When's the right time to update your digital strategy?

Michael Stineman, Executive Vice President, Growth

Michael Stineman

Executive Vice President, Growth

people playing basketball

While it would be easy to offer common platitudes as a digital agency like, “It’s always a good time” or “No time like the present,” the truth of the matter is that there are some key triggers that your company should be able to recognize.

Although some of these may seem obvious to a seasoned digital marketer or senior brand executive, they are often forgotten or missed — or only considered after the fact, when data begins to show a downturn in metrics for engagement, leads, and revenue.

These triggers can be broken down into two categories:

Defensive: triggers that come into focus out of necessity or poor performance

  • Loss of market share or revenue
  • Competitive disadvantage / external pressures
  • Pivot & re-focus of core business lines
  • Out of date / off-brand experience


Offensive: triggers that leverage current circumstances as a springboard and use digital as a business multiplier

  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Product / brand / category expansion
  • Business is booming
  • Weakness in existing or new markets

Start with a quick win

If you have experienced any of the defensive triggers, you know how it feels to try and course correct when your product or business is already falling behind. Budgets are stretched thin, time to market is paramount, and there is no margin for error — a misstep or mistake could be the end for you, your team, or your company.

Moving beyond the obvious challenges in the current environment, there is also the opportunity to “move the needle” and deliver impressive results. The key is to focus on something that you have identified as a core, fixable issue, and then rigorously focus on addressing that one thing. While there may be, and likely are many contributing factors to what has led you to this moment, you won’t be able to fix anything, if you don’t start with the first quick win.

If your primary concern is raising the volume and quality of leads, accept that conversions aren’t going to magically happen. You must look at your full lead funnel, and start to prioritize changes that will make an immediate impact. It could be as easy as starting with your largest drop-out point in the funnel, and smoothing out that interaction. Perhaps you are requiring too much information from prospects too soon in the process because your sales automation team requested it. At the end of the day, while this may be your lead funnel, there are human beings on the other side of that. Put yourself in their shoes, and figure out what would make you happier as a customer and work through the changes necessary to get there.

Once you get the ball rolling, other areas for improvement will often present themselves, and you can be on the road to recovery faster than you may think.

a football strategy draw on a chart

The best defense is a strong offense

This old adage applies not only to sports, but also to your digital strategy. The reason: it is far easier to quantify successful, aggressive behavior than it is to attribute success to defensive strategies. When you are playing defense, you are in responsive mode — playing catch up or trying to claw back losses just to return you to where you were. When you are on the offensive, if you are in a strong financial position, you will have the ability to invest in multiple areas and can track and measure what is working and what’s not. Playing from in front of your competitors — while challenging — is a much more enviable position to be in.

You can’t win them all

A good friend of mine, who is a professional soccer coach, once told me the hardest part of being a coach is that the only thing you are truly evaluated on is your record — your wins and losses. There are no stats for almost winning, or playing a great game, but losing at the last second. The good news for digital marketers is that there are many ways to show that you are good at your job. Trying multiple tactics and strategies and learning what works and what doesn’t all make you a better marketer. If you didn’t have some failures under your belt, you probably wouldn’t be very good at your job.

You can’t win without both offense & defense

At the end of the day, if you have a large dynamic business, you are going to need to be playing offense and defense at the same time. Digital gives you the ability to quickly test, evaluate and decide where to focus your time and resources. The idea of “failing fast” has never been more important as customers’ expectations and behaviors change overnight in today’s digital-driven world.

If you have been successful with a specific tactic or strategy, odds are your competitors are going to notice and start to copy or leap-frog you. If you continue to pursue the status quo, or make only small incremental changes, you can quickly be knocked back into defense mode and find yourself scrambling to get back in the game.

At the end of the day, your situational awareness is what can separate you from your peers. Be prepared with a strong offensive playbook, but don’t forget about playing defense. Focus on defending your existing strengths and constantly probing the market for new areas where you can get a strong hold. Pushing the limits of your business doesn’t come without risk — but only you have the ability to truly cash in on the successes.

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