Let’s talk about marketing strategy. It seems appropriate for a digital marketing blog. When was the last time you thought about your marketing? Sometimes the answer is “never.” In which case, I suggest that it’s a good idea to start with at least the bare minimum. When it comes to the business owners that do think about marketing, they generally fall into one of two camps. On one extreme, we have the “set-it-and-forget-it” crowd. They created a marketing strategy at some point in the last five years, and have stayed the course ever since. On the other extreme, we find the “serial updaters.” These business owners are constantly evaluating their marketing – only to blow it all up and start over.
You might think that I’m about to tell you that the “serial updaters” have the right idea. I won’t argue that a five-year-old marketing strategy is inefficient at best, and is completely ineffective at worst. Evaluating your marketing strategy against your changing professional goals and the ever-evolving digital world is vitally important for anyone who wants their marketing to work. So, everyone. However, serial updaters aren’t content with strategic evaluation and tweaks. They want to see significant results ASAP and think that frequent, wholesale changes are the only way to get there. There is quite a bit of overlap between this group and people who also suffer from “shiny object syndrome.” They see something interesting, get excited, rush to implement it….and then don’t wait to see if it works before giving up and turning to the next shiny object.
Unfortunately, changing your marketing strategy too often has the same results as not changing it enough, just for different reasons. While these strategies aren’t likely to become outdated, they’ll never be optimized either. If you never give a plan enough time to measure results, then you won’t have the data necessary to understand what works and what doesn’t. Without that understanding, you won’t know for sure if you’re making changes in the most impactful areas.
So, don’t update your marketing strategy too often, but also don’t ignore it for too long. Be Goldilocks and reevaluate your marketing juuuuust the right amount. Nothing like some specific advice, am I right? The best time to reevaluate a marketing strategy is different in every situation. But, I have good news. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all timeline but following a few basic rules will ensure that you’re strategically updating your marketing strategy and setting your organization up for success.
Set realistic and specific goals
The entire purpose of your marketing strategy is to help your business meet the goals you set for it. If you don’t clearly define your goals, then your marketing strategy isn’t guaranteed to help you achieve them. Most of all, please, be specific.
For example, don’t just fire off a quick, “I want to be a thought leader.” Define what being a thought leader looks like to you. Is it being published in major publications? Is it the number of social media followers you have? Is it being asked to speak at professional events? A marketing strategy aimed at growing your social media following will look different from one aimed at getting published more often. Being realistic upfront will help avoid frustration down the line.
Learn to love data
You can’t accurately evaluate a marketing strategy unless you know how it is performing. And you won’t know how it’s performing unless you’re also tracking relevant data over time. This step doesn’t have to be too complicated, and you won’t need an advanced degree in analytics to understand whether or not your marketing strategy is working.
When you’re developing an overall marketing strategy, and again when setting up individual campaigns, identify your key performance indicators. Then, track those indicators and evaluate the data regularly. This will keep you from making knee-jerk decisions grounded in an incomplete understanding of what is actually going on. For example, you might be ready to it quits on a campaign after a month of poor results. However, after looking at the data, you realize that the numbers suggest that things are starting to look up and your campaign just needs some more time to hit its stride. If you weren’t tracking data, you might end up trashing a perfectly good campaign a week before it starts to deliver exactly the results you are looking for.
I don’t recommend changing your entire marketing strategy every few months, but I think it is important to set time aside regularly to look at your overall strategy and use the data you’ve collected to evaluate how well your strategy is meeting your goals. This is more than a quick check-in. You should review your campaign data much more frequently – at least once a month – to catch any problems early
An evaluation is more than a check-in. It’s looking at four to six months of data, and discussing trends, highlighting successes, and pointing-out failures. It’s an opportunity to evaluate if your goals have changed and if your existing marketing strategy fits your new goals. And, sometimes, your evaluation will lead to making informed changes to your overall marketing strategy. Keyword: informed.
Some marketing campaigns will flop. It’s not fun, but it happens. If you’ve followed my advice so far, then you have data collected over a few months to help you pinpoint what failed. Now it’s time to make some changes. Notice, I said some changes. It is probably not time to throw your entire strategy out and start over. Look at the big picture of the data you’ve collected so far. Highlight what is working well, so you don’t waste effort on changing what works.
Focus your time figuring out why a campaign failed. Too many small business owners skip this vitally important step. Instead, they jump straight into a new, different campaign. Unfortunately, if they don’t understand why the last campaign failed, then different might not be better. If you want your latest campaign to succeed where the last failed, then you need to design one that addresses the previous version’s shortcomings. You’ll be glad you did.
Managing a small business’s marketing strategy is certainly time-consuming and important work. A good marketing strategy can be a major factor in meeting your organizational goals. If a lack of time is causing your organization’s marketing to fall through the cracks, reach out. The digital marketing experts at Spring Insight can help evaluate your current strategy and put your business on track to meet and exceed your goals.