Monday, May 2, 2011

Stop. Start. Continue.

I’m going to share a wildly simple, yet amazingly effective, thought with you today. It’s something I’ve seen a number of places over the years, and used with great results. Despite my efforts to find its true origin so I can give proper credit, I haven’t been able to find its verified genesis.

It’s a three step analysis process that goes like this:

STOP ineffective activities
START activities that may be beneficial
CONTINUE activities that are producing benefit

Granted the verbiage following the initial verbs in each case is mine (and I’ve seen a number of variations out there), but the Stop/Start/Continue concept carries through all the variations I’ve seen. Let’s apply this to marketing for a moment.

Too often, we see business owners continuing to invest time and money in marketing activities that are not producing profitable results. Why do we continue with these activities? Stop them, and invest resources elsewhere.

Next, we can’t know what is going to work in our specific situation unless we try new things, so we need to start activities that may be beneficial. Taking this step in test mode will prove beneficial so we don’t misstep on a grand scale and miss our mark. Consistently testing new marketing strategies and tactics is a hallmark of true marketers.

Here’s the one that surprises me often: amid failed marketing campaigns and other activities that have not worked as desired, a business owner will land on an approach that works--something that makes real money--only to abandon it before it runs its course. Isn't that strange how we work so hard to find a silver bullet, then get too busy to use it to its full advantage? If a marketing strategy, vehicle, or other activity is working, continue using it! Tweak it when results begin to fade to see if there is new life in an altered version of it. Don’t walk away from something that is working.

This may sound painfully obvious, but we all do it. We all get busy or distracted and fail to continue the very activity that would continue to bring us the success we’re seeking if we simply kept kicking it along.

Gather your team and take this assessment. What can you STOP doing that will preserve precious resources? What can you START doing that may bring new business or other desired success your way? What are you currently doing that you can CONTINUE doing to meet your goals? Also consider what has worked in the past that might be brought to the forefront once again, this time not to be forgotten about or abandoned prematurely.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope


  1. Thank you for posting information on Stop Start Continue. What you’re describing is how evaluation can benefit an organization. I find it somewhat ironic, though, that when we discussed evaluation several months ago at one of your weekly sessions, it appeared to be a foreign concept to everyone. I remember one person even asking me who invented evaluation, as if it were something I just made up on the fly (which I assure you I did not :).

    I think the misunderstanding and supposed lack of evaluation in daily business activities stem from two ideas:

    (1) Terminology. Many people and organizations conduct evaluations regularly, but the may not know it as evaluation. Terms and phrases such as accountability, performance improvement, and analysis often resonate with organizations depending on their background and work environment. This idea emphasizes the need for both evaluators and organizations to get on the same page with regard to familiar concepts, evaluative problems, and possible solutions.

    (2) Training. There is a tendency in all sectors to do things “the way we’ve always done them”. There is an understandable fear of the unknown, especially when the stakes are high. In terms of evaluation, organizations have reactions ranging from complete avoidance, to minimalism (doing just enough to get by or to get someone off their backs), to a proactive approach that focuses on long-term learning, engagement, and capacity building.

    The latter approach starts with an honest assessment of organizational strengths and areas for improvement – knowing what you know and what you don’t know. It continues with obtaining training in technical and organizational skills, and seeing the short and long-term fruits of that labor.

  2. Thanks for your input, Michelle! I particularly like your point on terminology. After reading your reply, I looked back at my post and noted I referred to this evaluation process as a "thought," "something," and an "analysis;" but never an evaluation.

    Your point on taking "a proactive approach that focuses on long-term learning, engagement, and capacity building" is key. We ALL struggle with this. Sometimes the elephant just looks so big and we don't take time to step back and make our bite-size daily plan to keep moving forward and upward.