Unclear which marketing dollars deliver the best results? Unsure how to reach niche markets? Hesitant about how to prioritize horizontal and vertical market spends?
It’s okay. Very few marketers have all the answers. That’s why so many are abandoning tried-and-true tactics such as PR and print media in favor of highly measurable digital strategies. Whereas traditional tactics can only offer data points such as readership, ad equivalency, and exposures, digital strategies allow you to get immediate, measurable feedback on the effectiveness of your message.
But this is not about A/B testing, microtargeting, or market research.
It’s about guts.
I recently met with a longtime, relatively conservative client who is in need of a new strategy, and this is what I said:
You’ve played it safe for a long time.
Your customers are changing.
Your competitors want your customers.
You need to make a change.
The discomfort was evident.
What I said next didn’t help.
The proper customer acquisition strategy for your brand now requires a greater upfront investment that is ideally recouped over the customer’s lifecycle.
We have identified the audiences we believe will be receptive and responsive.
We have projected what we think is a reasonable timeline to produce results.
We are offering no guarantees.
This is always the part that’s scary. After doing the same-old-same-old for a while, results become predictable, familiar, and safe. So, trying a new approach or implementing a new strategy is at least partly a leap of faith. If it’s something that’s never been done before, how will you know for sure if it’s going to work? Well, you won’t, at least not 100 percent. When budgets don’t allow for formal market research, you make the best decisions you can with the information you have, and then you give it a shot. If it doesn’t work or misses the mark, you go back and tweak it or try something else. You won’t always have all the answers, but it’s your experience, your responsiveness, and your adaptability that makes for great marketing. That’s something you can always depend on.
To get over the analysis paralysis and through that next big change, you’ll need to do two things.
- Accept that neither client nor agency will always know what is going to work. Any agency that guarantees a result with 100 percent certainty is suspect. If agencies knew what delivered a positive result 100 percent of the time, they would deliver that result 100 percent of the time. Even clients with deep pockets for market research don’t have all the answers. None do. ‘Nough said.
- Accept that the need to change will always be a need, and what yielded results last year is no guarantee for this year. Conditions change quickly and so does consumer behavior. We can’t predict the future. We make decisions based on what we know today and adapt and respond to what we’ll learn tomorrow.
The worst thing your marketing program can be is frozen. I’ll spare you the “green and growing, ripe and rotting” speech; however, the principle applies. Some clients are fortunate enough to have the resources for predictive analytics, deep market research, and other strategies that yield impressive, accurate, and actionable data upon which they can make strategic and tactical decisions with confidence, but most don’t. If you fall into the second group and you don’t know how to proceed, admitting that you might get some of it wrong but committing to moving forward is the best first step.
If you’d like a little guidance, give us a call. We can help you start finding your way with a free marketing audit. To learn more, contact Gary at 717-823-6939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.