Correct Course Now

Author: 
Matt Heinz

You know what they say about best-laid plans, right? Even if you started 2017 with specific, measurable goals, what happens when you fall behind? What happens when those best-laid plans meet the battlefield of business? What happens when things don’t always go the way you intended?

Here are 10 things you can do to get back on track.

1. Don’t panic
Just because your plan hasn’t worked yet doesn’t mean it won’t work at all. If you were smart and strategic about building the plan and your priorities in the first place, sometimes the best thing to do is to lean in and keep fighting. Avoid giving up in the dip, push through.

2. Know your numbers
If you feel behind but can’t agree internally about what that means, maybe you didn’t enumerate specific-enough goals to begin with. What are your success metrics and does everyone in the organization agree to them? The fewer numbers you’re looking at, and the more aligned your organization is around them, the more likely everyone (not just you) can and will make the adjustments necessary to get back on track.

3. Prioritize the right numbers
If you’re focused on reducing your cost-per-lead at the expense of driving more of the right leads into the sales pipeline, you might have two problems. One, you’re not hitting your “number.” But two, you’re focused on the wrong number! Pick goals that are as close to the end result you desire as possible. In other words, pursue metrics and outcomes you can buy a beer with.

4. Find the bottlenecks
Audit what’s happened so far and ensure you aren’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Is your entire strategy failing, or are there some isolated problems that will make your entire system hum and produce results again?

5. Audit your customer voice
A common problem across sales and marketing execution is failing to address customer needs, outcomes and pain points. Even organizations with the best of intentions (with established personas, marketing-written sales templates, etc.) can fall back into “look at us” messaging. Take a look at what the sales team is using. Review recently written copy to ensure it’s resonating and more likely to drive authentic engagement and responses.

6. Audit your resources
Were you clear up front about the resources required to succeed? I’m talking about budget, people, technology, cross-department participation, content, etc. If you’re falling behind on the number, now’s a great time to identify required resources and get budget to pursue them.

7. Better align incentives
Goals are one thing, incentives are another. Who’s getting paid to help you hit your number? Who has motivation to partner with you and prioritize the right tasks and outcomes? Oftentimes, head nodding during the planning process doesn’t bear out in practice. Put some juice across resources and departments to fix that.

8. Get agile
Agility around objectives rarely works, but agility around execution and tactics can help you stay nimble, test new ideas and make faster adjustments to get back on track.

9. Review and recalibrate weekly
Once you make some of the above changes, get in the habit of reviewing changes in results on a more frequent basis. This helps you identify quickly if you’re falling further into a hole or if you’re onto something better and need to amplify its impact more quickly.

10. Be patient
If you just launched a new campaign, calling it dead after a couple days or weeks can put you further behind without an alternative. Great work often takes time — time to develop, to launch, and sometimes time for the market to notice and act. Be realistic about not just expected results but timelines to campaign maturity.  

Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger Matt Heinz is president and founder of Heinz Marketing. He has 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries.