There are so many tactics available to marketers today it’s easy to lose sight of the most important thing — your strategy. Are the tactics you’re choosing aligned with the goals you’ve set for your company? And, are those goals still appropriate. In other words, is your strategy stale?

How can you tell if your marketing strategy is due for an update? Evaluate it like you would items in your refrigerator:

1. It’s past the expiration date

If your strategy is older than 2-3 years it’s probably time for an update. The pace of change is exponential today so a marketing plan that’s older than 24-36 months probably doesn’t account for new channels of communication that have since emerged. Who could have predicted in 2006 that there would be 500 million tweets sent every day a mere six years later? We recommend revisiting your strategy every 12-18 months to ensure it remains aligned with your core values and overall business strategy while allowing you to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

2. Tastes have changed

If your audience wants fresh and organic but you’ve only stocked processed and packaged, you may be losing ground. Thanks to the 14.3 trillion webpages that are live on the internet, your customers and prospects have virtually endless options as close as the nearest smartphone or tablet. If your strategy doesn’t account for changes in your target audiences’ preferences for methods and modes of communication, they will go elsewhere.

How to determine if your audiences’ takes have changed? Just listen. There’s so much focus on the ability to push messages out via social media that marketers often overlook the opportunity it provides to listen to customers. Like our moms told us, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, and a sound marketing strategy should account for at least as much time listening and it does talking.

3. No shopping list

Think of the last time you went grocery shopping without a list. If you’re like many people, you probably spent more money and ended up with some items that you either didn’t need or already had at home. I know I tend to think “I’d better get some eggs,” only to find I have some that are still quite fresh at home. At the same time, I often find I’ve forgotten to purchase something else that I really did need. The result of these non-strategic shopping trips is wasted money and more effort than was necessary.

The same can be true of a marketing strategy—we get so focused on the tactics (Social! Mobile! Email! SEO!), we lose sight of how it will all work together. The best way to avoid this is to start with your business strategy and then determine the strategic marketing initiatives that will get you there. Once that’s done, then you can determine which tactics and channels will most effectively reach your target customers. Despite the myriad of tools available to us, any one of them is only as good as it’s appropriate deployment.

Another way this issue manifests is through a siloed approach with each area operating according its own parameters and without coordination of message, timing or goals. To make every marketing dollar work at its maximum value it’s critical that all activities are working toward a shared picture of success. Your team will appreciate the clarity and you’ll reap the rewards of their concerted efforts.

4. No nutritional content

As noted in Clark Kokich’s book Do or Die, it’s no longer enough to just turn up the volume—you need to turn up the value. One of the best ways to do this is to integrate a content marketing plan into your strategy. Despite the all-you-can-eat buffet of information available online, customers are starving for knowledge. Every successful organization has a unique knowledge base and point of view. Demonstrating yours through blogs, articles, whitepapers, webinars, events, and a host of other methods can establish you as a thought leader in your field and attract more qualified prospects.

///

If any of the above rings true for your company, it may mean it’s time to take a step back and reassess your marketing strategy. Start with your business goals for the next 4-8 quarters in terms of sales volume and target customers. Then map out the tactics and communications channels that will help to accomplish your objectives. If you find it difficult to “read the label from inside the bottle,” give us a call. We can help bring clarity and alignment around your goals and establish an integrated plan for measurable success.