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Stop Doubling Down on Your Failing Strategy — Take Control By Taking These Steps Instead. When a brand's core strategy fails, what's next?

By Adam Horlock Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • Stop thinking that getting better is the immediate answer
  • Be sought after — not the seeker
  • Stay consistent and resilient

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a CEO, founder or entrepreneur, you know how important it is to have an overall strategy for success. This includes brand strategy, key messaging strategy and a go-to-market strategy. But what happens when strategy does not work? What if all of the developed core strategies fail, and your brand is in peril? You must remain resilient and prepared and make adjustments that strengthen the brand value and experience while being known better in the market.

Taking the right next steps after the failed strategy is essential to pivot. What does a successful pivot look like after strategy failure, and what is needed to plan a pivot?

Related: How to Recover From a Failed Strategy

Don't cause any more unnecessary damage

Too often, the immediate reaction to a failed strategy is to throw everything at the problem. What is not anticipated is the unintended consequences caused by aggressive, counterproductive try-everything measures. First, do no harm. It is vital to be thoughtful and measured before allocating resources to an all-out approach after a failed strategy. Utilizing too much time and money to fix the plummet often results in worse repercussions, making it difficult to regain market share. Entrepreneurs, founders and c-suite executives must take caution not to allow too many abrupt changes, as in many cases, doing nothing or simply streamlining would be more prudent than significant, ill-advised change for the sake of change to make anything work.

Stop thinking that getting better is the immediate answer

The first, most immediate thought of getting better is typically not the answer. If the strategy has failed and will continue to fail, doubling down will only increase the problems and could paralyze or destroy the brand. We have all seen strategy failures in the market and remember successful pivots. We all want to improve, but this alone is not a strategy.

The better answer is to be different. Find the points of differentiation that bring value between your brand and competing brands. Stand-alone and illustrate that difference in the market. Do not make the mistake that others already know that difference; pick up the "difference" flag and wave it high and non-stop. The difference needs to project not only confidence but also problem-solving solutions. The brand will need to demonstrate value in those problem-solving solutions repeatedly. In the demonstration, clear messaging of why the difference matters is core and vital.

The best answer is to be disruptive. Being different is a strong position for a pivot from strategy failure to work, but it is not the best to become elite and unmatched. The disruptive pivot must be radically different to disrupt and completely disagree with current industry models. Additionally, it needs to be easily grasped, simplistic in its ability to procure or utilize, and offer so much value that an existing customer base becomes the largest source of new prospects due to referrals and sharing of their experiences.

Why disrupt, and why is this elite? First, competitors are stuck. Competitors cannot follow a successful, thoroughly disruptive pivot by a rival brand, which would contradict their go-to-market strategy and key messaging. It would also likely be confusing and frustrating to their existing customer base, and typically, it is viewed as a copycat without a core brand identity. Additionally, if the core messaging on the pivot is correctly planned, the pivot will take much of the market attention away from competing brands. As a result, a 'me-only' lane is opened up, and attempts to counter or copy will be difficult to launch and hold.

Related: 10 Strategies for Entrepreneurs Dealing With Failure

Be sought after — not the seeker

The most important aspect of a pivot after strategy failure is that it is not the best, but the best known who ultimately wins. If disrupting, make the disruption known, explain why it is needed, and finally, why the ideal customer base benefits. The best-known brand that delivers the best experience always wins.

To be truly sought after, many brands spend too much on research and development, product enhancements, and features and benefits. It is an attempt to sell products and not experiences and relationships. The brands that win usually do not have the best product every time, but they are the best-known and consistently invest in the best-known lane every time.

Stay consistent and resilient

Remain consistent in either difference or disruption. Consistency produces more consistency. In this approach, remain steadfast to offering the best and simplest experience to the market. Stay consistent in becoming and maintaining the best known and resilient through attempts to counter competitive distraction. Do not let a better offering or new product release from competitors steal momentum. Instead, ensure that your brand is always the best known, and then determine what, if any, changes are required from your offerings. Most of the time, changes are unnecessary; if anything, better simplification is the best approach.

Adam Horlock

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Operating Officer, Edit Media Consulting

Adam Horlock is the Chief Operating Officer for Edit Media Consulting. His agency offers PR, social media and business consulting services to brands nationally. He has made numerous media appearances and continues to be a resource for entrepreneurs nationwide.

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