Two approaches to changing your strategy
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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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