Two approaches to changing your strategy

Two approaches to changing your strategy

What are the benefits of using different methods for changing your marketing strategy?

There are two kinds of change, incremental and rapid – often characterised as ‘evolution or revolution’. This is true in planning too.

You can either combine a tried-and-tested approach with something new – incremental innovation – or tear up your old marketing strategy and start from scratch. Both approaches can be either effective or harmful; here are some of the pros and cons of each.

Incremental change

  • This is a lower-risk approach – maintaining some consistency helps to prevent total confusion about aims and methods.
  • The more people who will be affected by the change in strategy, the greater the chance for confusion and mistakes. Incremental change might be a good compromise, as it allows you to take a holistic approach to strategy change while simultaneously controlling risk.
  • A slow evolution is a good way to ensure effective core brand values are preserved, even while you change what doesn’t work.
  • Your marketing strategy should eventually permeate how the entire organisation operates. In particular, it needs to affect the behaviour of anyone that acts as a customer touchpoint or ambassador for your brand. They need to feel included, and an incremental change gives even sceptics time to adjust to the new model by experiencing the benefits.
  • A world in which technological change regularly throws up new threats and opportunities for marketers requires that strategy be changed more often. Depending on your sector, it might need near-constant review. A model of continual incremental change is sustainable over time, whereas a semi-regular decision to start from scratch would be destructive to internal morale. For example, the popularity – and repute among marketers – of the various social media channels is prone to shift, as we have seen with the recent troubles at Twitter. Examining the social media aspects of your strategy regularly might be a good idea. Alternatively, if your organisation creates a lot of offers for customers, it’s important to know whether you’re making the right ones to attract return business – keeping an eye on your strategy around promotions could be a vital part of encouraging customer loyalty.

Starting from scratch

  • If the business is in crisis, a total turnaround in strategy may be exactly what it needs from the marketing department. Bad press, falling market share, low levels of customer interaction or a dangerous new contender in the marketplace sometimes necessitate a radical approach.
  • A strategy revolution, if done quickly and effectively, can actually cause less disruption over time than a drawn-out approach.
  • Rapid changes might be needed to catch up with evolving technology. For example, a dramatically expanded strategy might be needed at an FMCG organisation shifting to omnichannel; or a public sector body might be able to transform how it does business internally for the better, thanks to new enterprise software. Alternatively, if your product is oriented towards a particular generation then strategic shifts are inevitable as one group grows into it and the other grows out of it.
  • If you’re generally happy with your strategy but feel it can still be improved in specific areas, this could be the appropriate choice. If it’s not disruptive enough to warrant a slower process of change, altering your marketing strategy in one segregated area can often be completed quickly as a ‘bite size’ project.
  • A company that hasn’t properly assessed its marketing strategy in years may need a total overhaul. If a five-year plan means that you have just one opportunity to get senior leadership to approve major changes, it’s worth embracing the opportunity.
  • Any change process within an organisation – especially something as all-encompassing as strategy – requires buy-in from a whole variety of stakeholders. A one-off process means you only need to get approval on a single occasion from many of these groups, rather than continually trying to inspire enthusiasm for change.
Rob Coston Reporter CPL
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