As marketers and content strategists, we’re great at creating plans. We know every feature of our buyer personas. We know how to create content that will appear at each step a prospect takes in their journey with us. We know how to plan.
But what happens when something outside our control changes our plans? Are we as confident in our abilities to adapt and adjust our strategies so we can overcome those challenges?
These are questions all marketers are facing this year. Some are excelling at meeting the moment while others are struggling.
The secret to being able to adapt is having resilience built into your strategy. Resilience helps you rise to the occasion and learn so that your team and your company can grow stronger and thrive in the future.
Here, we’ll discuss resilience and the three keys to building resilience into your marketing strategy.
What Is Resilience?
Everyone faces adversity. Our experiences with the challenges, obstacles and stress aren’t something we only face as marketers; they’re part of being human.
The idea behind resilience is the ability to bounce back from these challenges stronger than before. It’s more than surviving; it’s about using your experiences to develop skills and tools to thrive.
The New Yorker published a great article about the secret formula for resilience a few years ago that I regularly come back to. In the article, writer Maria Konnikova explains what researchers and psychologists have learned about resilience through decades of research, including how children use their resilience to thrive as adults.
Researchers found that resilient people share common psychological traits about how they respond to their environments, including:
- Meeting the world on their own terms;
- Feeling autonomous and independent;
- Seeking out new experiences;
- Positive social orientation, which includes “positive self-evaluations of effectiveness in past problem solving, a sense of self-efficacy in facing future conflicts, and identification with prosocial goals;”
- Effectively using whatever skills they had; and
- The belief that they, not their circumstances, affected their achievements.
One interesting point is that researchers found that people can be taught resilience. We aren’t born with it; we can continually learn and refine our resilience. We do so by learning how to make sure that, in the equation of resilience and stressors, we give the skills that make us resilient more weight in our lives than our stressors.
3 Keys to Building a Resilient Strategy
What does this mean for marketers? These lessons offer a framework or a blueprint to follow as we face challenges to our strategies. By incorporating these resilience skills into our own strategies, we’ll be better equipped to address whatever obstacles our teams and companies may face.
To incorporate resilience into your strategy, include these three factors.
1. Be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.
There will always be challenges to executing your strategy. And there may be times, like this year, where so many circumstances outside of your control completely upend or even nullify your original plans. How your team responds is crucial for flexibility and adaptability.
Rather than focusing on what you can’t change, reframe the conversation about what you can do or change. You’ll likely be impacted, but what can you do to ensure the impact won’t inflict serious, long-term harm to your team and company? Talk about the actions you can take so you experience a smaller impact.
- Do we need to rethink our product offerings or positioning in the market?
- How can we help customers asking us to reduce prices, extend payments, offer discounts or move to shorter contract terms?
- Do we need to explore new or different buyers? Channels? Tactics?
- What skills and features do we have that no one else can offer right now?
These conversations will help you create an action plan to meet challenges on your own terms.
2. View mistakes and failures as learning opportunities.
As your marketing team tries new things to learn what works, you’re going to experience some failures. The challenge is to not kick yourself or your teammates while you’re down. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, focus on what you can take away from those experiences and how you can use that knowledge moving forward.
- Should we shift our focus to other channels?
- Do we need to expand our target markets?
- Should we move to different tactics?
- Do we need to focus on different buyers who still have a budget to spend?
This is an opportunity for your team to practice the ideas behind positive social orientation. Find a way to take positive lessons from these situations.
3. Anticipate problems and prepare for them.
The future isn’t set yet, which means you still have time to change things. What can your team do now to anticipate and prepare for those potential challenges?
- Could a SWOT analysis or best-case/worst-case exercise help us refine our plans?
- Which teams or functions should we collaborate with as we prepare?
- Which customers should we speak with so we can learn what’s on their mind and address their concerns?
- What actions can we take now to ensure we’re ready for future demand?
- How can we ensure our social channels, email programs and content subscriptions are helping us build trust with audiences?
Something will challenge our best-laid plans. The key to being a resilient marketing team is to focus on what you can control in the present. By building resilience into your strategy, your team will be ready to face whatever obstacles come your way—and come out stronger than you were before.
Need some more ideas on where to begin? Read 6 Ways Marketers Can Adapt in Times of Uncertainty or 3 Ways to Reassess Your Digital Content Strategy.