What To Do When Your Marketing Is At A Crossroad

Every business hits stages where they meet what I call an inflection point - a time in their lifecycle when either the market or a set of internal conditions required an organization to make a strategic decision that will take them down one path or another.  This will change the course of the business from that point forward and could require a fundamental restructuring of your plans.  It affects every department in the firm, but it probably hits marketing the most.

In this situation, marketing is generally charged with leading the charge through the new fork in the road, which places a lot of pressure on marketing to get things right.  If you're in this position here are a few tips to help get you through that crossroad:

  • Have a solid understanding of the strategy and where it's leading you - marketing will never be able to be completely effective in this situation unless it begins with the end in mind. The change has to lead somewhere and having a good idea where that somewhere is will help you lay the groundwork for your marketing plans.

  • Look to other companies that went through something similar and see what they did right and wrong - a lot of companies have gone through transformations as business conditions have changed. Some survived and some didn't. Look for case studies for companies like yours that went through a similar transition and learn from their successes and mistakes. Obviously look to the ones in your space first but there is great learning by going degrees of freedom out from your core.

  • Embrace the excitement of the change and use it to fuel your creativity - although change is always scary, the chance to reinvent your company (either in part or in whole) is a rare opportunity, so get your team fired up about what they are doing and push them to think outside the box so that new ideas are created and the best ones get executed.

  • Be honest with senior management about time, impact and budget - most non-marketing executives think that perception and awareness changes happen with a snap of the fingers. Depending on the size of the change and the mountain you are climbing it could take years for all the changes to take effect. In order to avoid being the sacrificial lamb make sure you have what you need to do things in the timing by which leadership wants them. I always used the phrase, "You can have it good, fast or cheap - pick two." You can't have all three, so make sure they know that going in.

  • Look back only when it's relevant - a lot of things will change in your marketing, but in all likelihood the fundamentals of what you do will not. If you have measurement models and solid KPIs you will know what is working and what is not. You will have to adjust depending on the scope of the change, but knowing what has worked will help you move forward. Beyond that keep your eyes on the new strategy, not the old ones as it will only hold you back.

Times of change are both challenging and thrilling.  It causes us to get out of our comfort zone and stretches our skills and strengths.  Let the crossroad meet you as a great opportunity and take the path with vim and vigor and it will take you places you never thought you would be.