The annual marketing plan was plotted, poured over, and primed to align with the organization’s goals for the upcoming year. It was all going according to plan. Until, one day, it wasn’t.
Every organization can likely name a time when the marketing plan needed to shift gears – and fast. Perhaps research revealed a better target audience, the strategy was simply ineffective, or something more dramatic, like a societal shifting national emergency. Whatever the reason is to pivot, we have some key ideas to help you do it gracefully.
Don’t Throw the Marketing Plan Out with the Bathwater
In an ever-changing market, your organization’s approach to communication will inevitably need to shift. This couldn’t be more true or more applicable regardless of size than ever before. What may have been relevant two weeks ago could now impact you negatively. The economy is faltering, hospitals and governments are scrambling… Netflix seems to have run out of anything interesting to watch.
This doesn’t mean we crumple up the marketing plan and start a game of wastepaper basket hoops. There’s a reason your plan came to be: because it’s good! It communicates the value of your product or service, reaches the people most likely to buy, and bolsters your brand. Why remind ourselves of this? Because it’s another way of saying “don’t freak out.”
If you sell running shoes and there’s suddenly a temporary ban on running, you would be ill-advised to start pushing sandals. Sure, you may think sandals are more relevant and will gain better traction. But no one trusts (or expects) you to be an authority on sandals, for one, and you could potentially harm the brand image. Instead of abandoning your undeniable strengths, find strategic places to pivot. The who, where, and how are always good places to start.
Pivoting with Purpose
Digital advertising through social, email, and search engine marketing are going to be a company’s best friend for the foreseeable future. The good news is this has been the case for quite some time now. Following the quick tips below will help you (1) decide which changes within your marketing plan will be the most effective and (2) strengthen your virtual presence. That way, when our fictitious running ban is lifted, you’ll be at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Pick a Lane
Choosing 1-2 platforms will help maximize your efficiency. For example, if you have a large number of qualified email contacts, weekly email marketing campaigns should garner a good return on invested marketing hours. If you have thousands of followers on Facebook but only a few hundred on LinkedIn, you have your answer in where to invest. Aligning your efforts with your strengths will only make you stronger.
You’ve heard this social media thing is kinda important and you know you have to do more. So, you start posting regularly. Maybe throw a few dollars into an ad budget. Great job on taking the first steps. But – and its a big one – posting or advertising just to get your name out there isn’t enough. What goals are you trying to achieve? Sales, branding, and building contacts are all examples of objectives that guide marketing campaigns. The more focused your posts are on a specific goal, the more easily you’ll measure your success. And if those successes aren’t happening, the sooner you know it’s time to pivot again.
Plan for the Long Term
Quick wins are great. They’re the points you score to win the game. But in order to win, you have to know what the end-game is. Your marketing plan should outline goals and action items to be accomplished over a set period of time. Given our current situation, planning for the next 2-3 months is pragmatic. Once the 2-3 month goals are set, it becomes clearer what actions need to take place on a daily or weekly basis. In other words, instead of deciding the plan every week, let the plan decide what needs to be done that week.
Flexibility is Crucial
The biggest challenge you may face (outside of remembering when to mute/unmute during those long video conferences) is staying on top of the results. Create milestones within your longer-term plan to examine the results. Did you get the number of contacts, likes, link clicks that you anticipated? And be honest with yourself. If the numbers aren’t adding up, then it’s time to pivot again. Never fear! You’ve done it once before and you can do it again – except this time with more data to inform your decision and a finer focus to improve your plan.
This is a very unique time to be in business. The most important thing to remember is that your customers are still out there. You simply need to decide the best way to reach them right now. One thing is for certain, doing nothing isn’t an option. Let’s go!
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