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Stay Out of Marketing Panic Mode – How to Get to Plan B

Ken Chen

Ken Chen

January 12, 2012

I meet with many marketing professionals dealing with the stress of managing suddenly unrealistic expectations. For startups, it’s quite common to NOT meet aggressive, unrealistic acquisition goals when a concept first launches. Panic sets in because they would like to “control” the outcome, and be able to ride in on a white horse to make some changes that spark success.

Often, the truth is that your company is fighting forces far greater than what is in its control. The marketplace reality is often one that investors, upper management, and even employees do NOT want to believe. It’s very easy to just point to poor marketing or to say “we got the message wrong.” But, the playing the blame game is very counterproductive. My guess is that this is one of the primary reasons CMOs have such a short life span.

So, how do marketing executives stay out of panic mode?

The first step is to get an outside perspective. Talk to someone with a lot of marketing launch and new product experience to help you see things clearly. The right person can help you accept the reality, unpack the stress and noise around this turbulence, and then systematically devise a Plan B to attack. The right person will ask you fundamental marketing questions such as:

a) Have you gotten quality awareness?

b) How much money will it take to do that?

c) Is your idea/product compelling enough to get purchases?

d) Who is your target market? Have you defined it accurately enough?

e) Are you reaching your target market?

f) What’s happening competitively?

The most successful marketers know how to take a step back and look very critically at their marketing fundamentals. When they don’t have market data, they listen carefully to a smaller group of their customers and prospects, and make in-game adjustments. There are so many successful companies that have started with Plan A and ended up with Plan Z.

It’s not easy to step out of the fray and see the forest from the trees. But, the only way to write a good Plan B is to stop panicking and taking a brave, big step backwards.

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