The concept of “tried and true” in marketing comes with an asterisk*. The fine print says (limited time only, not subject to work for all products and services, and we are not responsible when you throw your entire budget into it and it doesn’t work as expected). Just because you succeeded last quarter with a specific tactic, doesn’t mean you’ll be on the same trajectory for the next one. At today’s speed of change, what got you here, most likely won’t take you much further… at least not for long.
New Market, Same Playbook
Tech moves fast and today’s silver bullet can be tomorrow’s overused, has been approach. Call it the marketing “circle of life.” Once one good idea dies out and stops being effective, there has to be something to take its place? Who or what is going to take over as the go-to growth platform or methodology? Who’s proactively thinking about that for you?
This is especially true in digital marketing where change is not only promised, it’s a way of life. The problem is often that the market for an audience shifts: whether that be a newer platform, in-store technology, advertising reach, or new competitors/disruptors. Sometimes it’s as simple as the rest of the world figured out what you already knew and it’s now (much) more expensive to achieve what you’ve been able to achieve. There are new problems to solve, but you’re still utilizing the same toolbox. If you’ve read our Unleash the Expectations blog, then you’ll know exactly why this is so important, and how it can fundamentally change your business model.
So, when you’ve found the right marketing mix and hit your growth and engagement sweet spot, you know that what you’ve been testing is a proven success. High five, and cheers all around. But what happens down the road when it doesn’t work anymore? More importantly, how do you know that it’s not working? What are the signs?
One warning sign is a significant drop in reach or engagement when the input hasn’t been changed. Facebook’s pay-to-play model is always modifying the rules and its algorithms. For any number of reasons, you’ll find that you can’t get the same results. This is one place where experience and constant learning can pay off. You’ll recognize that the change isn’t just ad fatigue, or market cycles. It’s a proverbial stick in your wheel.
Another example would be using some social listening to see if you’re off target. If your brand or product group used to be talked about and posted all over social media, and now it’s not, then there’s either diminished interest as a whole, or maybe your fans have moved elsewhere.
Of course, if your audience is still talking, but not about you, then you need a new way to reach them, or a new way to tell your story. Instead of breaking out the old toolbox and tweaking till you’re blue in the face; maybe it’s time to get a new set of tools. Because again, what got you here thus far, isn’t moving you any closer to your next goal.
Case in Point
Step inside the Rogue LABS for a moment so we can illustrate further what we’re seeing. You’ll want to pay attention because there is always a test.
One of the most concrete examples we’ve seen of this inevitable scenario is with a client of ours who was relying successfully on Facebook advertising. The Rogue team noticed a marked drop in impressions, which is a signal to any marketer to look for the problem and find a solution. We had our ears to the paid media industry ground and were already expecting to see major changes to the Facebook advertising program. This was the big clue. Ultimately, Facebook was running out of room for ads and something had to give for them to continue attracting advertisers.
While Facebook sorted all that out, changing their ad offerings, increasing prices, etc… we saw the big change we were waiting for and already had alternative plans in place. Something that would give our client the same level of exposure and engagement, without having to drastically change their budget or ad content. In a situation like this, any client could get priced out of what they’re currently doing and be forced to change. Had we not been prepared, there would have been much more time spent on revising, testing, and researching; all while the ad budget and metrics took a hit.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but you also might walk into a pole while you’re looking backward. It won’t matter if you finally figure out the perfect method, only to have the platform pulled out from under you later on. Learn from your decisions, sure, but more importantly, marketers should be looking into the future. Anticipate new platforms and channels, seek out new types of engagement, and add a few more tools to your set. (Rogue has a powerful methodology we use called 80-15-5 to do just that.)
No one can predict the future, but we have some big clues on what’s coming up next. Here’s what’s on the Rogue team’s list: a greater dependence on voice search, how to leverage chat bots, machine learning and AI. Are they on yours?
It’s been said that voice search will comprise half of all searches by 2020. Marketers need to anticipate how these things will affect the customer’s journey and experience, the platforms, and the media space. BEFORE that change happens, you’ll need to have a strategy and tools in place that let you be ready for the 2018-2019 campaigns.
Thinking back to our client’s story, how does a CMO determine what course of action to take when their previous strategy no longer applies? Do you follow your old plan with less money, try new things, or invest more dollars? Business strategy isn’t just an abstract concept, it’s at the heart of every successful business, and it’s what Rogue works on every day. If you don’t know where you stand with your current strategy, or you know it’s time for a new one, maybe it’s time to Go Rogue.