Marketing Plans

How To Fix A Stale Marketing Plan

February 12, 2021 - 10 minutes read - Contributed Posts, Marketing Strategy

It can be difficult to change focus, especially when you truly believe in a strategy or plan. That’s always true for marketing campaigns, even in the face of failure. It’s an even bigger issue with strategies that were developed after hours of long and strenuous research. It can seem like all that work was for nothing.

The reality is that stale marketing plans happen, and more often than anyone would like to admit. One reason for this is that most marketing plans are not evergreen, nor were they designed to be sustained for long periods.

The good news is that, at least in some cases, marketing plans can be adjusted and evolved to continue long-term. There are some elements that you might consider changing or upgrading so that the general campaign can remain in place.

Know When to Wait It Out

While we’re not advocating that you should continue beating a dead horse, which is to say, continue with a failing marketing plan, it’s important to point out that some campaigns are not going to pay off for a while.

If the focus was improving SEO (search engine optimization) performance, for example, you’re not going to see returns for some time. Another example might be if you create an entirely new channel to bring in customers. It’s going to take a while for people to discover, engage with, and acknowledge it.

Understand the difference between campaigns that are going to provide immediate benefits and those that are going to take a longer time. You may need to wait a little longer before you start seeing a return.

Find a Better Audience

Often, a marketing campaign will be created for a generic or wide audience to maximize visibility and potential. While it may seem like a better idea to focus on a larger number of people, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s better to narrow the target and engage with a niche audience or a specific subset.

If you’re not seeing the kind of engagement or support you’d expect, it might be time to take a step back and retarget. Take time to research and discover your true audience and consider some of the minute details that can help improve your marketing.

Maybe you should be targeting younger customers. Maybe the message you created doesn’t resonate with them as well as you hoped. Maybe they’re into video games or streaming content and you can incorporate that into your marketing.

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Change the “Where”

Sometimes, you might have the audience and message right, but the marketing plan is focused on the wrong location or region. For instance, maybe you are targeting older customers but your advertising is located in an area frequented by younger generations.

This is where business maps come into play. You can use them to build marketing territory plans, visualize current or future sales trends, and pinpoint areas to target your core audience or a new audience entirely. You can realign local marketing efforts to match common areas both lived in and frequented by your demographic.

It could be that the marketing plan is stale because you’re targeting the wrong places, as opposed to the wrong people.

Freshen Up the Basics

For long-term marketing efforts, the campaign might have grown stale because of the materials. Maybe it’s time to refresh the visuals and come up with new advertisements, promotions, or representations. Maybe the interactivity is also stale, such as on your website, social pages, or various portals.

Over time, it’s common to see marketing efforts fall out of alignment. They don’t necessarily honor the original message or intent, or the experience itself has changed too much. In any case, the fix is to take action and either freshen up or upgrade the existing content.

This is where campaigns end up on the cutting room floor, but that’s not always necessary. If things seem to be working for the most part, a basic refresh might be in order.

Some experts say the average website should be redesigned every two to three years. If that’s true of something as substantial as a website, why wouldn’t it be true of marketing and promotional content?

Don’t Ignore Offline Channels

So much in today’s world is handled digitally and online that it’s easy to overlook other, equally reliable channels. Offline channels should also be included in marketing efforts, such as live events, community events, local communications, and much more.

Instead of email, for instance, you might consider snail mail or a phone call. Instead of hosting a live virtual event, you might attend a local community experience to hand out pamphlets or samples, or merely talk to potential customers.

You should be combining both online and offline channels to create a modern yet sophisticated campaign.

Find a New Voice

Maybe the voice you’re using is what has gone stale, and not your marketing plan.

For example, we’re now living with a pandemic, which means remote work, general health and wellness, and positive messages are highly desirable. Businesses that are still talking about working in-office with their marketing, or being tone-deaf about the other common concerns, are just not going to hit right with audiences right now.

The chosen voice should not only reflect your message and brand but also what’s happening around you. Sometimes, a marketing plan can come off as brash, inappropriate, out of touch, or even infuriating depending on what’s going on with the rest of the world.

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Improve the Offer’s Value

Every piece of marketing is a means to an end. All advertisements serve to funnel potential customers to a specific action, which should not only provide returns for the business but the customer as well. Maybe the return is a valuable product, a much-needed service, a free gift, or something else.

If sales or interactions are low, it’s likely the return value is not high enough for customers to invest. The concept is simple but overlooked often.

To combat this, you may need to improve the value of the offer. It might mean adding additional free gifts or new options, steep discounts, or even better products in general. It’s possible what they’re getting wasn’t properly chosen for the target audience. Consider the value, and think about enhancing it in one way or another.

Know When to Reboot

Using the tactics explored here can and will improve a stale marketing campaign, in most cases. Some efforts may take longer to show results. With others, you might need to refocus your target audience, change the location of engagements, find a new voice, choose a new channel, freshen up basic elements, or offer more value to customers.

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to save or restore a failing campaign. In that case, it’s critical to understand when you should fold your hand. At times, a reboot is the only thing that can save a marketing effort. But if you’ve tried seemingly everything and there are no improvements or upswings, then it’s time to move on.

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Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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