The cost of living crisis – or, brace yourself, cozzie livs – is an unavoidable issue at the moment. And it effects brands as much as it does people. When money is expensive, every spending decision matters. Every penny needs to justify its outlay – and preferably, bring 2p back into the business. There’s a lot you can do to make your marketing budget work harder and, especially in digital, smart saving can easily transform into smart success.

So here are our tips to make your marketing investment work hard in 2023 – spending less, and delivering more.


1. Invest in brand

Another way of saying this is don’t cut corners to get to sales. Focusing your efforts and budgets on long-term brand building to support immediate activation is essential for brand longevity. Don’t scrape over the line in Q1 and leave nothing in the tank for Q4. Climbing out of recession is a long-term game.

Consider the 60/40 Brand vs Sales approach. Carve out specific responses to each tactic, including what metrics you optimise towards for the length of the campaign. If you don’t support your sales campaign with growing brand awareness, you will hit your conversion ceiling quickly.

Remember 60/40 is a guide not a rule. Different types of business will have differing optimal brand investment strategies during times of market contraction. If you’re unsure what type of business you are, we have recommendations for each vertical based on the pioneering work of Les Binet and Peter Field. (Did we mention we’re an accredited IPA Effectiveness Accredited agency?) 


2. Balance your want for performance against your need for control

Once you have decided on your strategic priorities and business objectives, you need to map the most efficient ways to make them happen across your channels. In digital advertising, we’re often pitting the want for performance against the need for control, and often to our own detriment as we force awareness and conversion tactics all out of the same campaign. 

It is essential you understand the balance of what your brand needs to control, such as:

  • Locations for targeting
  • Creative visualisations
  • Focused audience profiles

Versus where you can leverage performance tactics from within the platforms:

  • Broader audience targeting
  • Dynamic creative

Meta has the numbers on this:

Select more images to improve performance by up to 5.76%. Ads generated by dynamic creative with the same budget saw better results by adding up to 10 images or video.  

So make sure you know where your best place to flex is.


3. Get creative with your budget

Another way to make your advertising money go further is to invest smarter. A lot of the time, this means – invest in creative. Creative is the biggest competitive advantage you can have in marketing. Linkedin Creative labs reported effective creative drives 10-20x more sales.

Creative comes in all shapes and sizes. But where possible, invest in video. There are multiple advantages to this to offset the initial investment, Hootsuite FB 2021 statistics reported video is growing across Meta. with 22% of organic posts being video (up 7% from 2018).

Furthermore if you’re following our recommendations above and investing in brand, your content will be more memorable: according to Hubspot, 80% of customers remember a video they viewed in the past month.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, utilising video opens up more possibilities for remarketing users, as the crumbling of the cookie continues to impact site wide retargeting.

NB: Instagram revealed only 60% of video is watched with sound on – so make sure you design for sound off and delight with sound on.


4. Know all the tricks to limit your production overheads

Struggling to produce video – or still can’t justify the production costs? Here are some some pocket-friendly placements designed not to blow the budget. 

  • Grow organic– Handheld, authentic content is naturally engaging, dodges Gen Z & Gen Alpha’s built-in BS detectors – and usually your budget for production is covered.
  • Go native – Remember in-platform format options like polls and carousels are seeing high engagement – Sproutsocial say carousels can drive 10x more traffic than static posts, and Linkedin Creative Labs reported x3.5 more leads with video
  • GIF it up – Video doesn’t have to just be recorded mp4. Static images can be easily edited into GIFs to hit that video reach objective. 
  • Meme what you say – remember emotional content drives better engagement and virality than rational facts. And the best emotion for sharing is funny – forget cute, cringe or anger-inducing.