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Is Your Marketing ‘Broke’ Enough To Need a Fix?

You’ve no doubt read and watched the ridicule of Twitter’s rebrand to X. Peel back almost every critique, and you’ll find the same classic saying at the juicy center, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

No one can figure out the why behind Twitter’s rebrand because when something works adequately, you should think twice before you change it.

But interestingly, the if-it-ain’t broke-don’t-fix-it advice can be either good or bad. The key to knowing which it is lies in determining the urgency of the fix.

If-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it advice can be good or bad, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Share on X

Fix what’s not broken?

Failing to fix something that isn’t optimal can be bad if it leads to complacency. Making the case for a strategic content operation can fall into this category, as this back-and-forth conversation between the content team and business leader demonstrates:

Team: “We need changes for a more strategic approach to content.”

Leader: “Well, is that really a problem? Is content getting created?”

Team: “Yes, the content is getting created.

Leader: “Is it engaging the audience?”

Team: “Yes, it often does.”

Leader: “So, if we’re creating content and engaging audiences, why do we need to change the entire way we do content? Is the juice really worth the squeeze?”

The conversation concludes, and the next time the topic comes up is after the content has failed to become anything more than a commodity service in the business.

Failing to fix something that’s only slightly broken can lead to complacency, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Share on X

But that perception of urgency can work the other way, too. I recently worked with a B2B company that had an amazing digital magazine. The goal was to differentiate the brand and go-to-market story. The platform enjoyed a large audience and converted a few into subscribers. The marketing team demonstrated value by sending those subscribers a weekly newsletter highlighting other lead-generation content programs, such as events, webinars, etc.

It generated a small number of leads, but their quality was high. These deals usually closed more quickly.

The marketing leader at the company didn’t think the digital magazine was broken, but it was “not the race car that it could be.”

He directed the marketing team to gate all the content, requiring visitors to sign up for a subscription to access it. On paper, it might have looked like a good fix – increase the number of subscribers by forcing more magazine visitors to hand over their contact information to access the content.

You can probably guess what happened next.

The platform failed.

How do you define broke?

In either example, the fix might have been right. Some businesses don’t need to fundamentally overhaul their content strategy to create better and more consistent content to move the business forward. In some situations, a content-gating strategy created a sense of exclusivity and improved the number of conversions to leads.

How can you know when to fix something that is or isn’t broken?

You must define “broken.”

To know when to fix something that is or isn’t broken, you must define broken, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Share on X

I’ve written on the importance of setting shared objectives. These objectives clearly describe and quantify what success looks like. And “more” is not a valid objective. Producing more content, more leads, more opportunities, more revenue, and more ROI – without quantifying the maximum expectation of success – are not effective.

Interestingly, even when you have a quantified goal, it often focuses on the “success” metric but not the “broke” metric. Recently, I watched a marketing team cheer they had met 95% of their lead goal. Does that mean they should change what they’re doing? Probably not. But what number would have triggered a “broke” conclusion? Is it 90% of the goal? 75%?

You shouldn’t just quantify a measure of success; you should detail a broken or failed metric as part of your overall shared objectives. What is the “broken” number if you calculate a win as X number of website visitors? Is it a 10% miss? What about 25%? When does a “close miss” become broken?

For example, we worked with the B2B company in the earlier example to reformulate the strategic objectives for its digital magazine. It established a high-low range for the monthly number of visitors and growth of audience and subscribers. Then, it chose a high-low range for the number of subscribers who converted into leads. Results falling within these ranges meant the existing digital magazine qualified for the status quo – no changes or small tuning as necessary. Anything less than the lowest number in the range triggered the fix-it strategy.

As you assemble your shared objectives for your campaigns, content platforms, channels, or sales efforts, think not just what success looks like but what broken looks like. It will help provide the perspective to decide if it’s broken and in need of a fix.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute