by Kenneth Rudich
A piece of advice you’ll frequently hear about internet marketing from internet marketers is to regularly test new ideas and practices.
What they don’t often say – as if they’re alone – is that this has become a fact of life for all of an organization’s marketing efforts. For many businesses, the internet (and its associated technologies) is just one part of a much bigger and broader marketing strategy.
Discovering how to sustain growth and prosperity in today’s fast-and-fluid environment has made innovation necessary regardless of whom you are or where you happen to sit. It’s now clear we live in a world where lagging behind even a little can seriously undermine competitive advantage.
But despite that new reality, there is one thing that has not changed. Because while it’s true that businesses are constantly being nudged to re-think what they’re doing, the real key to success remains the same as ever: to make changes not for the sake of change, but to change the right things at the right time. In this scenario, successful change combines the ability to resist change with a capacity to nurture it.
Resisting change while nurturing it is another way of saying something should be tested and evaluated before it is either fully embraced or outright rejected. Just as it’s unwise to dive headlong into a pool of water without first checking to see if it’s deep enough, it’s not smart to jump on every marketing bandwagon just because it’s trendy. There’s a business decision to be made, and a balance sheet to be kept. This is at the heart of change management.
a systematic approach to business decision-making
The systematic approach of the scientific method offers a practical example to follow when faced with a decision that could have a significant impact on your business. The only difference is that you’ll be using it to perform a business analysis rather than search for a scientific discovery.
The process outlined below can be fairly inexpensive to perform and more than worthwhile to do.
step #1: initial assessment of marketing problem or challenge
Just as the scientific method starts with a question so does this form of marketing analysis.
- What specific marketing objective, challenge or problem will be addressed? What would be the consequence (or possible benefit) of doing nothing at this time?
- Will addressing it require a budget re-allocation?
- Will it involve ongoing maintenance/attention, or is it a one-time project? If ongoing, how frequently must it be done? If one time, how long should it take to complete it?
- Who will be responsible for undertaking this task or activity?
- What will success look like? Can it be made observable through some form of measurement?
step #2: background research
Once you’ve identified what you want to accomplish, the next step is to investigate potential solutions or answers. How might it be accomplished, what types of resources might be involved, and what types of expertise will be needed? Is there more than one approach for arriving at a solution?
You can use the internet to research relevant information in the initial stage of the inquiry. In addition to conducting product and vendor research, you can perform market research, find related case studies, read customer reviews, or obtain advice from experts.
You can also survey people over the internet, especially if you have a social media platform or business website at your disposal.
Consider developing a spreadsheet that outlines the pros and cons of different alternatives based on your specific business concerns and needs. Also note mistakes – or good ideas – gleaned from other sources. This will help to avoid or replicate them as appropriate.
step #3: construct a hypothesis
A hypothesis is an educated guess about what will work best for your particular business circumstance. If___ (I do this) ____, _____ (in this manner) _____, then____ (this) _____will happen.
It incorporates the objective established in Step 1 with the knowledge gained in Step 2; if possible, it should be measurable.
step #4: test the hypothesis by doing an experiment
Test the proposed solution with an experiment, prototype, or small pilot project. If you’ve developed more than one hypothesis, you can simultaneously test them and compare the results side-by-side.
This is also a good opportunity to adapt, change, or fine-tune the solution before entering into a full-blown launch of it.
step #5: evaluate the outcome and draw conclusions
Assess whether the tested solution achieved the desired objective(s). If yes, then move forward to the next step. If not, determine whether there was a flaw with the experiment or if the problem rests with it being the wrong solution. At this point you can either re-design the experiment and try it again, or seek another solution.
step #6: implementation and documentation
In addition to a full launch implementation, it is a good idea to write down the steps for performing the tasks or procedures associated with it. This documentation can be used to train others and also to make process improvements over time.
As part of this documentation, include a description of how it fits within the bigger scheme of things so employees/clients/etc. can understand why it’s being done or being done that way.
resist change and nurture change
A systematic approach will give you a clearer understanding of what to resist and what to nurture for changing the right things at the right time.