[Here’s a simple communications hack for small teams and organizations:]
When times are changing and you’re adjusting on the fly, it’s tempting to send another alert.
The rules at the farmer’s market, the latest schedule for a changing event, the status of a server…
When I was growing up in Buffalo, they used to announce school closings on the radio. Twice an hour, we’d huddle around and listen to an endless list of schools (mine started with a W), wasting everyone’s time and emotional energy.
The problem with alerts is that they don’t scale. They create noise. Every time you poke everyone with a bulletin, you’ve taken attention away with no hope of giving it back.
The alternative is the bulletin board.
Want to know how you did on the exam? Go look at the bulletin board. The grades will be posted when they’re ready.
Want to know the latest situation before you head out? Go look at the bulletin board.
Social media got everyone into the bulletin habit, but we left behind bulletin boards too quickly.
And in our digital world, you don’t need to be a computer programmer to have one. Simply create a shared Google doc. It’s free and it doesn’t crash and it’s low tech. (And yes, there are many alternatives that don’t come from big companies).
Give people the link to view the doc. Include it in your Facebook post or your last email on the topic. “Click here to see the latest updates.” Don’t worry about whether your tweet or post (a bulletin) moves down the screen, because everyone who cares already has the link to your bulletin board and you’ve trained them to check it when they want to know the status of your event or situation. It’s not a great choice for a high-traffic site, but if you’re trying to coordinate a few hundred people, it’s a lot easier than trusting social media.
And you can even share editing privileges with your core team, so there’s no bottleneck for updates. You don’t need to get a programmer out of bed in the middle of the night to update the school closing list. It’s a simple thing to update the bulletin board, to keep making it more up to date and complete as your situation changes.
Information on demand is way more useful than information that demands our attention at moments when we’re not interested.
What brings out the worst?
One more question: Is it possible to adjust your life so that you show up more often in situations that bring out the best? Can you have an agenda, a rider or an itinerary that makes it more likely that the world around you is what you need it to be?
Because if you can’t, there’s one other option: Can you change your posture so that the situations you’re in a lot bring out your best instead of your worst?
Ideal situations are often rare—now more so than ever. But we can redefine ‘ideal situation’ if we choose.
The easiest way to get a contribution, advice or feedback is to present something that’s 90% done.
If you ask too early in the process, if you’re hoping for conceptual insights, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Human nature pushes the inexperienced feedback giver to wait until you’re almost done and then to offer feedback on little things. Tactics, not strategy. Colors, not shapes.
Which means that you either need to teach your team to be strategic professionals, able to give big advice early…
Or create enough room in your (private) internal schedule for redoing the work after someone has ‘tweaked a few things.’
Many brands seem to effortlessly execute and replicate strategies that gain engagement and loyalty, realize search visibility, and improve conversion rates over time. Yet, regardless of how robust their plan is, most businesses will go through a season when they need to implement a pivot in their marketing strategy. Sometimes the shift is monumental, and other times slight tweaks can have a ripple effect across channels.
I define a marketing pivot as an intentional change in strategy: a decision to adopt a new platform or channel, engage a new target audience, or create a different type of content. Knowing both when and how to pivot is necessary to stay nimble, and adapt your marketing approach when necessary.
One of the things I enjoy most about digital marketing is the ability to research, test, and implement opportunities quickly to make an impact on audience engagement. Yet, it’s important to evaluate your strategy, budget, and current approach before getting too excited about shiny new platforms and channel strategies. Pause and take a step back.
Every pivot should have a purpose. If your digital team ventures into a new strategy or platform without an agreement on the “why” behind that change, then it could be difficult to justify the expense, effort, and time. Pinpoint an opportunity or clarify the perceived reasoning behind a known issue before you chart the course for your pivot.
Here are some examples of when it might be time to consider a change to your digital strategy:
If any of these prompts resonate with the state of your strategy and spark excitement about finding a path forward, then keep reading to learn about how to effectively close a gap in your digital marketing approach. And if you know something isn’t working, but you’re not sure where to start, performing a marketing mix analysis or competitive analysis can help uncover traffic sources, users, or content that isn’t performing as well as it should be.
There are three ways I categorize pivots. Each has different motivations, financial support requirements, and expectations of results that can influence the pace and visibility of your plan. Identifying the type of shift you need or want to make as an owner of the strategy, channel, or team can help clarify urgency, timeline, and goals that are foundational for making a pivot in digital strategy. I’ve also included some questions to ask when preparing to address each type of pivot.
I associate these pivots with the “I have to/I need to” language from a marketing team. For example, “I have to improve organic traffic to this section of the site by the end of the year, or we will lose budget.” They are always time- and budget-bound, requiring a thorough plan. These opportunities can have a broad-range impact and carry amplified risk or reward for paving a new path forward. Plan your commitment and communication with leaders wisely by addressing these potential roadblocks early on:
These pivots, usually associated with “I want to” or “I want to learn,” are often driven by innovation and a desire to test from within a team. “I want to expand brand awareness and drive organic traffic with this audience by testing podcast advertising.” Because these changes are driven by a team closer to the day-to-day strategy, there’s usually more data and motivation on hand to support the change or pilot a test to inform directional results. Set your team up for success by asking the following questions:
There are times that tools and advertising platforms are updated and force change. Or, a new feature release encourages further investment in one platform over another. These shifts in advertising methods likely start with a “let’s try this” attitude. For example, “What would happen if we shifted our paid social budget from Facebook to Instagram, and started advertising on Pinterest to increase top-of-funnel awareness about our product?” Consider the following when changing or expanding a platform or tool:
One of the most important steps when making a change in strategy is documenting where you started. Get very clear on your goal and what you, your team, and your stakeholders aim to accomplish. Below is a template to get you started:
Next, set a measurable goal and KPIs you can use to track progress after launching your test and make decisions about how to evaluate performance and budget.
Once you have settled on the goals, it’s time to build your pivot plan. Don’t worry, you can always adjust, but having one in place makes things much less stressful in the midst of testing.
With a documented plan in place, it will be easier to gain buy-in from peers and leaders on making a change in strategy, no matter the size. Now, after all of that prep work, you’re ready to launch your pivot—exciting!
Pivoting is a necessity for survival in some industries, as advertising platforms evolve, and as audiences expect more from brands to which they are loyal. In digital marketing, the tools we use make it easier to test and transform strategies, expand audiences, and run experiments.
My most memorable projects at Portent have been coaching clients and team members through upgrading their digital strategy. But let’s be honest, some pivots do not go as planned, whether due to timing, depth of audience awareness and engagement, or not properly connecting implementation across channels.
Even when KPI progress doesn’t meet expectations, it doesn’t mean that the budget was a waste of time and effort. If you start your pivot plan with a baseline metric and hypothesis, it will be easy to look back and see how far you’ve come (e.g., if brand awareness increased and organic traffic rose by 15%). More importantly, you’ve gained valuable insight about your customers that you can apply to future initiatives, as well as the capabilities of your marketing team, who adapted to a new business approach and can now iterate on the process.
I once worked with a client who asked for a pivot plan with every strategy I recommended. She wanted to know that our team had clear performance metrics top of mind and that we were prepared to quickly make a change when initiatives didn’t proceed as planned. Proactive communication about pivots and their potential impact became a habit after six months of planning and launching a new site and building an audience for her brand.
You might not be recommending frequent digital marketing strategy changes with a rapidly evolving brand or a demanding manager right now. Still, chances are you will in the future. I hope these tips help you confirm or organize a plan for how to execute and communicate your next pivot effectively.
The post How and When to Consider Pivots in Your Digital Marketing Strategy appeared first on Portent.
Here’s what you had to do to go to a conference in Toronto:
Get a passport • Register for the event • Pack • Figure out how to get to the airport on time • Navigate the TSA • Find a hotel • Get to the event • (I left out about a hundred steps).
Here’s what you had to do go to a meeting in your office:
Own a car • Maintain it • Deal with public transport • Risk your life driving to the office • Make sure the dry cleaning was picked up • Navigate evil Bob in reception • (I left out another 100 steps).
And here’s what you have to do to be a positive contribution on a Zoom call.
The difference is that the first two are expensive, complicated and difficult processes that we’re already used to, so they don’t count.
Part of the challenge of a worldwide shift is that all of us have to engage in new effort that we’re not used to. It’s nothing we asked for, and the old effort disappearing doesn’t feel like much of a benefit.
But, if new effort is required, we have the chance to do what we’ve always done, which is figure out what works and to commit to it.
Cognitive biases, we’re not leaving home without them. Well, right now we’re not leaving home, period. It’s just so interesting that there’s an obsession over productivity and time spent on tasks, and yet, so little proportional attention to how what occupies brain waves impacts it. I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered why are there are so many cognitive biases. There must be some reason they survived through the centuries to modern day. And yes, I’m aware this is a rhetorical question, because cognitive biases help us address key needs in our lives: filter and sort information organize data draw…
The times are nothing remotely like that any of us would have predicted just a few months ago. And many of the institutions and jobs we depended on have changed, perhaps for a long time to come. It’s going to be a slog.
And as always, there will be the other side of the slog.
Where will the solutions be found? How do each of us choose to contribute?
Into this void, it’s possible to show up with something new, something you start, something that solves a problem.
One of the most powerful things you can do is build a useful business. An enterprise of value, doing work of substance, filling a need and finding independence.
And to do it without raising money from a bank or waiting in line for a venture capitalist to smile at you is where freedom can be found.
You’re not a bootstrapper because you are thinking small. You’re a bootstrapper because it offers a chance to chart your own course and to serve your customers without conflict.
Innovation almost always comes from individuals who see a chance to make things better. Instead of waiting, they go first.
We’re relaunching The Bootstrapper’s Workshop today. We are connecting entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference, and doing it in a proven format that opens doors and helps you think even bigger. Something that matters for the long haul, not just a week or a month. Follow the link and look for the purple circle to save some money on enrollment. It’s at maximum value today.
I hope you can join us.