In all the turmoil and uncertainty that the early 2020s have brought to the marketing world, at least one lesson rings out loud and clear: Flexibility is critical. Companies that did not adapt their advertising strategy to a post-COVID reality quickly found themselves lagging behind the competition. In contrast, businesses that did adapt gained a stronger market position, increased customer loyalty, and growing revenue streams.
The bottom line is that you must build a measure of flexibility into your future marketing plans if you want them to be successful. With that in mind, let's dig into why and how you should keep your marketing plan flexible.
The Importance of Planning
It's crucial to develop an effective marketing plan. A well-designed plan gives your business structure and enables you to keep your end goals in sight no matter what comes up during the year. Conversely, not having a marketing plan will make your decision-making less consistent and will harm your business efforts with the loss of the impact you gain from having a cohesive advertising strategy (a powerful tool in terms of brand awareness and customer experience).
Planning is vital. Still, the question remains: Should you stick to the plan at all costs?
Why You Should Adjust to Changes
In the days of sail-driven boats, sailors would often perform a maneuver called "tacking." If their desired course was into the wind, they would "tack" or slightly adjust their course again and again in a zigzag pattern so that the vessel could make progress even in an upwind direction.
Similarly, you may know where you want your business to go, but if market conditions or other factors give you resistance, you may need to adjust your course to keep your momentum going. Here is where flexibility comes into the picture. A flexible plan can help you "tack into the wind" and ultimately reach your desired goals.
For example, what if your inventory levels are higher than expected, and you need to move units ASAP? You could adjust your marketing to run a promotion that will encourage a higher purchasing rate. What if a current event has caused many consumers to change their buying habits? Your messaging could lean into their newly acquired behavior and highlight how your business can accommodate their needs.
Whatever the case may be, your willingness to adapt may mean the difference between smashing success and abject failure.
Monitor Your Ongoing Analytics
To effectively plan your strategy and then adjust as needed, it's vital to understand how your current marketing materials perform. Digital analytics play a key role in doing so. You need to continuously monitor your analytics, especially in terms of their correlation to sales, to determine where and how to adjust.
Keeping a close eye on your analytics can help you in at least two ways:
- They can help you better understand who your target audience is. Analyzing user engagement trends and first-party data will indicate which demographics to focus on with upcoming campaigns.
- They can help you to optimize your marketing materials while reducing costs. A/B testing is essential in this regard. For instance, comparing the open rates for two different marketing emails may indicate which subject or format is more appealing to your consumer base.
Of course, an experienced media partner can help you in both aspects mentioned above.
Make Contingency Plans
One of the most significant advantages of planning is the ability to make backup and contingency plans in response to worst-case scenarios. While there's no realistic way to plan for every situation, you should have some protocols in place to prepare for unexpected events, such as a market downturn or increased competition in your sector.
Of course, backup plans aren't just for huge, catastrophic events like the pandemic. For instance, what if you launch a new product, but your marketing campaign doesn't take hold of the public's imagination like you thought it would? In that case, having a backup plan handy can help you to "cut your losses" and direct your marketing efforts towards a new, more effective direction.
Prepare for Potential Changes
In summary, a flexible advertising plan is imperative in today's highly saturated and competitive marketplace. While it takes some effort upfront, building flexibility into your marketing strategy (and then continuously monitoring it) will offer considerable benefits to your company throughout a year and even longer.
If you're not sure how to incorporate flexibility into your planning or lack the resources to do so effectively, consider reaching out to an experienced media partner for help. Their expertise can help your business find lasting success.