Before we jump into the importance of strategy – and specifically, the importance of developing strategy before creating tactics – a couple of definitions…
Strategy: Your ‘direction.’ It’s the ‘what’ you will do to achieve your goals.
Tactics: It’s the ‘how’ you will do it.
For example, ‘advertising’ is not a strategy… it’s a tactic that supports the strategy of ‘building awareness.’ One strategy can be supported by multiple tactics… and one tactic can support multiple strategies. Makes sense?
OK, back to the article…
What does your marketing & sales plan look like this year? Social media marketing, no doubt. Some email probably. Maybe an ad or two. Perhaps creating and sharing content?
All good stuff… maybe.
Those tactics will take a lot of your time and some of your money… but are they effective?
Does this sound familiar…
Mary: “Hey Bob… the ad artwork is due to Quirk’s tomorrow. Whaddaya wanna do?”
Bob: “Uhhh… I’m pretty busy today – let’s just run with the same ad we used last time.”
Sadly, that kind of conversation is all too common in our industry… implementing all kinds of marketing and sales activities without giving any real thought to what should be done, how it should be done and if it even aligns with the goals and needs of your firm.
The result of this lack of “thinking”?
- Emails that recipients opt out of
- Social posts that are just random
- Ads that miss the mark
- Content that no one reads
Stop Winging It! Answer these 4 Questions.
So, rather than just makin’ it up as you go… first, put on your thinking cap and start working on your strategic direction by answering these four questions:
- Who are you selling to? Think about Buyer Persona (the ideal buyer for your services – their title, department, key challenges, primary responsibilities, etc.) and Company Persona (the ideal client by size, location, industry, use of research, budget, etc.)
- What are you selling? Think about your products and services (that match the buyers above), prices and pricing schemes, bundling, productizing services, etc.
- What is your Position/Unique Value Proposition/Point(s) of Differentiation/Brand in the marketplace? While each of those items is a little different, essentially, the question you want to answer is, “What do you want prospective to think about your firm when see or hear your firm’s name?” What do you want to be known for?
- What marketing messaging (that resonates with your buyers and supports your positioning) are you taking to the marketplace? Think about word & phrases, images, tone, benefits (not features), problems you solve, etc.
OK, so you’ve settled on a couple of go-to-market strategies. Now what?
Perhaps a simple scenario might help. Let’s assume you’ve decided – based on some past success – to target the financial services industry. Great! Now answer these questions…
- What services are you selling? Those that are popular among financial services marketers and market researchers.
- What conferences do you attend? Those that financial services marketers and market researchers attend.
- What content do you develop? The kind that financial services marketers and market researchers would like and that reinforce your expertise in that marketplace.
- Which LinkedIn groups do you join? Those that financial services marketers and market researchers belong to.
- What’s your marketing & sales messaging?
- Who do your salespeople target?
- In which magazines do you advertise?
I think you know where this is going.
Now that you’ve established your strategy – your direction – you can align your tactics to support that direction. When you’re unsure about your direction or haven’t really taken the time to establish it, your marketing and sales efforts are haphazard and random. You’re just wingin’ it!
Think about strategy and direction like this… suppose you and your family decide to go on vacation to Disneyworld. You load up your beautiful, brand new Mercedes SUV and head off – with no map and no sense of where you’re going. No matter what you do, you’ll likely never get there.
Or… you pile the family into your 4-year-old Chrysler mini-van (60,000 miles, dent in left rear bumper, crack in the windshield)… but you have a GPS and even a detailed map as back-up. You know exactly where you’re going. You will have a great time at Disney.
So, no matter how pretty your ads, have sharp your website, how big your email list, how many LinkedIn groups you belong to or how many calls your salespeople make… if they’re going off in the wrong direction (or have no direction at all), they simply can’t be very successful.
But, even a low-budget marketing & sales program can deliver results when you put strategy before tactics… then implement those tactics to support the strategies.
BONUS: To learn more about thinking strategically, read our newest eBook, Think Before You Act: 6 Unique Ways to Be Strategic about Growing Your Business. Click Here for your free copy.