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Gartner Poll: 65% of Marketers Brace for Budget Cuts Due to COVID-19

By Anna Maria Virzi | March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

Marketing

Marketing leaders want to be proactive and help their organizations navigate disruption amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But many are overwhelmed by this new reality: Marketing budgets will be cut – many significantly.

Consider a poll we took during Gartner for Marketers Research Connections webinar on “Marketing in Uncertainty” today. We asked clients how they expect their marketing budgets will now change. The results suggest that marketing leaders must make difficult and rapid decisions. Almost two-thirds of the marketing leaders who attended expect to face moderate or significant budget cuts in 2020.

 

Q. What impact do you expect COVID-19 to have on your marketing budget in 2020, relative to your original plan?” n=176
Significantly decreased budget (15% or more decreased from plan) 32%
Moderately decreased budget (5 to 15% decreased from plan) 33%
No or slight change to budget (within 5% of plan) 27%
Moderately increased budget (5 to 15% increased over plan) 3%
Significantly increased budget (15% or more increased over plan) 1%

 

Compare that to the summer of 2019 when we asked CMOs in Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey about their expectations for 2020 budgets. At that time, 63% of the CMOs surveyed said they anticipated a budget increase. Only 15% projected marketing budget cuts in 2020.

During today’s webinar, we asked marketing leaders: “What if any actions, has your marketing department taken in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic?” The No. 1 response comes as no surprise in light of travel restrictions: 68% said they are canceling or postponing customer-facing marketing events. The second is no surprise, either, if you’ve made time to read through messages in your inbox: 63% launched special communications to customers.

Q. What, if any, actions has your marketing department taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? n=348
Canceled or postponed customer-facing marketing events 68%
Launched special COVID-19 communications to customers 63%
Delayed a campaign launch 45%
Altered ad creative 34%
Developed scenarios for planning purposes 34%
Paused or canceled any long-term projects 28%
Canceled a media buy 26%
Changed customer policies (such as refund or cancellation policies) 21%
Deployed listening tools to monitor customer COVID-19 sentiment or trends 21%
Promoted your e-commerce offerings 19%
Canceled or altered commitments to agencies 11%
Other 8%
No actions 2%

Unsure of what next steps to take? CMOs must develop a range of contingency plans to address changing customer needs and disruptions to workplaces, events and tactics. See Gartner’s report, “March 2020 Update: Actions CMOs Must Take Now to Prepare for the Impact of the Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease.”  Gartner analysts Augie RayAndrew FrankMike McGuireZachary Weinberg share best practices for addressing changing customer needs and disruptions to workplaces, events and tactics.

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