As the owner of a marketing agency, I’m constantly getting emails from frustrated business leaders asking for help. They’re discouraged because their marketing isn’t working. But, they also want to know what adjustments they could make to start gaining traction again. We also see this with our own clients—when certain tactics take time to pay off or other strategies don’t produce the results we thought would happen.

Most businesses can’t throw out their entire marketing strategy and start over from scratch. They’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and resources into their long-term plan. And, most of the time, I encourage them NOT to throw the baby out with the bath water. What they need involves finding a way to course-correct and stay on track to meet their goals.

How to Pivot Your Marketing Strategy

So, how do you balance the short-term course corrections without abandoning your long-term strategy and larger objectives? Here are a few principles I’ve seen work really well for our clients at Green Apple:

1. Build short-term adjustments into your long-term plan.

One reason course corrections can be so frustrating is because we don’t plan for them. But, if you’ve been in marketing for more than five minutes, you know things don’t always go according to plan. You can do all the due diligence, and a strategy might still fall flat.

One way to avoid the frustration of course-corrections is to proactively plan for them. Recognize there will be three to four course corrections you must make each year, and build margin into your strategy. Actually include them in part of your annual planning process. When you assume the worst and recognize there will be marketing campaigns that fall flat, you can be more proactive about building in short-term adjustments into your long-term plan.

2. Set aside a portion of your budget for testing new ideas and tactics.

Marketing is always evolving and changing. If you rely on the same strategies year after year, you’ll pay for it down the road. Therefore, it’s important to constantly test new ideas and tactics that help you reach potential customers.

A good rule of thumb is to reserve at least 5-10% of your budget for testing and learning. Whatever number you land on, it’s important to reserve funds for testing marketing tactics that could improve short-term results and provide insights for future campaigns.

3. Make it a priority to constantly measure performance and leverage data in your decision-making.

Creating a data-driven culture where everyone understands the value of data is a crucial aspect of marketing. Constantly measuring the performance of each campaign will help you know when to pivot before it’s too late. As you gather data over time, you should be able to develop a more effective long-term strategy. Ideating around strategy is fun, but measuring results leads to growth. With discipline, you can deliver both.

Bottom line: Long-term planning and short-term course corrections are both essential when it comes to effective marketing. If you are frustrated because your marketing isn’t working, make sure to evaluate which short-term methods can be executed quickly and are proven to have an immediate impact.