The marketing department in any organization has never been regarded as the most strategic or methodical piece of a company. With that being said, certified digital marketing expert is now a term that is thrown around like a badge of expertise by many who have little experience or formal training in the science that is branding and marketing – or the sales process.
Successful marketing takes both discipline (strategy – a written plan) and execution (tactics – the people and the tools).
“What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.” ~ William E. Rothschild, Strategies Unlimited LLC
Having a well founded strategy is necessary to win the battle for your customer’s attention, and win the war. Strategy and tactics must go hand in hand in order for a business to achieve a measure of true momentum, but an effective strategy must be in place before any set of tactics make sense. Choosing your marketing tactics without a well defined marketing strategy is bad marketing. Creating or modifying a brand without supporting data is even worse!
One rant is constantly repeated right here at Viral Solutions, within our team meetings as well as in our published content.
Marketing strategy must supercede marketing tactics. Marketing strategy does not need to be complicated. Marketing tactics without marketing strategy is the noise before defeat!
Successful marketing takes both discipline and execution.
“If you can’t describe your strategy in twenty minutes, simply and in plain language, you haven’t got a plan. ‘But,’ people may say, ‘I’ve got a complex strategy. It can’t be reduced to a page.’ That’s nonsense. That’s not a complex strategy. It’s a complex thought about the strategy.” ~ Larry Bossidy, Retired CEO of AlliedSignal
What is the difference between marketing strategy and marketing tactics?
We get asked this all the time. Mostly because it comes out of our mouths and off our fingers 24/7. To understand the point of this article we must define the difference between strategy and tactics.
Marketing strategy is the gameplan we use to win in the marketplace, it is our playbook for the playing field, it is how we size up and identify our competition and quantify our niche.
Marketing tactics are how we deliver and execute on our strategy to maximize and optimize our opportunity. Marketing tactics are the tools, widgets, gadgets and methods by which we reach our customer. Strategy tells us which tactics to use. Tactics are how we implement our strategy.
“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” ~ Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric
Your marketing strategy needs to be clear explanation of who needs you, why they need you, how you’re going to get there, NOT where or what you will utilize to do so. To become the best at what you do is not marketing strategy – it’s an objective. To serve your customers well, with diligence, integrity, common values is NOT marketing strategy – it’s mission. To double your sales or the number of new customers is NOT a marketing strategy – it’s a goal.
Overly tactical marketing managers have no clue where, who or what they are going after.
The last ten years has seen a mind boggling array of new tools and techniques built into software. Do not misunderstand our point – we love them for their labor savings. But they are not a replacement for long-term planning. Overly tactical marketers who select their mode of implementation and execution, before any perming research or gathering data, with poorly trained staff have inundated today’s small business owner and presented themselves as marketing gurus.
In the world of marketing we believe in a systematic and methodical approach. Anything less is going back to the dark ages.
Research, supportive data and a strategy that is unique to a brand is traditional in the world of marketing and just because most marketing tactics today are digital, does not mean strategy has died as an art!
Recently I was asked to coach a client without any understanding of who their customer was, what they do or why the audience needed them. I was asked to review their marketing automation campaigns and provide advanced tactical ideas. Uh how do I do that? Instead I spent days asking questions that gave me an insight into the lack of strategy. To say the least, I was not a good fit.
“The company without a strategy is willing to try anything.” ~ Michael Porter, Professor at Harvard Business School
Marketing tactics are certainly an important part of the marketing plan, after all it is the delivery mechanism. However, all this wooing and ooohing over the supposed wizardry that is social media, popups, virtual reality, mass content clutter, video hype, SEO, mobile optimization, site speed, CVO, user experience, CTR and campaign building through software automation is not the starting point but it is absolutely without question important.
How should you choose your marketing tactics?
First research who your perfect customer is and create a segmentation map with demographics and psychographics. How else will you know what tactic to use in order to find where they hangout?
Next, learn and understand that segmentation is how we go forward with our marketing in order to position our brand for optimal success. In order to know if our success is optimized we set clear objectives for each target audience we segment and support that optimization with hard data, this removes the feel good emotional decision process.
Methodically mapping the marketing process with strategy and then determining which marketing tactics are working by analyzing data is an art and the only way to know what is working and what is not.
What to watch for when choosing your next marketing expert.
Avoid any marketing consultant or guru who says or believes:
- That any group of people born in a certain era is how they solely define your target. Tens of millions of people will fail any test of segmentation.
- Avoid any consultant that is happy to advise without data. A decent marketing consultant will ask for significant data, or research known data, in order to understand your brand from the targeted customer’s point of view.
“Data has always been important to a marketer. However the belief that data solely drives your business decisions is dangerous. We call this ‘wind tunnel’ marketing. Why? Everyone will have access to the same data [leading to] the same conclusions, meaning brands will look the same. The purpose of a brand is to offer difference. Without that there’s no competition. That’s fairly fundamental.” ~ Sir John Hegarty, Founder, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
- That gut feel or knee jerk recommendations without testing, segmentation, strategy, data collection is their foundation.
- They have multiple concepts for your brand to try rather than establishing what it is you stand for.
- A trusted advisor….. UNLESS this is earned over time. It is not something you can purchase. You want someone who is willing and able to tell you what you may not want to hear.
- A standardized approach for your company. One that contains some acronym like BOMB (bend over marketing believers). Your marketing strategy should be unique to your brand.
“In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.” ~ John Romero, Co-Founder of idSoftware
- That a long dissertation on the prowess or their association with a set of tools, gadgets or tactics is what makes them a marketing expert. That only makes them proficient at the use of some method.
Why do so many businesses fail? Why do so many never reach their full potential? We like to ask questions.
Do you know how you plan on winning in your respective marketplace? Low price or strategic differentiation? Those are your two fundamental choices. That’s it! Typically, a low cost strategy is focused on reaching customers where you are offering a commodity, your target audience is quite broad and you are well capitalized to buy a market. A differentiation strategy focuses around meeting a specific market’s needs well.
Do you have an abundance of time, but you have to bootstrap your new business due to a lack of capital? Do you have a limited amount of marketing expertise and knowledge but a sizable budget? The idea here is that even with a scarce amount of resources, you can find combinations that produce good results.
Creativity is fundamental to business growth. Executing upon a vision, an idea or a theory is hard work and requires research, data and a strategic plan.
“Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.” ~ Casey Neistat. Co-Founder of Beme
An organization that does an excellent job with marketing tactics is one who sets a clear vision, defines the strategic target with a multitude of demographics and psychographics, adheres to that and encourages all members of the various teams that work on the brand message, tactical marketing delivery methods and customer communication in a uniform way that clearly articulates the overall brand idea, values and unique proposition.
“One of the signals of a bad consultant is a comfort with making big decisions with no data and one of the most reassuring things you can experience from a good consulting firm is a resolute refusal to avoid knee-jerk recommendations without data first being collected.” ~ Mark Ritson, Managing Director of Facebook Australia
At Viral Solutions we have written our beliefs and educated our audience on the sales and marketing process through nearly 700 articles presented countless free on-site seminars in numerous cities. Our team members have spent decades in executive positions managing hundreds of direct reports, formally educated themselves, worked in the trenches of sales and marketing, owned multi-million dollar businesses and continue to certify and recertify their knowledge and beliefs with other third party gurus and experts in a formal process.
At Viral Solutions, we believe all small business owners deserve a shot at making it big. While we made our name as an Infusionsoft provider, we also provide a wide variety of high-quality marketing services.
We have helped clients in a number of industries to dramatically improve their marketing results over the years. Since our founding, we have been featured in the New York Times and the Huffington Post and have become a certified partner of both Infusionsoft and Digital Marketer.
Want to get the most out of our services? Schedule a strategic planning session with our team today to lay the groundwork for marketing success.
“What business strategy is all about-what distinguishes it from all other kinds of business planning-is, in a word, competitive advantage. Without competitors there would be no need for strategy, for the sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable the company to gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors.” ~ Kenichi Ohmae, Creator of the Three C’s
Copyright Viral Solutions 2017
Thomas von Ahn
Chief Elephant Slayer for Viral Solutions LLC
“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful
men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they
don’t quit.” — Conrad Hilton