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6 Things To Do Now If Your Shopper Marketing Budget Is Underspent

6 things to do now if your shopper marketing budget is underspent-879364-edited.jpgImagine: you just got notified by your finance department that a significant portion of your annual budget is left unspent, and it's mid-December. If you've never been in this situation, you are either lucky or a planning god because virtually every shopper marketer I've spoken with has experienced significant budget "surprises" more often than they wish to admit.

I don't know if it's human nature to be optimistic and overestimate redemption rates and plan for better program sell-in outcomes; or if it's our subconscious fear of being over-spent that was instilled as we were taught how to establish our personal credit history, but shopper marketers are notorious when it comes to finding pockets of unused cash at the very end of Q4.

While it may seem like a disastrous situation because it could reflect poorly on you and your team and jeopardize your future budget asks, don't despair! I tend to look for a silver lining in this situation and hereby offer six ideas for how to invest your unused shopper marketing funds with purpose, and do it FAST!

1. Test & Learn new tactics

You meant to try emerging digital marketing capabilities all year long but never had bandwidth or budget to test and give them proper consideration. Now is the time! Thankfully, most of the digital tactics are templetized and streamlined, which means they can be set up in a matter of days, not weeks, especially if you have all your assets ready to go:

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Velveeta ad on Pandora
  • Shopping Apps like iBotta and ShopKick: Shopping apps are mobile apps that guide shopping experience and offer brand engagement opportunities and rewards. They require little artwork and are easy to set up.
  • Digital Video Ads like YouTube video ads: Digital video ads add a sense of urgency to your national ad campaigns by promoting your retailer-specific digital coupon offers and driving traffic to your customer stores.
  • Digital Radio ads like Pandora: Take advantage of the holiday digital radio usage spike. Pandora's quick templetized set up process puts your brands and retail promotions in shoppers' ears in no time.
  • Digital Ad Banners like Google or MaxPoint: Geo-target shoppers around your retail client stores and drive holiday traffic to give your brands a sales boost to finish the year strong.
  • Load-to-Card Coupons like You Technology, Catalina, News America or Quotient: They are no longer new, but load-to-card coupons are one of the most popular options to supplement your in-store promotions or as stand-alone campaigns and take little time to turn on.
  • Newspaper Ads, for instance Valassis Run of Press (ROP). While there is nothing new or digital about it, it could be a very useful tactic if your brand's target market is baby boomers. Did you know that it has extremely short lead times? Often, the orders are turned around on a 48-hour notice!

2. Create some AWESOME content

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Collective Bias makeup blogger campaign
  • Bloggers: Reach out to your PR or Blogger agency to put together a quick blogger outreach campaign. If you don't work with an agency today, check out Collective Bias, Pollinate Media Group, Ahalogy (Pinterest experts) and Izea (Creator Marketplace).
  • Web Content Partners: meet the folks at lifestyle websites like Daily Break, Women’s Forum. They are pros at generating engaging shopper content. Daily Break is our favorite because of the really cool way they engage shoppers with gamified content. Keep in mind that digital lifestyle content works best in conjunction with digital coupon offers.

3. Invest in Education

4. Thank your customers, team and agency

  • Take your team and shopper marketing agency out for a nice dinner.
  • Create a unique digital promo code for your products that can be redeemed at your retail customer's e-commerce website and give it to all clients and partners instead of traditional holiday greeting cards, paper coupon booklets or sending physical products.

5. Procure New Shopper marketing technology & tools

  • Improve your team's collaboration and planning skills by buying that shopper marketing software you've been curious about ;-)
  • Try smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home Assistant to learn how they will influence the shopping experience in the near future. One of the ways to give them a test drive is to set them up in your office and automate coffee, snacks and office supplies purchases.
  • Get ergonomic furniture to keep your team healthy & happy.

6. Plan for business growth

  • Book a venue for an offsite team and agency meeting early next year to have your team's creative juices going. Discuss breakthrough ideas and build stronger team bonds.

What are your favorite ways to activate shopper promotions on a quick notice? How do you invest in your team's capabilities and continuous improvement?

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After more than 15 years in Consumer Packaged Goods industry, I became a software entrepreneur. Today, I design and sell Shopperations, a web-based, collaborative planning software for Marketers on both CPG and Retail sides, to enable transparency, accountability and stronger Shopper Marketing promotional analytics. I am passionate about all things Retail and Shopper Marketing, love reading about Neuroscience progress as it relates to shopper research, and care about process improvement and marketing automation technology.
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