Marketing always talks about best practices. Well, I guess most professions do. There are guides, courses, books, graphic image of testing different marketing tacticsconference sessions, blog posts, and more that try and teach you the best practices for everything you do. When is the best time to send an email? How long should a fundraising email be? How should non-profits use Snapchat? How to use Google+ (in case you don’t know, Google finally admitted it was a dud and shut it down)? Anyway, you know what I am talking about.

What you need to ask is, is this the best practice? Maybe it doesn’t fit your organization’s audiences, brand, mission, etc. Or maybe the best practices have changed, because often the best practice is no longer the best practice because everyone thinks it is the best practice. Case in point: you often see the best time to send an email. Well, guess what, if everyone is sending an email at that time, suddenly it isn’t a great time to send an email because you risk getting lost in the shuffle. Suddenly, the best time might be when other organizations aren’t sending emails. Or, times and technology changes? Remember when social networks send out your posts in real time without being filtered through an algorithm. Then it made sense to time your posts, but now, when people see your post is often not when you send it out.

The bottom line is that you can’t assume a best practice is the best practice until you test it. Take time to think about how you can test it well, setup some test, and adjust as necessary. Maybe you will confirm it and maybe you will find a new best practice.

I guess you could say, the consistently true best practice is to test and adjust. Never assume.