Marketing Involves Calculated Risk
We mentioned in our Marketing Metrics blog how marketers have hundreds of thousands of channels, initiatives and projects to consider when moving a company forward. Facebook Ads, SEO efforts, mailers, postcards, email newsletters, and social media engagement are only the tip of the iceberg before you even begin to consider billboards, commercials, and branding efforts.
The potential is limitless, but just as everyone doesn’t have the same business goals, not every company has the same time, budget, or talent to try new initiatives. Your marketing might be in a rut, or it could be going well, but odds are you’re missing out on potential leads. You need to innovate and try new things in marketing if you want to connect with previously unreached groups…but how do you decide on what marketing to try? The answer might be one you learned in grade school.
Run the Elementary Experiment
There are some great things we learned in elementary school science class that translate well to marketing. Hang with me here and think back to the coolest science experiment you remember doing. Regardless of whether that experiment was an exploding volcano, the creation of a closed ecosystem, or something to do with physics, your teacher probably started by recapping the fundamentals of the scientific method. Those steps looked something like this:
3. Form a Hypothesis
6. Present your findings
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you probably didn’t go into a scientific field. The steps of the scientific method, however, are useful when applied to marketing efforts. Consider this edited version of the list above:
1. Ask the Question and Do Your Research
Asking questions seems simple, but if your efforts are going well you might not think to ask “What could we do better?” “How can we reach more people?” or “What might not be working?” Business is all about growth. You should periodically take a look at your marketing, review what is or isn’t working, then start thinking about what could work when targeting your specific audience.
Ask your sales team for feedback on your audience and use their expertise to target new lead opportunities. Research what your competitors are doing and what seems to be working for them. Read into what marketing experts are saying about your industry and its potential. As you research, consider what options for growth or experimentation may exist for your marketing team.
Caveat: It’s important to be aware of our own confirmation biases. It’s easy to look up stats that validate what you think and feel…but are those stats relevant to your audience and your organization? If your audience doesn’t find it valid, then it’s of no use to you.
2. Form your Hypothesis
Let’s be honest: this is the most creative part of this process. It’s coming up with a different idea and then setting into motion a plan to see if that idea works. Your hypothesis, however, should NOT be a shot in the dark. Risk is a natural part of playing the game of business…but simply firing a shot into the dark with your marketing budget is an easy way to see no returns.
Instead, use the research you’ve done along with your company’s historical data to see what has or hasn’t succeeded in the past. The more research you have and the more data you can review, the more likely you are to guess correctly. Decide what new channel you want to try, what technique you want to use, or what message you want to focus on and move forward.
Experimentation — the process of taking your hypothesis and executing on it. Enact the plan you created during your hypothesis phase and gather your data to consider if your initiative worked.
4. Analyze, Report and Find a New Hypothesis
When you’ve finished the campaign or exhausted the initiatives, consider what worked and what didn’t. Was your question a good question? Was your hypothesis a solid hypothesis? Be critical and honest about your experiment.
If the experiment was a total fail…own it. We grow from our successes and our failures. A failed initiative tells you something about your audience and their interests just as a success tells you something as well!
Most importantly of all, as you consider the experiment in review, use your findings to propose a new hypothesis and push forward again.
Bonus Tip: The Importance of Perseverance
It’s important to remember that experimentation drives your organization forward by challenging marketing and sales to connect with new, unreached leads.
Because of this, it is vital to keep pushing in your marketing. Be bold and take on a new channel…or experiment with your existing marketing efforts by changing colors and post times or by publishing an extra newsletter. It’s helpful to remember that experimenting in marketing doesn’t have to be costly — little changes can pay large dividends.
A successful experiment can level up your marketing and give you a whole new repertoire of marketing efforts that work. Change, while a little scary, creates new growth. To keep our businesses healthy we must continue to guess, test, analyze, and adapt our messaging to reach more people, drive more traffic, and generate more leads for sales.