Why bother with a marketing strategy?

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However, you’ve done well until now, and never with a marketing strategy in place, because you know your business and your customers.

You’re a shoot-from-the-hip, execute-while-hot, qualified-by-experience (or MBA) exec. If you don’t have a problem, you don’t need a strategy, nor do you need to change anything.

But if new entrants are nibbling away at your lunch, if your previously engaged audiences are wandering off in the wrong direction, if your growth figures weren’t quite what your board was expecting, or if you can see some new widget coming down the pipeline and you have no idea how your business is going to handle it, let’s face it: You have a problem.

So, what is and what isn’t a strategy in the marketing context? 

“The vast majority of strategic plans are simply budgets with lots of explanatory words attached,” says the genius strategist Roger Martin in the Harvard Business Review.

What strategy is then is a set of clearly defined choices, outlining:

who we are talking to
how we are talking to them
where we are talking to them, and
what we are talking to them about.

These choices are framed within a set of pre-determined objectives. The less simplistic approach is when we introduce the set of ‘whys’:
Why this group of people?
Why would they care about what we have to say?
Why are they battling, striving, or feeling inspired, and in what way are we going to contribute to their solution, upliftment, or goal attainment?
Why would they choose us and not our competitors?

The key is that it’s the judgement call, based on hours (and more hours) of research, that says: “We’re doing this, and we’re not doing that because this gives us the best chance of getting to where we’re aiming.”

Restrictions are where the magic happens. Yes, strategy is restrictive; it holds you back with its theoretical, conceptual and possibly inconvenient observations, insights and recommendations. It’s going to restrict where you play and how you engage. Or at least, it will if it’s any…


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