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Marketing Strategy is Not One-and-Done
Marketing Foundations

Marketing Strategy is Not One-and-Done

It’s completely cliche to say at this point: marketing is always changing. But sometimes stating the obvious is helpful and validating when you’re in the thick of it.

I mean, can you imagine if when the internet really started taking off in the mid-’90s* marketers just said, “Nah, we’re good!” and continued strictly traditional media like print ads, billboards, and TV commercials? 

Or at the height of the pandemic if marketers stayed the course on holding in-person events? 

Or in the past year… if you’ve been able to ignore AI, then kudos to you. Let me buy you a coffee!

All that is to say, any kind of advancement, especially technological, is going to impact audience behavior. And no matter what kind of marketing we do or where we do it, at its core it’s about getting someone ( the audience) to take a step… to change their behavior. So naturally how we do that, our marketing strategy, needs to evolve too.

What is Marketing Strategy?

Before we dive into exploring why and when you should revisit your marketing strategy, let’s define it. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’m big on precision in language.

At CID, we define marketing strategy as the art of planning and directing an approach to winning. Fueled by organized research, insights, and direction, strategy is an objective lens to align your approach to reaching and engaging with your target audience.

Here are a few other ways to look at it:

 

All this is to say: marketing strategy is about understanding customer needs, positioning your products or services, and determining the channels and messaging to connect with consumers.

Need Proof that a Single Strategy Will Not Work Indefinitely?

Let’s briefly consider some real-life examples of brands that failed to adapt to changing customer needs or market conditions. Most of these marketing fails can be connected to the traditional four P’s - Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement.

Nokia: once a huge player in mobile phones, they actually released a smartphone back in 1996 (the first iPhone didn’t come out until 2007). However, they failed to keep pace with Apple and Android.

Blockbuster: staying true to their brick-and-mortar stores for video rental, when they finally paid attention to consumer preference and tried mailing DVDs, it was too late to catch up to Netflix.

Kodak: they held on so tightly to photography film as their core that digital advancements passed them right on by. They filed for bankruptcy in 2012. 


Who’s done it well?

Amazon: it’s hard to remember that Amazon started as an online bookseller. Now there’s hardly a product you can’t find on Amazon.com, and they are also building physical stores, and pushing into other industries, like healthcare.

YouTube: did you know YouTube started as a dating site? The founders intended for people to upload videos of themselves describing their ideal partner. The audience didn’t respond and wanted to upload other kinds of videos. Now, 3.7 million videos are uploaded to YouTube every day and it’s often considered the second-largest search engine (after Google).

Netflix: maybe slightly obvious based on my dig on Blockbuster earlier, but! Netflix didn’t just pivot from DVDs to streaming. It’s also pivoted to original content creation. Netflix and other streaming services are now the leading forces behind the majority of the Emmy nominations every year when this used to be dominated by more traditional networks/broadcasters.

Of course, crafting a strategy is only half the battle. The real magic lies in treating your strategy as a living, breathing document, not a one-time exercise.

At CID, we’ve seen it before. We talk with prospective clients who’ve fallen into a "set-it-and-forget-it" trap. They created a brilliant strategy, launched their campaigns, and then... crickets. Or at least less than expected performance. One way to avoid this trap and remember to revisit your strategy is by building in checkpoints that spur continuous improvement. 

5 Ways to Adopt a Continuous Strategy Improvement Mindset

1. Measure early, measure often. Track key metrics, analyze results regularly, and dig deeper into the "why" behind your data. 

Bonus tip: get yourself a dashboard to make this as easy as possible for you and your team. We use LookerStudio with a lot of our clients but have also used well-built and color-coded spreadsheets. Spend more time on the function vs. the form.

2. Schedule regular strategy reviews. Your cadence will depend on your business, how fast (or slow) your sales cycle is, what kind of seasonality might exist for you, etc. For most B2B businesses, we recommend doing this on a trimester or quarterly basis.

Also, recognize that you will need to prepare for this conversation. Summarize findings from the last quarter and send them to the team ahead of time to make the meeting as effective as possible. Your social media person might have an interesting take on email performance, even if it’s not an area they are responsible for. If you’re the director or team lead, have a hypothesis about where you think you should go, and then discuss and debate as a team. Make sure you leave with at least one thing you can adopt or put into place before the next meeting.

3. Embrace experimentation. This is where your hypothesis comes into play! Consider testing new tactics, channels, and messaging. Even small experiments can yield big results and inform future strategic decisions. Bonus! An example from CID’s own marketing. We started publishing our eNewsletter on LinkedIn in 2023. It goes out just a few days later on that channel and has slightly modified content. But! It garnered us an additional audience and even led to a few marketing-qualified leads.

4. Look outside of yourself. Yes, keep an eye on what’s going on in your industry, what your customer sentiment is, and what your competitors are doing. But also look at adjacent industries for inspiration. For example, if you’re in Financial Services, also keep an eye on what’s happening in FinTech. Share what you find that’s admirable with your team, and talk about it in those strategy review meetings.

5. Foster cross-team collaboration. When was the last time you sat in on a sales call? Or a customer service call? Sometimes networking with other teams in your own company can give you additional perspectives and help you keep your strategy connected to overall business goals.

The Bottom Line

Strategy can’t be thought of as a static blueprint. It should be a living breathing framework that evolves. You’ve got to adapt, refine, and remind yourself that the only constant in marketing and life is change.  

Get help with your evolving marketing strategy from CID's experts. Contact us now.

Heather Vaughn

Heather Vaughn

Executive Director of Marketing

Heather Vaughn is CI Design's Marketing Services Director. Her marketing career has been split with equal time on the agency and client sides, giving her a 360 perspective on marketing, and a keen understanding of how to use all its glorious data effectively.

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