Using the 80/20 Principle for Your Next Marketing Win

A bit of risk, along with tried-and-true tools, will let you adapt to changes in the market
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If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the importance of being able to respond to unexpected circumstances. Nobody could have predicted the changes we experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The resulting dumpster fire highlighted the importance of being able to adjust quickly to rapid changes in consumer behavior. The right foundational strategy can help position you to be nimble and adapt to these changes going forward.

As an industry, we’re often too nostalgic when it comes to how we do business. We tend to be less accepting and slower to adapt to new marketing tools and strategies — even tools that are established in the mass market consumer space. Marketing automation, paid search campaigns, social media advertising and dynamic ad retargeting are a few examples. We see the value of these tools today, but few would argue we were early adopters.

The this is how we have always done it approach is just as dangerous as chasing everything new and shiny. Effective marketing strategies have to balance the tried-and-true tactics that have worked in the past with new tools, new technology and new techniques.

If 100 percent of your marketing initiatives are focused on tactics that have worked in the past, you are losing opportunities. If all of your efforts are focused on the newest, latest and greatest innovations, you have no safety net to fall back on should your strategy fail.

Consider, instead, implementing an 80/20 approach to your marketing strategies. The goal is to balance risk, effectively utilize what is working now, and increase your ability to adapt to changes in the market or consumer behavior. The 80/20 approach can help you achieve that balance.

What’s Important Now

Allocate 80 percent of your budget and your efforts to the marketing initiatives that have been historically effective and are currently working well. For many marine marketers, this includes field and event marketing (anticipating a return in the second quarter, if all goes well with the coronavirus vaccines), print and traditional media ads, email marketing and digital media campaigns.

Experimentation and Testing

Allocate 20 percent of your time and budget toward innovative growth initiatives and emerging marketing trends. Social media platforms are constantly changing, new ad products are released regularly, and marketing technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Evaluating these opportunities, testing new ideas and being an early adopter can give you a head start on the competition. Approach this 20 percent of your strategy with a modicum of tolerance for failure, but your successes will help prepare you to pivot when the market changes. Move your successes to the win column, and allocate some of that success to exploring what’s next.

We all understand the value of personal relationships, and no amount of technology can replace a good salesperson. However, time spent outside the comfort zone can open the door to new and innovative ways to reach and communicate with your customers. 

Eric Dallin is vice president of marketing innovation for Active Interest Media’s Marine Group, of which Soundings Trade Only is a part.

This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue.

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