When a CEO is running a growing company, the taste of success is intoxicating; we want to keep the growth train fueled by expanding to new marketing approaches. But, when the markets are uncertain, it can be tempting to spread limited resources across a bundle of channels to see what will turn the tide.
The Bad in “Good”
Without a focused strategy, there’s risk in wasting time and money on tactics that make no sense. Or worse, destabilizing a company by trying to do too much, too soon.
I see way too many growing companies with healthy budgets doing just that... too much. They end up not serving anyone’s goal sufficiently. It’s very seductive to want to do everything—because many things are “good.”
But that’s like trying to fit in yoga, cardio, and weight training when you only have an hour a day.
We’re challenged to think through the choices, and that’s okay--we should face those tough decisions. Unfortunately, the pressure has us stuffing buckets of “good” things into a plan, and it’s just hard to say no.
6 Gut-Check Questions to Ask Before You Act
The pain of witnessing ambitious plans spread way too thin over many desired outcomes is all too common. Yes, it’s hard to single out what to focus on, but resources and budgeting are where the rubber meets the proverbial road.
Let’s take a deep breath and consider these questions as we begin planning:
- BEFORE we allocate a penny on paid channels, is the backend--the owned and earned media--in good shape?
- BEFORE we hire in-house or outsourced staff, are we sure they’ll be deployed against the priorities for the business? Will their performance be tied to forecasted ROI as much as possible?
- BEFORE selecting channels to invest in, have we considered--realistically--how long certain strategies take to yield results? For example, awareness and engagement may take longer, and prove more expensive, than a proof-of-concept traffic boost. Which strategy maps best to your annual goals? Often, a slower-build approach is what we need, but anxiety and impatience drive us to fund faster-acting channels... even though the results don’t check the right strategic boxes.
- BEFORE pursuing a set of target audiences, do we know, with some certainty, how likely--and how quickly--each is to deliver the highest revenue value per new customer? How can that help us focus on the most profitable acquisition per marketing dollar?
- BEFORE creating marketing assets and programs, have we weighed long-term thinking with short-term objectives? It’s always a balance, and there are tradeoffs all over the place. Have we identified the absolute most important outcome in a given year?
- BEFORE deciding on a marketing budget, have we layered revenue expectations over time? Typically, a plan is devised, deployed, and dumped into the marketplace all at once. Then, when we hit a road bump we turn the spigot off; pulling back mid-campaign across all channels. What if we created tiers that support a baseline of activity, and overlay incremental spending in flights that can perform holistically in shorter-term spurts as performance permits?
Think, Then Spend
A successful strategy turns away from tactical planning and asks these tough questions. It guides decision making in all parts of the business. It prevents trial-and-error planning, and turns thoughtful testing into knowledge that guides spending.
It’s not easy, but in short, it’s always best to think before we spend.