The other day a client asked whether I thought Facebook Live would be a good way to market her business. She said a colleague told her everyone is doing it. I’m a fan of new things. I enjoy testing innovative ways to reach and motivate customers. But I’m always skeptical when I hear of a tactic that seems to be in search of a strategy.

There are ways to figure out whether an intriguing marketing idea is right for your brand. Always go back to your strategy. Ask yourself how this particular tactic advances your strategic objectives. Which target audience is it meant for? Does it enhance, complement, or replace other tactics in your plan? Is it aligned with the image you’ve established for your brand?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you dismiss new ideas just because they’re different. They’re usually worth investigating. You just need to be thoughtful lest you fall into the trap of chasing shiny objects. Several years ago I arranged to have advertising placed on video screens in high-rise elevators. The reason – it was a perfect fit for calling attention to a downtown university offering evening MBA programs. Would I recommend this for your brand? Not unless I know exactly how it supports your marketing plan.

There are a few good reasons to be discerning in your pursuit of the next great marketing tactic. Let’s start with the assumption that you have finite resources. This means you need to make sure your money and time are being spent effectively.

A few years ago, GEICO hired pilots to tow advertising banners behind their planes.* Remarkably, the ads even appeared in the skies above Anchorage, Alaska. I remember watching wistfully as the planes flew by our office window, dreaming about having a marketing budget huge enough to saturate every available media with money left over for airplane fuel.

For the rest of us, there are practical issues that come from chasing after every well-dressed marketing rabbit. When you become distracted from implementing your marketing strategy, your customers may be confused by what appear to be disjointed messages. Your limited time ends up being taken away from productive marketing efforts. In the worst case, you end up paralyzed altogether because you simply don’t know where to start.

Here are some questions to ask when you run across a tempting new promotional idea:

Is it sustainable? It usually takes time, money, and patience for a new marketing tactic make an impact on customers. If your plan is to “try it and see,” it may be better to study what others in your industry are doing with it rather than being the guinea pig yourself.

Will it reach the right audience? If you’re thinking of adding a communications channel like a new social media platform, be sure you know who’s going to see your messaging. Just like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, you’ve got to steer clear of having your brand showing up in places where there’s no one there to see it.

How will you evaluate success? Every marketing effort is the result of some kind of investment, even if it’s just an investment of your time. Nothing is free. So you want to have a way to know whether it’s working. Keep in mind, that might mean sticking with it for a few months to assess how customers react or whether you see a real uptick in your business.

Do give yourself permission for some strategic experimentation in your marketing. Just make sure it’s part of your plan, not a distraction. For the most part, you’ll do well to carefully plot out your brand strategy and stick to the core of your plan, using data – not whim – to adjust course.

Do you have a lot of good ideas in search of a plan? I can help! I have an affordable consulting package to help you understand your brand and design a communications plan that’s right for your customers.

Copyright 2020, Liz Behlke