UK: Keeping Marketing Costs Low In A Recession

Last Updated: 8 November 2012

In difficult times, as the customer pool shrinks and budgets tighten, companies must fine-tune their marketing efforts. Here are 12 tips on refining your marketing approach to maximise effectiveness and minimise costs:

  1. Eliminate marginal investments.
  2. Increase direct marketing.
  3. Negotiate discounts on trade publication advertising.
  4. Use trade shows smartly.
  5. Enhance your website.
  6. Move to virtual seminars and workshops.
  7. Put marketing collateral online.
  8. Publish articles on your subject of expertise.
  9. Use newsletters.
  10. Provide speakers to meetings and conferences.
  11. Find a marketing partner.
  12. Create a referral programme.

1. Eliminate marginal investments

Interview your salespeople to identify which marketing tools have been most instrumental in successfully selling your products or services. Determine which marketing programme has played the biggest role in snaring recent sales and allocate your marketing budget toward those programmes. Then take these steps:

  • Eliminate marketing communications projects you might never get around to anyway. These "wish list" projects can be added back to the marketing to-do list when the economy turns around and you have the money and resources needed to do them right.
  • Eliminate marketing designed only to enhance your brand. These marketing programmes won't have much effect on your short-term sales results. Instead, focus on generating leads and sales from a well-targeted group of prospects and let the quality of your marketing communications, response materials and website take care of enhancing your company's image.
  • Eliminate marketing programmes that have not shown a significant positive ROI, as measured by leads or sales. Determine which programmes will have the biggest impact on generating qualified, sales-ready leads and short-term sales. Make sure these stay at the top of the list for funding and implementation.

2. Increase direct marketing

Increase your use of email and postal mail to deliver targeted offers to your most desirable prospects.

Postal mail may get through when your email gets blocked as spam. To cut costs, use laser-printed business letters rather than expensive full-colour mailers. Rather than doing one-time postal mailings to rented lists, improve your results by sending repeat mailings targeted at known prospects (such as your own prospect database). Save money by sending expensive literature or materials only to those who request them – not to every prospect in your database.

If you don't have your own email lists to market to, consider having publishers send your email to their lists for you, or placing ads in targeted e-newsletters or e-zines. These are economical ways to get past email filters, reach your prospects directly and generate a quick response.

3. Negotiate discounts on trade publication advertising

In these difficult times, you will likely be better off with a high-frequency or high-impact presence in one or two key publications than with an occasional presence in several.

Study circulation information to clearly understand what percentage of the magazine's readership is really part of your target market. Ask your media rep to give you statistics on what percentage of their subscribers also read competitive magazines, and consider this information when calculating your true cost per thousand.

Be sure your print ads are benefit or solution focused (rather than emphasising "features"), with strong calls-to-action designed to generate leads or drive sales.

When the economy is soft, trade publication advertising sales are often weak. This allows you to negotiate an attractive rate with publishers.

4. Use trade shows smartly

Trade shows can be expensive, so consider eliminating those that haven't previously shown a favourable ROI. Instead, concentrate your investments in those shows and conferences that have proved effective in generating leads and driving sales.

Then look for ways to reduce your trade show costs and boost your ROI. For example, consider hosting a smaller exhibit. Ask your dealers, distributors or resellers to help you staff the booth. Eliminate expensive cocktail parties. Send pre-show mailings to increase the number of visitors to your booth and lower your overall cost per lead. Send post-show mailings and use telemarketing follow-up to convert casual enquiries into qualified leads.

5. Enhance your website

A few cost-effective changes can turn your website into a sales lead generation machine.

  • Select and use keywords carefully so that your site appears in the search results for your intended audience.
  • Post keyword-rich articles and case studies on your site.
  • To turn visitors into leads, place offers or calls-to-action on every page of your website.
  • Back up your claims with proof, including certifications, awards and customer testimonials.

6. Move to virtual seminars and workshops

You can cut some of the cost of your seminars and workshops by hosting them online. Webinars, online product demonstrations and other virtual meetings eliminate travel expenses of presenters and staff. And virtual events sometimes enjoy better attendance than live events because attendees don't need to leave their offices. You still need to spend some of your marketing funds promoting your virtual events, but you can save a bundle on travel, meeting rooms and refreshments.

7. Put marketing collateral online

Our research shows that three in ten requesters still want printed materials to share with their bosses, colleagues or clients. This ratio also means that seven in ten will be happy and instantly gratified to be directed to your website or sent PDF files.

You can also save on printed literature production costs by avoiding expensive metallic inks, or by taking advantage of excess paper supplies your printer is willing to discount. Die cuts can be costly, but not if you use a die the printer already has created. You can also make items in smaller sizes or print two-sided materials to reduce printing and shipping costs.

8. Publish articles on your subject of expertise

Take advantage of inexpensive opportunities such as writing or contributing articles to industry publications, business magazines, blogs and websites. Articles showcase your expertise to a highly targeted audience of your prospective clients. They can learn more about your company if you put a short biography at the end of the article and a link to a free white paper or how-to guide.

Use your article to gain media attention by shortening it and distributing it as a press release with a newswire service. Make sure your release links back to the full version of the article posted on your site. Additionally, you can post comments on relevant online news stories or industry blogs, and in your comment include a link to your article.

You may also consider writing a more in-depth version of the article, a white paper or special report, and offering it to website visitors.

9. Use newsletters

Newsletters are another great way to provide customer value and keep your company's name top-of-mind without spending a fortune. Consider using your newsletter to help you identify and qualify prospects. That is, make newsletter subscription involve filling out a brief survey that asks questions about people's level of interest in your products, buying authority and purchasing horizon. This information can go into your database for immediate or future follow-up, as appropriate, by marketing or sales. Be sure to also publish your newsletter on your website.

10. Provide speakers to meetings and conferences

Another economical marketing tactic is to promote your company's executives as potential speakers at key meetings and conferences. Speaking at prominent events positions those executives as experts. You can also use these events to generate leads by offering audience members a copy of the presentation, a free white paper or some other piece of valuable information if they give you a business card.

11. Find a marketing partner

Stretch your marketing pounds by teaming up with a company whose products or services complement yours. By pooling your resources, you and your partner can get far more mileage from your respective investments than either of you could alone.

For example, consider jointly sponsoring a mailing to promote products and services of both partners to their mutual universe of prospects. Not only do you split the costs, but you also gain access to additional prospects.

12. Create a referral programme

Leverage the power of your existing customers by creating a referral programme that rewards customers for sending prospects to your company. Getting referrals from happy long-term customers may be as easy as simply asking for it. Additional incentives, though worth considering, may not be required.

These ideas may trigger additional ways to cut the fat in your marketing programmes and better focus your marketing efforts on driving short-term leads and sales during these difficult economic times. Doing so will help enhance marketing's reputation with senior management as a valuable contributor to the corporate mission.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.