When companies call us for marketing help, they are often looking for assistance with tactical projects. For instance, they want us to build a website, develop an email marketing campaign or help them get started with social media.
Although those tactics can be very beneficial to businesses, what many companies really need is marketing strategy.
Strategy is not just a fancy word. It’s a process that defines your approach to reach your business goals.
Without strategy, it’s easy for businesses get caught up in shiny object syndrome
—chasing the latest marketing trends or switching tactics every week or month. Not only is that an exhausting way to do things, it also means you could be wasting time and money on tactics that will produce little results.
Why Businesses Need Marketing Strategy
Let’s say you own a law firm and you want to build a new website. You could easily build a website that talks about your practice areas and your attorneys.
But, after conducting some research, what if you discovered most of your new business comes from referrals? Would you still invest the money into a new website?
Maybe you would. But, if you have a limited budget, perhaps you would focus on a creating a strategy around building a program to increase referrals instead.
Or, let’s say you do decide to build a new website. But, if you don’t take the time to understand why your clients like doing business with you, how can you build a site that communicates what makes you different than the hundreds of firms you’re competing with?
Do you see why stepping back and determining your strategy is so important?
Building an effective marketing strategy
To develop an effective marketing strategy, you must take the time to answer a lot of questions:
- What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish?
- Who is your target market? Who is your ideal customer?
- What problem are you trying to solve for your target market?
- What do your clients and customers value most about your services?
- How are you different from your competitors? Why should someone choose you?
- What do you want people to think of when your company comes to mind?
- What kind of experience do you want your clients to have?
What happens when tactics trump strategy
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not ready to start implementing tactics. Doing so can cause all sorts of problems:
- Lack of clear and consistent messaging. For marketing to be effective, you must create a consistent brand message that communicates what makes you different and why someone should hire you. Without a strategy in place, it makes it much harder to determine compelling messages that will speak to your ideal customer.
- Difficulty achieving goals. Surprisingly, many businesses don’t have well defined goals. But, even if you DO have specific goals and business objectives, it will be difficult to accomplish them without a strategy. Businesses often see where they want to go, but have trouble connecting the dots on how to get there. It takes research, creativity and strategic thinking to build an effective strategy. But once you do, your likelihood of success is that much greater.
- Wasted budget. If you don’t take time to build a strategy, you could be wasting time and money on the wrong tactics because you’re just guessing about what will work. Taking the time to build a marketing strategy and tactical implementation plan on the front end will ensure your budget is being spent most effectively.
- Unfocused efforts. All of your marketing tactics should flow out of a marketing strategy. It helps guide your decisions and makes it easier to determine where to spend your time. Without it, your efforts will be weak and unfocused. And, it’s a whole lot easier to get caught up in the marketing tactic du jour.
Before jumping into social media, deploying a digital advertising campaign or yes, even designing a new website, take a step back to build a marketing strategy first. I guarantee that doing so will make your efforts a whole lot stronger and far more effective.
Need help with marketing strategy?
As a businesses owner, one of the hardest things to do is pulling back to objectively look at your company and building a strategy that will help you get results. If this is something you need help with, drop us a line. This is what we do every day for businesses just like yours and we would be happy to help.
6 replies on “Why Marketing Strategy Must Come Before Tactics”
Spot on Laura about what happens when tactics come first. And marketing becomes a chaotic, reactive organization where people work twice as hard and get less than half the distance.
Thanks, Frank! You’re right – a reactive approach only leads to chaos. I wish more organizations realized that! I love how you worded it – I might have to steal it! 🙂
So true. I imagine you may have rescued a few clients who went down the bright and shiny path with someone else 😉 I sure have.
Yes, I’ve definitely had a number of clients that have been burned by others. I always hate to see that. Hopefully, this will prevent some folks from going down the wrong path!
Such an important topic! Many owners don’t want to spend the time and budget doing that ground work – the stuff that’s NOT the tip of the iceberg – that’s under water and don’t realize how much it will save them in the long run!
So true, Lisa! It’s way too easy for owners to get sucked into the tactics because it’s more tangible. But, it’s the strategy that lays the groundwork for long term success!