Like every good marketer, you regularly monitor Key Performance Indicators. When things are going well, you stay the course, confident that your strategy is sound and your action plan is working well. Suddenly, you notice a change in your KPI’s. They’re lagging, so you tweak your media plan and fine tune your promotions, but you’re still not hitting your targets. The next thing you know, your customers defect and you’re being challenged by your sales team and your manager. What warning signs did you miss?

Here are 5 red flags that signal when it’s time to change your strategy:

1. Your results lose momentum.

Growth is not a strategy, it’s an outcome. When growth slows, it can be symptomatic of a deeper problem with your strategy. Dig into the data and apply analytics to understand what specifically is losing traction. Maybe several factors are at play? Be proactive and make some decisions on the best way forward by asking “when” and “where” do we need to change and “how” can we implement the changes? If you don’t, you’re at risk of mediocrity. As Janis Joplin once said, “You are what you settle for.”

2. Your competitor copies you.

Imitation can be flattering or downright annoying, but either way, it means that a brand is not unique or well differentiated. Don’t become a “me too” brand. Repositioning should be a top priority to stop your competitor from beating you at your own game. Explore a new strategic territory and one that isn’t so easily copied, such as customer experience.

3. Your staff are complacent.

Never assume that success will continue. When brands are in second or third place, they try harder. Remember Avis’ “we try harder” campaign, which ran for decades, to knock Hertz out of the lead? When placed in the top spot, teams can become complacent, overconfident and, even worse, arrogant. When you achieve your objectives, revisit your KPI’s and set some “stretch” goals to re-energize your team. Better yet, plan for what’s next and set a new course.

Know when it’s time to pivot and realign your objectives to higher business goals, which may be changing.

4. Your Marketing Budget comes under attack.

Does your manager expect that you can do “more” with “less”? One simple explanation could be that your results have not been effectively communicated. Another more serious reason could be that your manager doesn’t support your plan. Involving stakeholders early in the planning stages is crucial and keep them informed of your progress as your plan unfolds. Know when it’s time to pivot and realign your objectives to higher business goals, which may be changing. Otherwise, marketing’s resources may be redeployed to another project or worse – cut altogether because they’re no longer deemed necessary.

5. Customer Engagement Plummets

A decrease in customer interaction is a sure sign something’s amiss. Whether it’s a drop in followers, a decrease in subscribers or just less engagement than usual — you need to recognize when your brand is out of sync with your customers and get back on track. Whether it’s a strategic error or an operational problem, get to the bottom of it – and fast.

Knowing when your brand is losing touch is the essential first step in determining why — and how to fix it. Once you’ve identified the need to change, you’ll be one step closer to solving a more deeply rooted problem.

Your next challenge will be how you manage the change.

Rational IconThe woman in the image is visibly frustrated, yet she leans in to the problem, ready to face it and find a solution. When we discover that our results are lagging, many of us often choose to go the other way. We let our emotions take over and find ourselves even further away from a solution. When we choose to act with grace, we re-focus, re-adjust and re-energize our strategy.