Your Ideal Recipe for SuccessCongratulations, you finally found it! The perfect marketing formula. You nailed customer engagement. You know where your customers hang out, and how to connect with them. You cracked the code on…Brand positioning that increases value and builds awareness.Advertising that works seamlessly, bringing in a steady stream of leads.Lead nurturing programs to effectively move people from curiosity to action.As a result of your efforts, you know the precise moment when it’s best to turn marketing qualified leads over to Sales, and they’re closing. Revenues are up, and life is good.That’s exciting news, a wonderful accomplishment for any business.It’s the Prefect Formula, Until It Isn’tIn reality, your ideal marketing mix works for just a moment before the benefits begin to fade. Almost as soon as you realize everything is working in harmony, some element drifts out of tune.It could be your social media strategy, or how you follow-up with leads, or even the imagery used in your infographics or website.Inevitably, nothing in marketing is static. Change happens consistently, and you can never “set it and forget it.” The moment you do, you’re left behind.It’s Not (Necessarily) Your FaultOccasionally I meet executives who think their marketing team is falling down on the job. Results were good, but now they’re not. What happened? Is someone slacking off, losing interest, letting things slide?Maybe.More likely, they’re simply struggling to keep up with the changing environment that surrounds your business.Technology, industry trends, buyer attitudes are all constantly shifting. Sometimes the movement is slow, like the creeping of an iceberg over arctic terrain. On different days, a seismic shift occurs and it’s hard to miss.Either way, Marketing must not only respond, but anticipate changes in order to keep the magic in your secret formula. That’s not such an easy task. It takes endless vigilance, regular testing, willingness to try new things.The most effective marketing program are the result of an organization-wide commitment to evolution, evaluation and excellence. Marketing leaders don’t settle for good enough, because they know that today’s “good enough” is tomorrow’s “not so good.”Who’s to BlameI’m not big on pointing fingers. The blame game is rarely productive. What does help is understanding the forces at work to erode the effectiveness of business-critical functions like marketing.If you’ve discovered that your marketing results are deteriorating, it’s possible that your team has become complacent, in which case they need some motivation and inspiration.More likely, in my experience, is that the team at the top (C-suite, that’s you) is sending signals that inhibit experimentation and exploration.The message shows up when things routinely “cost too much” or you insist on knowing the ROI for every individual element of an integrated campaign.Do you attribute conversion to the last touch with a prospect, ignoring everything that leads up to it?Do you downplay the benefits of branding, while assuming an ad placement or your Sales team did all the work?Do you expect positive results from each and every marketing campaign?Effective marketing is all about trial and error. You can’t find what works without also discovering what doesn’t. This means that there will always be waste in marketing.That waste is an investment in learning more about your buyers and their behavior, helping you get closer to the most effective strategies for your business.If you don’t invest, you don’t learn. As you hone in on ever-improving results, the dividends from your investments grows exponentially.Follow the Leader Doesn’t WorkThe ability to absorb and adopt lessons from others can be extremely helpful in leadership, and many executives rely on outside input when it comes to marketing.Unfortunately, you’re in trouble if you simply follow others, assuming:If it works for our competitors, it will work for us.Adhering to “best practices” will always yield good results.Popular tactics that “everyone” is using will help us, too.Marketing excellence doesn’t work that way.tf requires innovation, creativity and leaps of faith. Marketing rewards risk, especially when that risk is tempered with careful analysis. Take the risk, and apply methodical approaches to deciding what works today and what to repeat tomorrow.Diligent analysis shows you when the market is moving. Listening carefully to customers clues you in to changes that enable you to anticipate future needs and get ahead of your competitors.Instead of relying on that elusive “perfect formula” or depending on the lead of others, pave your own road. Cast aside assumptions, experiment, and move quickly to incorporate successes into your marketing plan.Make change and evolution a key component of your strategy, and you’ll enjoy the rewards of accelerated growth.Do you have a story of a risk that paid off big in your marketing? Share it in the comments below.