Daily Insights

Kill the Zombie Programs that Drain Marketing Budgets

By: Christopher Ross | Oct 31, 2019

Zombies are sucking the brains from your marketing organization. These are the technologies, partnerships, and programs that no longer return value. Not thriving but not dead, they absorb marketing budgets and the efforts of talented people without bringing a worthwhile return. Marketing leaders too often let them be instead of flushing the zombies out.

The zombie virus spreads in marketing through a number of vectors. Programs that have good alignment at launch may not fit anymore after a strategy shift, yet no one shuts them down. Others have strong early momentum, but then plateau and stay plateaued. And every organization has its share of vanity projects championed by a powerful leader to whom no one says no.

Zombies also take many forms. They include technologies that have only a few users, an array of unused features, or functions available through other sources. Partnerships can also become zombies if a short term project never really ends, or different parts of marketing sign separate contracts with agencies that provide more or less the same services.

Zombies are easy to spawn and hard to kill—but not impossible. Marketing leaders can start by adopting a “zero-based budgeting” method, whereby leaders justify budget items based on estimated future value to the business, not on past performance. Zero-based methods can flush out hidden zombie projects. Leaders should also be willing to cut underutilized technologies that add costs without bringing value.

See more: Marketing