Businesses with written marketing strategies always outperform those approaching marketing with an ad hoc spirit. But how often do you use a formal strategy? How do you know when it is time tweak it? I always tell my clients that marketing is a long-term business investment that shouldn’t be dramatically changed too frequently. However, I also believe that being flexible is smart business. There are certainly appropriate times to shift marketing strategies. Sometimes determining the right time to pivot the strategy may be difficult to ascertain. Here are a few pointers for getting started:
- Take inventory of your marketing plan. Identify what you have accomplished and how you have done. Determine which marketing endeavors are delivering results and which are falling short. If you haven’t had a formal measurement system, start by looking at snapshots of financial records and the rate of incoming business. Compare those figures to the same timeframe of website traffic and other external marketing communication programs that have measurable results. Look for patterns and compare to the economic scenarios of the time. If your overall growth has been flat, or declining over the years, it may be time for a shift in your strategy.
- Review existing marketing goals. These goals need to reflect your current service offerings. If your services, target customers and the market are not aligned, it is time to adjust.
- How is your team? Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your team and match their skills to the marketing goals. This will allow you to match people to the initiatives appropriately.
- Get real feedback from your customers. Understand what the industry is looking for and see if your clients’ demands are the same. Find out who uses your services and why, as well as what specifically keeps them coming back to you.
- Once you have done this homework, it is time to look at what is specifically missing in your marketing plan. Remember, it probably isn’t necessary to start over from scratch, but rather re-adjust according to the current market demands. Consider what components you may repackage for your target markets, as well as any new initiatives that can be added, such as social media.
Pivoting a marketing strategy can sound scary and costly, but it doesn’t need to be. Carefully analyzing current marketing practices will uncover new ways to present your business. Be thoughtful in your process, use measurable methods and think long-term. At the same time, remain flexible and review your results several times a year.