Strategy always comes first

Strategy always comes first

Sometimes when discussing options to promote a business, owners and high level staff can get caught up in the details of what they can do. Either they can’t think of creative concepts, and spend time sulking about that, or they are very quick to bring up all the things they can do to promote their business, as if the this new flurry of ideas will save the company.

For example they can:

  • Print flyers, brochures, and business cards
  • Create email campaigns
  • Post on social Media
  • Create videos
  • Put my ad on a billboard or bus bench
  • Distribute Door Hangers
  • Advertise online
  • Team up with other companies
  • Put their ads on billboards
  • Run a contest
  • Create a referral program
  • Run a sale
  • Etcetera
  • Etcetera
  • Etcetera

These are all just tactics. Just instruments and tools to achieve something. It’s kind of like saying you want to build a chair. And you think you’ll make the chair simply by acquiring wood, hammer and nails. That’s not enough.  What kind of chair is this? Is it minimalistic? Is it a throne? What dimensions should the materials be?

The problem here is that following these ideas, or executing random tactics is usually akin to throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Whether something was successful or if it was not, either way, they will likely have a hard time pinpointing why!

Anyone who spends time trying it this way will spend their time in a cycle of desperate attempts at trying new things, only to see marginal success and then have to go back to the drawing board.

This is not sustainable.

When diving into marketing it is very easy to get distracted by the latest shiny new object, or the temptation to try something someone else is doing. But it is not until you have defined your strategy that the operation can truly be advanced.

So, what is a strategy? According to Forbes, A strategy is a framework for making decisions about how you will play the game of business. Without a strategic framework, everyone and everything is free to go in all directions. Decisions are disjointed. Results are interpreted differently. The vision is unfocused. Good intentions can become unfortunate tragedies. Many efforts are wasted. Confusion ensues. Morale is lowered. Motivation becomes  scattershot.Time and money are squandered. You get the idea.

On the flip side defining your strategy helps you:

  • Guide your focus in the right direction
  • Intelligently select the appropriate tactics for your circumstance
  • Organize your approach, maybe even split into different phases
  • Prioritize your activities
  • Sequence and time your selected tactics
  • Solidify the reasoning behind your decisions
  • Communicate your approach better
  • Define what success looks like, and give purpose to your analytics

If this is so important and consequential, why do so many people skip this step?
Well, the process of strategizing is a high level activity that wont immediately move the needle. Most people want to skip right to the part that they feel will produce results. It’s also an activity that requires slow, methodical thinking. It’s a change of pace from the “get results quick” world of business.

That doesn’t make it any less important. If you’ve been on the hamster wheel trying different tactics instead of strategizing first, maybe its time to take a step back and do the foundational work. Until you have a strategy, everything else is just aimless practice.

If you’re interested in the bigger picture be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to digital marketing.

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