I’ll accept ‘to sell more’ as a working title, but at best it’s only an aspiration. There is also a danger that the working title becomes simply a mantra, high in spirit but lacking defined action. Alex Ferguson wanted to win games, but he had detailed plans, a philosophy on how to play and a tactically versatile approach to combat different opponents. Likewise, Steve Jobs, on his return to Apple, didn’t simply want to sell more computers, he wanted to change the way his company did business in a fundamental way that would appeal to his target market… his first ad campaign when he came back set the tenor, it was called ‘think different’ and it was underpinned by his simple belief… the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do. Both these men coupled a ‘business belief’ with clear strategies to achieve, which made the path to implementation far more realisable.
Marketing, in particular, needs a strategy to work against. We like to make plans, we want to create a structure so that we can concentrate on implementation. To offer a particular solution, to a certain segment, with the appropriate message through the chosen channel is a lot easier if we know what we are trying to achieve. A particular campaign might not work as we wished, but with a strategy in place we can adjust and adapt until we hit the right marketing notes.
A strategy gives this framework, parameters that allow us to carefully assess options, trial and test against the goals and make a plan. Without one, it’s rather like drilling for oil in the hope you strike it rich.
Indeed, I would argue the need for a strategy is greater than ever before. Digital marketing is now talking almost one-to-one with customers, through multiple mediums and all times of the day and night. It’s very easy to get lost in a maze of actions where simply doing something is often warranted as being a success.
We have helped numerous companies with their marketing strategies. If there has been one overriding set of features we encounter it is that these companies have a strong sense of what their business offers, believe in what they do and are optimistic of success. They can all talk at length and confidence about what they do. BUT, when it comes to a marketing strategy and in particular digitally marketing one, the conversation dries up. All too often the result is a conservative ‘do what we usually do’ approach or a scatter gun ‘we must try everything’.
In most cases, it is simply a lack of experience and the mind-set someone in marketing has when asked to build a strategy. For us, for example, we want to know about visions, objectives and financial goals. We look carefully at the situation through analysis of the markets, competitors, buyers, routes to market etc. We look at brand propositions and position, we carry out a SWOT analysis and sometimes a PESTLE. In short, we take the core business objective and through knowledge, research and insight, construct a strategy that will identify and pick the target market so we can send a tailored message that has the best chance of working… of increasing profit.
That’s why one business New Year’s resolution for 2017 should be to focus on developing the best marketing strategy in your sector and hope that your competitors just worry about going to the ‘gym’ more often!