There comes a time in the organization when the marketing strategy needs to be adjusted.
Usually, this comes about due to some sort of internal or external pressure, change, or disruption. Change can be good – and it’s often necessary. The wrong change, though, can take you down an undesired path and lead to your demise.
Don’t fear, though. To adjust a marketing strategy, there is a simple three-step approach that I outline in greater detail in my book, Ride The Tornado: A Guide to Handle Rapid Change. For now, in this post, I’ll briefly outline the three pillars that should impact your approach to change. These are the greatest factors toward your success in strategy adjustments.
First Pillar: Data
If change is necessary, something is putting pressure on the status quo. Either the data or the market (these things are not synonyms) is changing, and as a result, you need to adjust your strategy to reach your goals. The data may reflect a dramatic change in the results of your marketing efforts to date, or you may observe a change in the market that requires a shift to your strategy. Either way, your current efforts won’t continue to support the goals you are aiming for.
So, your first step as a marketer is to get a really strong sense of the data and (or) identify what is happening in the marketplace. Are you having traffic issues? Are you having conversion challenges? Is the market susceptible to a lack of demand? Are there geopolitical concerns? Some of these metrics are very firm and some are fuzzier. In any case, you can get an understanding of the world around you through the data available to you as a marketer. It would be foolish to make any changes to your strategy without a really good understanding of the data and the trends that are driving this change.
If you can build a really strong collection of data (and an understanding of it, too), you’ll gain increased confidence and clarity as you iterate your next strategy.
Second Pillar: Agile Thinking
The second pillar in a change of strategy is to both plan and leave room for improvisation. I’ve titled this section “Agile Thinking”, but the word “agile” is abused in many contexts, so I actually prefer the phrase “rapid thinking and execution” to clearly define this approach. In marketing, we need to rapidly think and execute tactics, making adjustments while pursuing the goal. This is the essence of an “agile “marketing effort.
Your level of confidence in your insight is highly correlated to your ability to shift your strategy as you move forward.
We generally recommend not having a strategy that tries to plan more than 6 to 9 months in advance. The reason for this is simple: Change happens. And, as human beings, we are really bad at understanding and grappling with potential change. So, we need to create a process that allows us to change – a plan that actually embraces change as necessary in the effective pursuit of a goal. As you adjust your strategy, think short-term with long-term implications. There is an art to this approach, and there are tools that help to both define tactics and effective implementations of those tactics. (Again, Ride the Tornado covers tools and tactics in more detail than I have space for here.)
Third Pillar: Tactical Execution
You might be asking yourself why execution is even mentioned in a strategic article. That’s because an idea is only responsible for 1% of its success. To put it another way: Talk is cheap, and most strategy is just talk.
Making something happen is where a strategy comes alive. So, when considering an adjustment to your strategy, you must have a strong sense of your abilities to execute that strategy. It makes no sense to adjust your strategy toward tactics requiring capabilities that you and your team do not possess. Yes, you can hire new staff for the new strategy (in fact you may have to, depending on how big your strategy adjustment is). But, for most companies, I would suggest that your strategy needs to consider the resources available.
Basically, you need to factor in ROI before making a change. If money was no object, then you could adjust to any strategy you would like to. But that’s not reality. In reality, you have budgets, you have limitations, you have constraints. The strategy will be stronger, and likely a greater success, when you balance it against the costs of the resources it requires.
Ready to Jump In?
These three pillars will help you to adjust your strategies effectively as the market and data demand. Neglect one of these pillars to your own demise. Embrace them, and you’ll you mitigate risk and cost while greatly increasing the chance that your strategy succeeds.