Documentation and Profitability – Together Forever: Part VIIe.
How do you react when the unexpected happens? Do you panic, shooting off in all directions? Do you freeze like the proverbial deer in the headlights? Or do you take some time to study the situation, consider the alternatives, and then make reasoned moves? Let’s consider the documentation behind each approach.
Suppose you panic when the unexpected happens, and you immediately change your ads, change your media outlets, change your ad frequency, or add new tactics. Big mistake. Do you know if the event will hurt, have no impact, or help your campaign? Do you know if it’ll have an immediate impact or a longer range impact? On what basis are you making changes? More than likely, you’ll waste most, if not all, of the resources you throw at the problem. Why? Because you don’t know if or even how the event affects your market share. And you lack a solid audit trail on the changes you’re making. That increases the likelihood that your hasty reaction will fail. The time spent developing, producing, and installing the changes will be wasted, the money spent on salaries and benefits is gone, money spent on ads is gone, items such as sample products are wasted, and so on. All because someone failed to prepare and use a marketing roadmap that anticipates change. Of course there’s always the chance that you luck out and hit on something that works. Even then you want a comprehensive documentation trail. It’ll help you keep your campaign tuned to your success and will update your road map so you have a better chance of handling future unexpected events.
Now suppose you freeze up. That’s bad if the event damages your market share and good if it’s neutral or increases it. Regardless of the impact, time goes by while the same ads run and you do nothing. Could that be money down the drain? Or did you save a bundle by not reacting? Who knows? That’s where documentation comes in. A good marketing plan would have built-in decision points and procedures to follow. A good marketing plan would include data collecting and reporting and other past performance information that will help you deal with the event. You might luck out and find that the event had no impact on your campaign. Great. Add that information to your database for future reference. But, do you know what effect the event had on your competitors? Have you used that information to adjust your market strategy? If the event helped your campaign, do you know why so you can add it to your bag of tricks? All questions that a good documentation trail could suggest and whose answers you could use.
Last, suppose you study the situation and make reasoned changes. It’s the best option of the three, barring of course the case where the damage is immediate and obvious. If an assessment concludes that the event will damage your campaign in the long run, you’ve given yourself time to develop a fix that will maintain your profitability at its traditional level. If the event has no apparent affect, you’ve taken the time to evaluate the situation and perhaps discovered that the event influenced your competition. And that could lead to an advantage for you. If the event has helped your campaign, you need to understand why so you can continue the success and use the understanding in future campaigns. A welcome side effect of this unexpected success is your need to deal with supplier, manufacturing, shipping, and marketing sustainability documentation. Again, all excellent reasons to maintain a complete and comprehensive documentation trail.
Next week we’ll take a look at a the documentation behind production and what happens when you increase your production rate.