Working out marketing strategies can be difficult and time-consuming, and often it seems as though, once you’ve got something in place, the work and time it takes isn’t worth the possible benefit of making a change.
But yesterday’s marketing strategy was made for yesterday, and the rapid changes we see almost every day in search engine algorithms, social media use trends, and even the effectiveness of offline marketing tools mean that you can’t just trust yesterday’s tools to work the same way today. So how do you know when it’s time to update your inbound marketing strategy? These are just a few of the signs to watch for, in order of best to worst.
1. It’s Been a While
Let’s start with the most innocuous one; if it’s been a year or more since you last thought about at least tweaking your marketing strategy, it’s been way too long. While not every company has the agility to make adjustments on a month-by-month or campaign-by-campaign basis, there’s no excuse for letting something so important gather dust.
Companies that fail to regularly evaluate their data and make appropriate changes can slide into marketing disaster before they even realize it happens. Don’t wait until the only solution is a dramatic shift; keep your hand on the wheel and course-correct at the first sign of a bump in the road. Even if everything is working just fine, stopping to evaluate will give you the assurance that you're on the right track and don't have any nasty surprises on the way.
2. You Have New Data
When new information comes in, use it! Data is like gold, and a good marketer will prospect through every email, every blog post, and every form submission to find those precious little bits. The point of constantly gathering data--through your marketing efforts, through your sales team, through networking, through research--is to build the roadmap that guides your marketing efforts to success. As you get new data, build it into what you already have to create an ever-clearer picture and plan for the future.
3. Your Results are Changing
If things that used to work well suddenly seem less and less effective, it’s time to shake things up before they get any worse. Start A/B testing new ideas as soon as possible so that you can identify what is no longer working and also get a handle on what to do next. Some things are tried-and-true, but don’t risk your company for the sake of tradition. The marketing slogan you loved a few years ago might be sounding a little tired to the audience that has heard it a thousand times.
Re-thinking your plan is hard but suffering because you didn't re-think it soon enough is harder. If you're putting in the same work but the results aren't there anymore, don't just hope that it will go back to the way it used to be. Figure out how to move on to bigger and better things.
4. It Just Isn't Working
Did you ignore it when your results started to change? Did you close your eyes to the new data that was coming in? If your marketing has gone from "fine" to "not ideal" to "not working," it's time to do some serious and honest pruning. Really look at the evidence; if you can't prove that something is working, or worse, if you can prove that it isn't working, stop throwing good money after bad. Take what you have that works and make it the seed of something new.
5. You Don’t HAVE a Strategy
It hurt me just to write that one, but I’ve seen with my own eyes that many companies simply don’t have a marketing strategy. I’m not going to yell at you; you can’t un-make a past mistake, even a giant one like that. What you can (and definitely should) do is to put together a strategy immediately. Don’t trust your marketing to luck and don’t let your company get caught in the chaos that happens when nobody knows what to do next. Throwing marketing work at a wall to see what sticks is not the way to success. You wouldn’t run the rest of your business without a strategy; what has led you to believe marketing works differently?
So, What's the Point?
Did you notice the trend up there? What starts as ignoring a best practice (regular, scheduled reviews of strategy) will almost inevitably turn gradually into a bigger and bigger problem. Like any other pursuit in life, excellence in marketing requires planning, followthrough, and consistent evaluation.
A marketing strategy is a living, breathing thing. If you’re thinking of your strategy as fixed or finalized, you’re missing out on the most exciting part of this whole thing! No matter how boring or simple your product may be, your company will benefit if you allow your marketing to be dynamic, fresh, and data-driven. Give it some life and some room to breathe and grow; you won’t be disappointed with the results.
How do you keep track of when it's time to take a new look at your marketing approach? Let us know by tweeting at us at @smartbugmedia.