The First Step in Reducing Your 2019 Marketing Spend: Assess Your Team

It’s officially Q4 which means we are in 2019 marketing planning season. My non-scientific deduction of most companies’ opinion of marketing’s relation to fiscal responsibility is that it is seen as a cost center. I have personally witnessed this in my career and have heard peers opine about it at conferences, such as “Marketing wastes money” or “Marketing has a ton of money, let’s take that from their marketing budget to pay for x.” I could argue that most companies are not educating their employees the value and purpose of marketing. I always recall a story from my first job out of college where a product manager stopped by my desk because he needed a t-shirt since he spilled coffee on his.

I’ve also never heard of a company that says “We want to spend more money on marketing.” Doing more with less is (or should be) the motto for every department in every company. Every employee should be a good corporate citizen and think of the cost behind their decisions. As a Director of Marketing, I not only have to focus on revenue growth but also margins. While I should not admit this (sorry, boss!), but when I came on board, I was shocked at the amount that was spent in marketing with little to show for it. Reporting on ROI was not even prioritized. My first order of business was to cut the budget and be more cost-effective while driving qualified and engaged leads.

Fortunately, we have kept our business model relatively simple which helps keep complexity out of our marketing. Though we are a small team, these best-practices can easily be scaled to larger, enterprise-level companies. Here, I’ll be covering the first cost-saving tactics: people.

Hiring for a “get it done” attitude and broad skill sets

We are a startup and by nature of that, we have a small team. While it would be ideal to have dedicated functional roles for content, demand gen, etc., headcount can get costly when you think of the full cost of an employee (salary, benefits, healthcare, etc) and the time it takes to manage and collaborate across a larger team.


I have chosen to keep the team small but stacked with high-performers who excel when wearing many hats. This frees up budget for campaigns and technology that will help get us to our goals. This is also beneficial to the employee if they are earlier in their career to build their resume (although I would never want these people to leave, they are invaluable to the team) or looking to gain new skills sets.

Contract Resources

When I have a specific functional need or project, I rely on contract resources to supplement the team’s skill set. I supplement our team in the following ways:

  1. UpWork Freelancers
  2. Part-Time Contractors

I have used UpWork as a low risk way to vet out resources on a project basis. Eventually, I found my go-to resource to fill the gaps in resources, specifically web development and graphic designers.

Supplement with a part-time contractor to manage heavier responsibilities. I have a team member who is part-time but comes into the office twice a week to collaborate with the team and contribute. I usually reserve part-time contractors for work that requires them to be very familiar with our industry, product, and brand, such as content development to retain continuity.

Caution - burn out is a real thing and when you are working in this capacity,  it’s crucial to be tuned in to your team and know when to adjust. I reference color personalities a lot. It is an easy way to identify how team members excel in interpersonal relationships. I am a strong red, which means I am action-oriented and very analytical. I often jump to look for a solution to a problem but the downside is I can often focus less on the details. Knowing this about myself, I know that I should build my team with blue and green personality traits.


Recommendation for small teams

Evaluate your current state and goals for the year and even beyond. What are some of your team’s strengths and weaknesses? Think about what your team would need to look like in order to scale for those growth goals.

Recommendation for larger teams

Audit your current team members and any 3rd party resources you may be using. Have you been reaching your goals? Is there any area of duplication? It’s ok to restructure the team or updates processes if it means reaching your goals more efficiently. Organization structures tend to stay with the status quo because “It’s always been this way.” As your strategy changes, your team should change with it. This will give your team the opportunity to learn something new and work with different people and processes.

Recommendation for all

If your team is spending a lot of time focusing on non-strategic or manual tasks such as data cleaning (removing duplicates or junk records), this could be causing burnout and wasting value resource time that should be focused on strategic initiatives.

See how SmartSuite can enable your marketing campaigns and not only save your team time, but money. 

Request a Demo

New call-to-action

marketing budget

Subscribe to the Blog