Changing Your Marketing Plan On The Fly
You’ve put in the work. You read our blog on why marketing without a strategy is like going grocery shopping without a list. You created a well-thought out marketing plan. You built a strategy that details some awesome campaigns.
Despite all the careful planning, things are not going the way you thought they would. Something is throwing a wrench in your processes. What’s a marketer to do??
The reality is, sometimes putting your marketing strategy to work is harder than it seemed on paper. And that’s fine! You just can’t be afraid to make changes. Here are some tips and best practices on what to do when things aren’t going as you planned. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Pivoting your strategy is the next.
A business’s marketing plan should be a bit fluid in order for the marketing team to continually iterate and optimize pieces of the plan. I get it – completely overhauling our own marketing strategy causes unduly stress and anxiety. It’s hard work and time-consuming. Plus, it might not end up working! But sometimes change is necessary, be it to the marketing messaging, channels, or tactics. You don’t always have to go completely back to the drawing board when changing your plan. I’ll dive into a few instances when you’ll need to make some changes and how to deal with them, below.
There’s been an internal change.
Internal change can be disruptive and you can only prepare so much. Things are going to pop up. Businesses change. And your marketing should, too.
For example, what are your tactics for dealing with scope change on a project? How do you account for client change requests? Scope change seems, to me, to be inevitable. We’ve all been on projects when the requirements suddenly change; they’re made with zero consideration to the existing plan and you’re left scrambling to keep up. Scope creep is a risk of the business but it doesn’t have to be completely disruptive. You manage if by identifying goals, reviewing them with the client, and assessing the plan. Be sure you’ve defined the scope of work as much as possible from the get go but allowed room for changes (so the client doesn’t get blindsided when they’re charged more). Define what the project is and what it does not include. Before you make any changes, make sure you fully understand the change and determine the impact it will have.
A scope change often necessitates a change in direction. Look at your current deliverables and see if they are still needed. Then examine the budget, the schedule, and the resources at hang. See what was allocated to those deliverables. Are they still necessary for the new project direction?
Another instance that may trigger the need for revisions to your marketing plan is when your products or services change. If your business offerings shift, then the ways you market them also need to evolve. It could be as drastic as needing to market to a different target audience or as minimal as working in a few new keywords.
Was your company recently restructured? That’s a good time to review your marketing plan. A major change like that can affect numerous aspects of the business, including marketing. Everything from marketing budget, to who drives marketing efforts, to campaign goals might change. Revise your plan as needed to reflect these changes and new direction.
There’s been a change in technology.
There are many internal factors that could affect your marketing plan but there’s also a lot of external influences.
Part of any marketing job is staying up-to-date on current trends and technologies. The digital marketing landscape is always evolving and that means you have to do a lot of restructuring. Perhaps Facebook has changed it’s algorithm. Again. You were a *master* at social media marketing, and getting your message out in front of the right audience. But now? It’s anybody’s game.
First, take a breath. Evaluate the situation! Conduct research and make sure you fully understand the change before rethinking your strategy. Then, redo your SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) based on market research. Finally, adapt. Try a new approach. In the case of Facebook’s new news feed, you would be looking at incorporating more visual content and keeping copy short.
Things aren’t adding up.
Perhaps things aren’t going as hoped, in that the initial stats or ROI calculations from your marketing campaigns aren’t adding up. Your first move is to monitor your results so if you’ve noticed something is off, at least you’re paying attention!
If you’re not on track to hit your milestones, then you need to reassess your goals and tactics. If your strategic marketing is not generating the results you need, a change is needed. But it could be as simple as changing up your call-to-action buttons. My top advice? Always be testing. Simple A/B testing can help you find new ways to improve your marketing efforts.
Tracking and reassessing your strategy is actually something that you should structure in. Tweaks are ok! As I wrote before, marketing plans need to be somewhat fluid.
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The first steps of implementing a new marketing strategy are the hardest. You first must recognize the need. Then you have to start the conversation about an out-of-date plan and develop achievable goals. Be organized, set specific timelines and you’ll find that changing your marketing plan on the fly isn’t a daunting or anxiety-inducing process.
The pace of change won’t slow down anytime soon. Innovative platforms and technologies aren’t going to stop popping up. So your marketing plan must be a living document that you can adapt and evolve.
Resources we think you’ll find helpful: