I must admit, the first time I heard a fellow marketing expert share her list of marketing “strategies” that she was proudly implementing, I was horrified. It didn’t occur to me that someone who considered herself a “strategist” didn’t know the first thing about strategy. In fact, her list of “strategies” was really a list of tactics that she used to promote and sell her business–43 to be exact.
The truth is that 43 “strategies” being implemented at once is really not strategic at all. In fact, it is really the definition of “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” or “spitting in the wind” or … you get the picture.
The problem with the “Spaghetti Marketing” approach (yes, it is a real term) is that it is hard to quantify what is working and it’s not replicate-able.
Since this experience, I have realized that most people do not understand “strategy”.
According to BusinessDictionary.com, “Strategy” is defined as:
1. A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
2. The art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use.
I personally think there is more to it than just a plan, but here is the definition of “Marketing Strategy” where I think we are getting closer to the point:
An organization’s strategy that combines all of its marketing goals into one comprehensive plan. A good marketing strategy should be drawn from market research and focus on the right product mix in order to achieve the maximum profit potential and sustain the business. The marketing strategy is the foundation of a marketing plan.
Instead of a definition, I prefer a “description” of strategy.
I like to relate the “strategy” of your marketing and your business to a jigsaw puzzle. You have all the pieces that you need to succeed. But if you don’t put the pieces together, in the right way, you won’t ever achieve success (success = the picture you see when the pieces are assembled the right way).
Here is another analogy. Consider your marketing tactics as the needle, thread and fabric (no I am not a sewer, so hopefully this makes sense). You need the vision for what you are creating and the pattern that includes how to cut out the fabric, and the step-by-step directions to create that beautiful dress. Even if you can layout the vision and the steps in your head, it still exists.
So the strategy equates to the completed puzzle or the pattern for the dress. And the tactics are the pieces you need to create the finished product.
In wrapping up this conversation, it reminds me of watching my ex-husband assemble new furniture. He had all the pieces, but always ended up with extra pieces after he was done. While the furniture looked together when he was done (most of the time), inevitably, it would start to wobble and/or come loose after a bit of use.
It just wasn’t sustainable without all the right pieces in the right place.
And your business is not sustainable without the right strategy. And worse, it will probably wipe you out as well.