Failed Tactics: 5 Questions to ask before Quitting

What do you need to ask yourself before quitting on a failed tactic? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that if a tactic isn’t working, you should stop. In fact, we base our whole outsourced marketing business on the idea that one tactic may not work, and if you hire an agency who is only good at that one tactic, they’re going to keep on telling you that’s the one tactic to do.

Again, don’t mistake me. I am a fan of quitting a tactic and moving on to something else. But today, I’ve got five questions you need to ask yourself before quitting on a tactic.

1.   Was it a poor tactic or poor execution?

Is there a possibility that it was a good tactic that you executed poorly? Often a great idea that’s executed badly can look like it was actually a bad idea; but maybe it wasn’t. So ask yourself first, “Did we execute well?” before moving on.

2.   Was it this tactic or a predecessor?

This second question is a little bit more complicated, and you have to consider if the failure was the fault of the predecessor or this particular tactic. Let’s look at a few examples.

Example 1:

We held an event that had a poor turnout. Obviously, the event is a tactic. But the invitation process is also a tactic. So did the event fail or did the invitation process fail?

Example 2:

You’ve got a direct mail piece going out which is being followed up by telemarketing. The telemarketing failed. But was it the telemarketing or was it the direct mail at fault?

In this situation, you can even keep going back—there’s a possibility you had the wrong list, or it was out of date, or that it went out to the wrong audience. It’s important to find the right reason.

So think carefully – can you truly say this tactic didn’t work, but its predecessor did? If so, that’s a great reason to quit that tactic.

3.   What benefit did we see from this tactic?

Let’s use the example of an event that we proposed earlier. Perhaps we failed to generate leads, but we positioned really clearly. Now, that’s not a reason to keep it because it could be a very poor tactic. But you can still judge it on some of the benefits. If the purpose of the event was to generate demand and it failed, look at the benefits you did enjoy and assess it on the merits of that outcome – even if that outcome is different from the one you intended.

4.   What was the true cost of this tactic?

When considering this question you need to look at not only the external cost, but also the cost of time that’s been used to execute. Think about the true cost when you’re assessing whether this tactic failed or not.

5.   Do we have a better alternative tactic?

If you’ve got a flow lined up and you kill this tactic, you need a replacement for it. That’s not an excuse for hanging onto a failed tactic, but think about whether you have an alternative lined up before getting rid of this one.

So in summary, here are the five questions you should ask before quitting a failed tactic:

I mentioned flow before, and obviously we need to have that mapped out. This shows how we will do everything from finding names, to closing deals, and everything in between. Answering that question is the job of your Funnel Plan and it helps you work out your strategy, velocity, tactics, and supports Sales, Marketing, Finance and Operations to do that together. If you have a Funnel Plan, you know what I mean. If you don’t, go get one at FunnelPlan.com and check out what it’s all about.

I hope you got lots of value out of today’s Funnel Vision Blog. We’ll have a new blog up next month in the same place. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.

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Our thanks, this week to:

  • Jane Tyquin  for blog production
  • John Ang  for video production
  • Hugh Macfarlane  for scripting and presenting this week’s show