Why you need a marketing strategy

 In Marketing, Marketing strategy

One of my favourite advertising bloggers the Ad Contrarian recently wrote this post about the importance of not losing sight of your strategy when it comes to marketing.

To quote the article:

“One of the disheartening effects of the proliferation of media options has been the ascent of tactics and the decline of strategy.”

Far too many brands are buying into the nonsense of “360° marketing” which is code for trying to be everywhere. 360˚ marketing is not a strategy. It is absence of a strategy. As David Ogilvy said, “The essence of strategy is sacrifice.”

I think he’s spot on. I see so many businesses who try and start their marketing with “I need to be on Twitter” rather than first identifying a strategy and then assessing what the best channels are going to be to implement that strategy.

The way that a lot of agencies are organised only seems to exacerbate this problem: everybody’s banging on about social media so you go to a social media agency and surprise surprise, they sell you a social media plan – unfortunately, in too many cases, without considering whether this is really the best use of your limited marketing resources.

There was an interesting piece on The Guardian website recently by Tom Goodwin which talked about the need to re-think agency structure and stated “Our first mistake has been to create complexity. We’ve arranged ourselves in endless new vertical silos that hamper us when it comes to working more closely and the free flow of ideas, each with our own profit and loss centres, client leads, language and ideas.”

Again, it’s evident almost wherever you look in this industry. Agencies are arranged by specialism and organise themselves into vertical departments across which there is often scarily little collaboration or understanding. How can this possibly be in the best interests of their clients? The reality is that a good marketing strategist is a holistic operator, someone who can see the big picture without being constrained by discipline or channel.

Before you even get to the strategy however, you need to consider your objectives. Obvious, no? If you don’t know why you’re doing something then it’s pretty ridiculous to consider doing it, surely? And yet this seems to be another oft-missed step in the marketing planning process.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to get distracted by what seems like an interesting idea or a piece of new technology but marketing isn’t about latching onto absolutely everything and ‘giving it a go’. Marketing requires focus and consideration and as Ogilvy identified, a big part of the skill is in knowing what not to do. Quite frequently, clients send me opportunities that they have been presented with and ask ‘What should we do for this?’ whereas my first response is always to to consider ‘Should we do this?’

It’s not always easy. I often hear the sentiment ‘I just don’t know where to start with it all’ – but often this is because people are thinking about the tactics before they’ve even considered their objectives. The simplest advice? Start at the start, identify your objectives and remember to return to these whenever you’re making marketing decisions.

Image: DaveLawler

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