I will admit it. I am directionaly challenged. On more than one occasion, I have found myself hopelessly lost. With GPS and GoogleMaps on my iPhone, it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but every now and then I find myself somewhere unexpected. When that happens I have two choices: I can continue to go in the wrong direction, or I can turn around.

I hate backtracking over ground I have already covered, but if I have a specific destination in mind, there is no choice. While it sounds simple in practice, it is often hard to do in real life.

I remember when I worked in corporate America, there were times when the realization would hit that a project we were working on wasn’t as good an idea as we originally thought. Instead of pulling the plug and turning around, usually we kept going, investing more time and money to try to make it work. Sometimes that helped, but most of the time we were simply putting more fuel in the engine to drive faster and further away from where we really wanted to be.

As a business owner, I don’t have that kind of budget. I can’t pour resources on projects that don’t pay off. So I pay  attention to results and have learned to embrace the idea of pulling the plug when something doesn’t work, or doesn’t work any longer.

Sometimes a Marketing Strategy Fades

Over the years, we have had several great marketing ideas that eventually ran out of steam. The Roundpeg Calendar started as a small email once a month with a list of a few of my favorite local events. I got good feedback and new subscriptions to our email list  every month. But the calendar mushroomed and it became a drain on our resources.

Roundpeg Radio had a similar path. We launched it as a bit of summer fun. Every Friday, we would take song requests on Twitter, create a playlist and use Grooveshark to share it on our website. It was a fun, created Twitter conversations, added followers, built our Klout and drove traffic to our website.

In both cases activity peaked and then waned.  We were working hard to keep a dying horse running. When we stopped, there were a few comments, but nowhere near as many as I expected. When we had the courage to let go, we were free to use that time to focus on other things.

Hold Every Marketing Strategy to the Same Standard

Recently, we ran two different programs through that analysis and one came up lacking.

More than a Few Words – We began this weekly radio show when we eliminated Roundpeg Radio. Our podcast is fun, but we have noticed a decline in the Twitter conversation. We were afraid that once again the audience had peaked and waned.

That’s A Wrap – The summary of all the content we share each week was introduced to create strong internal links.  The posts themselves rarely generate significant traffic.

So what did we keep and what did we let go? No matter how we spun, there was no upside to That’s a Wrap. Using the “More on this Topic” plug-in generates a significant number of relevant links as long as we tag new posts correctly. So we  get all the benefit, with none of the work. We  have “wrapped” for the last time.

Taking a closer look, we discovered something interesting about MTFW. There was an audience after the live broadcast.  Popular programs continued to attract listeners weeks and even months after the original broadcast. To increase exposure, we started sharing the link to the live broadcast in our weekly email and promoting the  iTunes link to encourage people to listen to it on the go.

The bottom line: You need to measure, adjust and not be afraid to turn around.  Embrace the experience of killing a program or spinning it in a different direction to find long-term marketing success.