Stumbling Forward to Achieve Success

Change In Plans

Stumbling forward is a good description of the most successful marketing departments I’ve been associated with. Stumbling forward is a can-do attitude more than a process to help overcome problems and surprises.

I hadn’t thought of the stumbling forward concept until I read a recent WSJ article by Ben Casselman that used this phrase to describe the U. S. economy.

  • The article included excellent charts on the number of jobs added in each business cycle during the past 40 years, but that’s not the point of this blog.

Marketers, as well as their companies, have specific objectives that “have” to be met. Preparing to achieve these objectives, every one of my departments had the mandatory process:

  • Analysis
  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Budgets
  • Timetables
  • Measurements
  • Reviews.

Regardless of the thoroughness of our preparation, not a single year went according to plan. (Dealing with surprises is part of what makes marketing both difficult and fun.)

Marketers therefore have to constantly change their plans. While the general concept is to move forward to improve their actions and increase the likelihood of success, the better marketing departments:

  • Move faster and more decisively, and
  • Make larger changes adding/subtracting initiatives.

The best departments are open to making discoveries and achieved successes by chance as well as design.

Let’s be clear: Stumbling forward is a positive. Stumbling forward is going in the right direction. 

About Richard Sellers

Richard is Chairman Emeritus of the Marketing Executives Networking Group, founder of Demand Marketing consulting firm, and former Sr. VP of Marketing for three multi-billion dollar companies: CEC, WLP, and Service Merchandise. His early career was at GE, P&G, Playtex, and Marketing Corporation of America. He’s also a volunteer counselor for SCORE assisting small businesses in upstate New York. You can follow his communications about marketing, job search and careers here and at mengonlineENTREPRENEURS QUESTIONS, and on Twitter at @Sellers_Richard.



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