Creating a marketing strategy in the 21st century is a tricky business. Gone are the simplistic days when a marketing team had a limited number of communication channels to choose from. The advent of online marketing, in particular, has introduced a slew of new marketing options for large and small businesses alike, from website optimization to social media, email, and pay per click marketing.
However, the potential diversity of a modern marketing strategy can be a bit of a two-edged sword. The growing complexity of modern marketing schemes can quickly become overwhelming. As your marketing web grows increasingly convoluted, it can become difficult to discover whether or not your strategy is leading to the desired results.
If you feel that your marketing is underperforming, there’s a chance that you may need more than a little tinkering in order to fix it. Here are a few of the major telltale signs that you may need to give your marketing strategy a major overhaul.
You’re Not Measuring (or Maximizing) Your ROI
With so many ways to market your business, it’s easy to stretch your resources too thin. When that happens, you can end up with a broad, ineffective marketing strategy that isn’t actually trying to get anywhere, or even worse, is trying to get to different places at the same time.
In other words, if you aren’t purposefully aiming for a unified goal or objective with your marketing, that’s the first (and biggest) sign that you need to overhaul your approach.
Look for key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can set up as benchmarks of success. This can include everything from the number of new customers acquired to brand awareness rates, return on pay per click (PPC) investments, and the cost for each customer acquisition. The most effective KPIs are:
- Actionable: Can be adapted to improve business performance.
- Directional: Assist in determining the results of improvements.
- Practical: Integrate with existing practices and processes when necessary.
- Quantitative: Can be measured in a concrete form such as data.
Your KPIs will be entirely different even from your competitors because while you may be in the same niche or sector, your organizations are not the same. You certainly may have the same base KPIs:
- The number of new customers.
- Customer lifetime value.
- Cost per customer/acquisition.
- Return on Investment for advertising.
- Attrition rates.
- Social media/brand awareness rates.
However, you are each likely to customize these KPIs in your own way. Your organization may measure new customers on a monthly and quarterly basis. Attrition rates may be monitored continuously, as may social media.
Your Marketing Lacks a Growth Mindset
If you review your current marketing strategy and find that it’s inflexible, non-adaptable, stagnant, or even simply old, that’s a surefire sign that you need to scrap your existing strategy and start over.
Do you work for an organization that “has always done it that way?” This sort of fixed mindset is common in both life and business. Stanford professor Carol Dweck spent decades researching how people’s beliefs about their own character, intelligence, and essentially personality are put together. She found that most people believe that all of this is static and cannot be changed when our personalities are actually incredibly flexible — if we let them be. Hence, the growth mindset.
You can adapt this flexible thinking in your organization by consciously adopting a growth mindset for your marketing efforts. This focuses on maintaining an attitude of continual learning amongst your marketing team. It also enables you to always be looking for ways to improve and upgrade your marketing strategy so that it doesn’t languish in the future. You don’t have to market your products and services via a certain medium just because it “has always been done that way.”
Your Marketing Is Disorganized
If you take a look at your marketing strategy and find that you don’t clearly understand what it consists of, that is yet another red flag that something is wrong. Organization is a critical factor of an effective marketing strategy. Goals, KPIs, content creation, and methods to measure results must all be clearly defined. If you find that your marketing strategy is disheveled, you can:
- Address channels of communication within your team to ensure that everyone stays on the same page.
- Ensure team members’ skills and abilities are being properly used in order to maximize ROI of human capital.
- Reduce any wasted time or effort — such as using a social media platform that isn’t delivering results.
- Create a clearly defined marketing calendar that outlines what and when everything is to take place.
If you can reorganize, it can help to turn an ineffective marketing strategy into a highly productive one — often with few other changes required.
You’re Treating All Marketing the Same
If you’ve put your digital and traditional marketing strategies into the same category, it’s time to walk things back a bit. Digital marketing is far too complex to simply be lumped in with other marketing efforts at this point. Online promotional efforts include:
- Pay per click advertising (PPC).
- Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO).
- Email marketing.
- Social marketing.
- Content marketing — which is involved with but distinctly different from the other items on this list.
And that covers just the primary digital marketing channels.
One of the simplest ways to improve the effectiveness of a deteriorating marketing strategy is to separate your digital and traditional marketing efforts. This doesn’t mean you need to make them exclusive — you can still use a trade show to promote your website, for instance — but by all means, allocate resources and implement specific tactics in each one separately.
You Have All of Your Eggs in One Basket
If you’re using one or two marketing channels for your primary marketing efforts, you may want to consider giving your strategy a once over. By putting all of your “marketing eggs in one basket,” so to speak, you’re setting yourself up for serious trouble if anything goes wrong in the future.
A healthy marketing strategy should be diversified between complementing marketing channels that all work together to promote your company. Look for ways to rework your existing strategy to cover all of your bases by using things like email, content, and even podcasts to reach your audience in a variety of different ways.
On the other hand, if you’re putting all your eggs in all the baskets, you’re doing your marketing strategy just as much of a disservice as putting all your eggs in one basket. Multichannel and omnichannel marketing are great strategies, but they don’t work for every organization.
Omnichannel marketing is the all eggs in all the baskets approach — it involves consistent marketing across all channels and all devices in order to reach all customers. Multichannel marketing focuses on strategizing each channel used in silos — audiences, KPIs, and messaging. This latter strategy works well if you market to multiple demographics. You won’t find a lot of millennials on Facebook anymore, but they’re on Instagram and TikTok, and marketing on each of these is different.
You’re Not Engaging with Customers
The primary goal of marketing is to reach a potential customer, get them to interact with your business, and ultimately convert their engagement into a sale. With that said, if you aren’t seeing engagement from potential customers, that’s a telltale sign that your marketing isn’t speaking to your audience.
If this is the case, you may want to go over your current strategy and ensure that it’s optimized for your audience. Start by creating a buyer persona that accurately represents your target market. Then use it to explore ways that you can encourage your customer base to engage with your brand, such as asking questions on Facebook or sharing relevant resources and blog posts with your email list.
How do you respond to complaints? This, too, is customer engagement, and if it’s done well, it can turn a negative experience into a conversion. Hubspot recommends taking time to mentally process the complaint before responding to it. In other words, don’t answer in anger. And don’t answer until you’ve done two other things:
- At the very least identified the issue.
- Determined how you’re going to fix it.
While customer complaints are often technically a service issue, the resolution of them becomes marketing. If you do it well, your customers are going to tell their friends and family. If you don’t do it well, your former customers are likely going to tell a lot more people besides their friends and family.
Overhauling Your Marketing Strategy
Overhauling a marketing strategy is a big deal. You aren’t simply making a quick fix or a minor alteration. It involves going over your existing strategy from top to bottom in order to identify errors and inefficiencies and then fix them. At times it even requires major “marketing surgery,” such as separating your digital and traditional marketing.
While it may require work and patience, though, if it’s required, overhauling your marketing is well worth the effort. It ensures that you maintain a flexible, adaptable growth mindset that can grow with your business, your industry, and technology as all three change over time.