Course Corrections: Seven Reasons to Change Your Marketing Plan

Like classic investment strategies, marketing plans are designed for long-term growth, not short-term returns. Thus, savvy marketing professionals will counsel their colleagues and clients not to change direction too easily or frequently when it comes to their marketing plans or brand positioning. However, most organizations will occasionally experience extenuating circumstances; “stormy seas” so significant that they dictate a minor course correction, if not a major change in heading. Below are seven scenarios that may warrant such change:

  1. Underperformance: All plans should be evaluated at least quarterly to make sure small- and large-scale marketing objectives are being met. These may include media- or tactic-specific metrics (such as web traffic, click-thru or impressions) or broader gauges, such as customers, sales volume or profitability. While the latter could dictate a shift in media emphasis or tactics, the former could mean larger-scale plan shifts.
  2. Shifts in Sales: Even the most sophisticated planning and forecasting models occasionally underestimate the demand for a product. This usually indicates a market need, which will likely be filled soon enough by competitors if the company doesn’t recognize it and respond quickly enough. These happy surprises will likely demand a shift in strategy, with increased emphasis on the “hot” product, if only for a limited time.
  3. Shifts in the Market: Correspondingly, unforeseen shifts in a product’s category, distribution channels or its competitive set may dictate a shift in priorities, if not overall strategy. New challenges will require new solutions.
  4. New Technologies: Potentially disruptive technologies are being developed all the time. Whether they are potentially helpful (such as new social media channels or digital marketing tools) or potentially harmful (improvements in competitors’ products or services), they may dictate shifts in marketing strategy.
  5. Disaster Recovery: Disasters can come in many forms, from catastrophic weather events and economic collapses to product recalls or executive scandals. All of them can derail a company’s best-laid plans, and may require extensive revisions of its marketing plans.
  6. Product Changes: Significant shifts in a company’s products or services may also dictate a change in marketing strategy. As the organization’s offerings change, their target markets may change with them – which means different media, different messaging…different everything.
  7. Company Restructuring: When a company gets bought out, reorganizes or otherwise undergoes a major restructuring its marketing plans will almost always change. Company restructuring, will likely affect the marketing budget and marketing department, if not the ad campaign. And that may be just the tip of the iceberg – it could change overall sales / marketing goals and success metrics, as well.