David and Goliath: What Small Businesses Can Learn from P&G’s Cost-Cutting Exercise

Here are three lessons entrepreneurs can learn from P&G’s latest cost-cutting exercise.

Recently P&G’s CEO, Robert McDonald, announced that they would lay off 1,600 staffers, including marketers, as part of a cost-cutting exercise (Business Insider). Apparently the consumer packaged goods company has realized that their “$10 billion annual ad budget has hurt the company’s margins.”

But is it P&G’s fault, really? Is the past indicative of the future? Or, could “benchmark dependency” and a variety of “tardy” decisions be the culprit?

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Big Business

A large majority of ‘goliath-like’ companies invest their market spend allocation (MSA) budgets in traditional media outlets which could be deemed as increasingly “too expensive” by some. However, it appears as though behemoths, such as P&G, are finally coping with the idea that they should attempt to run lean and mean … and possibly more efficiently. Like a startup perhaps?

It’s not unheard of for startups to take a creative and lean approach when it comes to the marketing mix. But, amidst looming “cost-cutting exercises” at larger companies, what lessons can small businesses can learn from ‘Goliath-like’ missteps?

Here are three lessons that come to mind:

1. Don’t be afraid to invest in tactics that have historically proven to deliver positive results.

“P&G’s Old Spice campaign is a textbook example of what the entire company should be doing, But, they aren’t.”

In efforts to please stakeholders and deliver short-term results, many companies invest heavily in traditional tactics that have fared well in the past, and possibly even in the present, yet they are slow to act on new learnings. As a small business your competitive advantage lies in your agility. If you should come across new and proven ideas that yield immediate value, don’t hesitate to build upon it. Roll-out test plans across your entire company. Scrap what doesn’t work and make room for possibilities.


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