Saving The B2B Budget.

The phone was still ringing at Twisk HQ. I swiped to accept the call and recognised the voice of someone trying to save their B2B budget.

“Hi Scot, good to speak to you again. Sorry it’s been a while, but I’m in a new role now, new B2B budget and I think I may have some work for you.

[Pause for effect]

[No real effect achieved]

[Slightly awkward silence…]

“Anyway, I’ve put a brief together that I’m sharing with a few companies and I thought I’d send it through to you – just wanted to call first and make sure you’re still there.”

“Thanks for calling. Yes, still here. ‘Established 1994’ so we know how to be, ‘still here’.”

“Great, shall I send the brief to you then?”

“Actually, no, I don’t think this is going to be for us.”

“Wait, what? But this is right up your street. The brand marketing you did for me before was great. This is the perfect opportunity for you.”

“I think you should just let the other agencies do it. Thanks for calling though – we appreciate the interest, and good luck with the new role. Bye…”

“Hang on, I don’t understand. Why aren’t you jumping at this? I’m rebranding. I’m a returning customer, coming back for more, I have a B2B budget. That’s as good as it gets isn’t it…?”


[Consider outcomes.]

[All end like a Greek tragedy.]

[Carry on regardless…]

“Sometimes, yes, sometimes it is good. Clients come back again and again, then change jobs and continue to come back again and again – they’re great. As you said, good, proven relationships. But that’s not you. You’re a saver and I’ve elected not to work with savers anymore – blood pressure, ulcers, nerves, stuff…”

“I’m a what? A ‘saver’? What’s a saver…?”

“Constantly trying to save money. You brief the project, we scope and specify it, you agree it, and then comes an endless series of conversations and meetings about saving the B2B budget. Could we save resource? Could the materials be changed to save money, could the specification be changed to save money, could the scale of delivery be changed to save money…?”

“It’s my job to protect the B2B budget.”

“Actually, the business protects the budget, your job is to manage the budget.”

“It’s the same thing.”

“Well, no, it isn’t. In marketing, everyone’s job is to spend money. When’s the last time the CEO said, “Here’s the marketing budget, see how many leads you can generate by saving it”?” Work within a budget, sure, but spend it, don’t save it. Generate a return on the investment maybe, but save on the budget? As a B2B marketing professional, what’s the point of that?”

“It means we can spend more in other areas.”

“No, it doesn’t. It just means you spend less in the areas that you need to spend more in. It means you do a lot of things, but none of them very well. It means that great creative marketing ideas become average B2B marketing ideas. It means ‘B2B Campaign of the Year’ becomes ‘Limited Budget Campaign of the Year’. I’ve won ‘Limited Budget Campaign of the Year’ – twice, and it sucked, both times. You’re being applauded for taking big brand ideas and squeezing, and shaving, and saving them into small brand delivery.”

“You’re shooting yourself in the foot here. You have no idea the size of my budget or how much I was about to spend with you. I could’ve been your biggest client.”

“You’re still not listening. It’s not the size of the B2B budget. We work with ludicrously small B2B branding budgets every day and smile. It’s your saver mentality that’s the problem. You’ll allocate the budget, and then immediately start trying to save against it. It’ll cost me more on version control and stress than I’ll make on the project, only to achieve sub-optimal delivery. ‘Marketing by Austerity’. The Government’s tried the austerity strategy for the last decade and look where that’s taken us…”

“This is outrageous. I’ll never come back to you again.”

“I think we can both agree that would be for the best.”

“How have you ever managed to stay in business this long?”

“Well, the answer to that is if you’re trying to turn complex, boring, brand positioning into simple, creative, stories, we’re the best. But you’re asking the wrong question. The real question is how have I managed to put up with budget savers like you for this long?”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Maybe. But I’m only working with marketing spenders from now on. People who know we can help because we’ve done it before, or people who believe we can help because they have the faith to spend against agreed marketing budgets and objectives. But don’t freak out about it – there are loads of agencies that will be happy to help you ‘save your budget’ – just follow the herd… eh, hello…?”

[SFX: Dial tone – Beeeeeeeeeeepp…]

[Captain’s Log: Successfully jettisoned excess ballast – it was only ever going to drag us down. Didn’t call him an indecisive, penny-pinching, asshole once. My bedside manner is clearly improving. Forward all engines. Cruising speed.]

Scot McKee