Strategy before tactics is not controversial.
I’d go as far as to say it’s not debatable.
You can’t implement a plan without having a plan.
If you want to be known for something, you must first decide what you want to be known for.
But I get repeatedly asked, “what’s the best way to advertise?” And I seem to leave people disappointed when I say, “strategy must come before tactics.”
What people are hoping is for a trick. A hack. A shortcut. I can’t help you with those. A Google search of “best ways to advertise my business” will land you 737,582,183 pages. Have fun.
The best way to advertise is to begin with a strategy. Let’s define that:
A marketing strategy is made up of Who, What, and How.
- Who are you talking to?
- What do we want to happen?
- How are we going to do it?
Those seemingly easy steps are not simple. Like any strategy, it could take weeks or even months to answer. Let’s dig a bit deeper…
Who are you talking to?
This question is trying to learn who your customer is. You’re trying to identify a market segment. If you’re a roofer, you’re speaking to homeowners. If you’re Tesla, you are speaking to early adopters. Start with a broad group and think about habits, values, and behaviors. You can narrow into demographic data (income, age, gender) as you proceed, but don’t let it distract you.
There’s a difference between who your customer is, and who you want your customer to be.
When working on market segmentation, you also must decide who your customer isn’t.
This is what we are…and we’re not gonna worry if there’s a small percentage of the people that don’t fly us. That’s the definition of a market niche. You have to write off part of the market, or else you don’t have oneHerb Kellaher/CEO, Southwest Airlines
What do we want to happen?
The answer to that is not “buy stuff.” Ultimately, yes, that’s what’s going to happen. But it’s a result of what we want to happen. For example: You have determined you are getting shoppers, but they aren’t turning into buyers. What you want to happen is to enhance a tangible level of consideration.
- Is something wrong with the product?
- Do the internal salespeople require more tools or training?
- Is something causing undo friction in the purchase process?
- Are the features and benefits unclear?
How are we going to do it?
In the example above, let’s say you’ve determined your issue is your internal salespeople. Shoppers are coming to them, but just not becoming customers. How you improve that might be to enhance training sessions and measure it by turning 9 average sales per month into 10.
There’s Something About Strategies
Like any goal setting, your strategy is a measurable and time-based goal. As you stare down 2022, you probably have room in your head for maybe two actual marketing strategies. Each strategy is, by design, going to dovetail in to 4 to 6 tactics.
Did you notice I didn’t mention “advertising?” That’s because I’m talking about Marketing Strategy. The words “marketing” and “advertising” have been blurred together.
Our industry has done a huge disservice to businesses by doing that. Advertising is a surprisingly small part of marketing. Most people with the word “marketer” on their LinkedIn profile are mere salespeople selling advertising.
We need them, but they ain’t Marketers.
They’re talking tactics, not strategy. Politely ask them to leave unless they can help you with your strategy.
(WARNING: They’ll try to sneak past the guard by saying they have a “digital strategy.” Don’t let ‘em fool you. There’s no such thing as a “digital strategy”… there’s only a strategy strategy, and “digital things” might be a part of it).
This is important because you can “tactic” yourself into bankruptcy. As sure as God made little green M&Ms, the tactic hounds will distract you from your strategy…especially if you don’t have one.
So…do you have one?
– Johnny Molson
Wizard of Ads Partner