value.
6. Leverage storytelling.
Experiential marketing has grown in popularity for a reason. Consumers are more likely to engage with it. Think about how you can advance your brand’s story within the retail environment to create an unforgettable shopping experience. Would an A/V component serve your brand best? What sort of messaging could draw shoppers into the display? Are there ways to integrate the physical and virtual worlds? Again, it’s all about getting creative with whatever funds you have.
7. Explore new avenues.
Traditional has its place in the retail environment, but not always with a limited budget. Explore new avenues that might spark renewed interest, such as pop-up shops or mobile showrooms that can help you meet consumers where they are. Either option would give you the opportunity to set up shop in a parking lot, stadium, conference center, etc.
A reduced marketing budget simply means you need to get innovative and resourceful in your approach to create an environment that encourages shoppers to buy. Prioritize projects, lean on what you know, and devote funds to something new to use your budget to the max.
Bob Marsh is a keynote speaker on sales and leadership and chief revenue officer of Bluewater, a design-forward technology company that helps craft moments that connect and inspire.
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Bob Marsh is a keynote speaker on sales and leadership and chief revenue officer of Bluewater, a design-forward technology company that helps craft moments that connect and inspire. Specializing in retail technology, displays and fixtures, as well as AV integration and event tech services, Bluewater works with top brands including Bridgestone, Rocket Mortgage, and Forbes.