What Is a Constraint in Marketing?

What Is a Constraint in Marketing?
••• Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Marketing is affected directly by constraints that reduce a company's ability to produce and distribute its message. Such limitations include factors such as funding, reach, time and a lack of dedicated staff. These constraints are an unavoidable part of the process but often can be planned for and adapted to as they occur.


Financial constraints are present in all aspects of business and are often the primary determining factor behind what type of marketing your company can create and distribute. Financial constraints can take the form of a limited marketing budget, falling sales, increased tax rates or anything else that limits the revenue that a business has to spend. Limited spend equals limited reach and less expensive marketing initiatives that may not have the same impact as more costly options. For example, a low-cost flyer distribution plan will not represent your luxury brand as accurately as a glossy magazine layout. Your target segment may perceive a drop in image status, and your brand will suffer as a result.


Marketing of all kinds has an inherent limit to the reach it can offer a brand. If you run a campaign on a local radio station, for example, the reach of your message is constrained by the strength of the signal and listener demographics. You can target the people within that area and group, but anyone outside is not a viable target. This limit on reach is a built-in constraint on the effect that your marketing will have and the audience you can address as a result.


The element of time is an immovable constraint on marketing efforts. The time is takes to create a new campaign can determine what type of initiative you run. The time of year determines the length and message of every campaign. The timing of sales and discount promotions must be configured precisely to create the maximum market impact. In many ways, time is the most important of marketing constraints. Even when you have the money, the staff and the reach you need, nothing works if you are too late or the timing of your efforts is off.


Staff limitation either in ability or size can be a serious constraint on the amount and types of marketing you are able to produce. This is a particularly pressing issue for smaller businesses that often have staff members who perform more than one function and therefore cannot dedicate the time and effort demanded by a comprehensive marketing strategy. Staff limitations can be eliminated with the hiring of more specialized people, but existing financial constraints sometimes prevent such steps from being taken. The best approach may involve hiring skilled marketers and then training them to take on other tasks as needed rather than thrusting marketing work onto relative novices then hoping for the best.