Psychologists tell us that people who make consistent and meaningful goals live happier, more satisfied lives than those who don’t. This is also true in a business sense—ensuring your goals are consistently meaningful to your business is crucial in today’s fast-paced digital world.
Although it sounds counterintuitive, I’d like to emphasize the importance of NOT planning too far in advance, and instead recalibrating and readjusting as you go in order to respond to shifts in the marketplace or business landscape.
Don’t get me wrong; having an annual plan in place is crucial. But it’s traditionally not set up well to respond to changes that arise. It can grow somewhat stale and misaligned. Instead, we need to continually evaluate and respond to the current state of affairs, and do it more frequently than once a year.
A great example of recalibration is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. When the campaign was created, the original construct was to generate awareness by either pouring a bucket of ice water over your head or donating $100. But people started doing both, and the ALS Foundation made a nuanced shift in the middle of the campaign. It updated the language and the concept, and we all know the rest of the story: huge awareness and huge donations. By realigning the campaign in response to what was happening in the marketplace, they maximized both awareness and donations. And now that the campaign has run its course, they’ve recalibrated again, working to leverage this new awareness and cultivate a new generation of repeat donors.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is an extreme example; a more relevant case to professional services organizations might be one where your firm is trying to grow its presence in a particular industry. You might hire professionals with experience in that industry, and push out thought leadership content. You might work with a PR partner to gain exposure in the space, and leverage your website. You’ll send out newsletters and host events. You’ll generate conversations and engagement on social media, and so on.
Now say you measure your campaign results and see that some firms consistently open your newsletter, every time. It’s reasonable to assume these people are interested in your company’s expertise. Does it make sense to keep sending them the same email blast? No! It’s time to recalibrate. You’ve already accomplished your goal of increasing awareness. Now you need to adjust your tactics to drive further consideration of your firm. So you begin to strategically curate articles. Personalize the email blast. Perhaps proactively reach out. Invite them to an event. In other words, shift gears and tailor your marketing to what’s happening.
This change in thinking and process does not always come easily. Here are a few steps that can help guide recalibration:
- First, identify what you want to accomplish and re-prioritize your goals. Determine the tactics for execution. And once you begin to execute, pay close attention to see where those shifts in the landscape occur.
- Make sure that your goals are actionable, measureable and realistic, with time frames built in. I like to plot out a linear chart that shows what I’m working on and what I’m trying to accomplish, so it’s clear to see if your strategies and tactics are succeeding.
- Consider establishing a working team to analyze and evaluate the current landscape and prepare to respond to changes.
One thing’s for sure: there will be changes. Prepare your stakeholders to embrace the fact that the plan could, and in some cases, should change. You may not know what it will look like, or when it will emerge, but being able to recalibrate your marketing in response to change will set your firm up for the greatest success.
Like what you read here? Check out more content from our other presentations from #1NLab14 to glean more insights and best practices for business marketing professionals.