We’ve all had days, maybe even weeks, where our best laid plans are ruined by unexpected events. In those moments, we often panic, toss our plans aside and end up in state of reaction and chaos. We see many firms fall into this “panic” mode when marketing programs don’t work as planned. Whether it’s low registration for an event, or receiving no new leads after participation in an expensive sponsorship, these types of marketing setbacks can lessen the resolve of even the savviest marketer. Here are some tips to stay true to your strategy and keep your growth plan moving forward.
Allow for Some Failure When Building Your Plan
Taking your marketing and business development programs to the next level is never easy. This can be difficult for firm leaders to acknowledge, especially when financial and personnel investments are made in marketing. It is important that when you develop your plan, you allow room for some failure. In some cases, you can extend the timeframe or reframe objectives for slower than expected progress. In other cases, you can increase the types of programs that work while phasing out those that don’t. Understanding that most growth plans take at least a year to show ROI will give you the patience and strength to ride out the occasional setbacks.
Learn from Setbacks While Staying True to Your Plan
Just because a particular program or tactic didn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean the entire growth plan is a failure. You most likely spent a lot of time coming up with a strategy for marketing and business development that aligns with your firm’s overall strategy. We recommend adjusting your tactics while staying true to your plan. Conduct a project debrief after each marketing program, whether or not it has been successful. The debrief should include a discussion about what went well, what didn’t work, and what could be done to improve the program. For example, could you have improved social media posts? Expanded your invitation list? Engaged more dynamic topics or speakers? Changed sponsorship levels? There are any number of ways to fine-tune your approach to improve even the most successful programs.
While we stress giving your plan a chance to work, there are times when your program or your plan may need some adjustment. A growth plan should be a living document, with the flexibility to adjust as the market or your firm changes. For example, you may have identified CFOs or controllers as a key audience for a mailing about using independent contractors, but in reality, depending on the industry, HR directors may have been a better target. Another example could be an industry that you thought was growing is actually plateauing, and you would be better off turning your focus to another industry.
When setbacks occur, you can also leverage some of the tools we share for jumping back into your growth plan after busy season or refreshing your growth plan to help you get your growth plan back on track.