Very good article Jason. Concise and well-worded. I agree with each point - you've covered the basics quite well here. Good job!
10 rules to a better marketing strategy
Creating strategy isn't easy – so why make it even more difficult? This article offers 10 rules to help you create a better marketing strategy.
Let’s get one thing straight – creating strategy isn’t easy. Or to be more accurate, creating good strategy isn’t easy. By good I mean the kind of strategy that gives you a tangible advantage over your competitors.
It seems curious then that so many marketers and their agencies make the process so much more difficult by ignoring the simple principles that underpin good strategic thinking – the principles followed by top strategic thinkers the world over.
The following represents 10 rules every marketer should consider before they get anywhere near a whiteboard marker or a PowerPoint deck.
Many strategies go off the rails right at the very beginning because their creators fail to spend enough time articulating precisely what the problem is and what success looks like.
Importantly, you should also check your assumptions about the ‘facts’ of the situation as well as spending some time thinking about what is not the problem (ie what is simply irrelevant or a distraction).
Once you are clear on the objectives, prioritise. All objectives are not created equal. If you achieve just one thing with your strategy, what should it be?
Too many strategies are reactive – knee-jerk reactions to market events and perceived threats. Of course there is nothing wrong with reacting to the market but it is far preferable to act than react. Your strategies should seek to drive the market and its agenda. If you have to defend a position, do so only until you can go back on the offensive.
In war, they say, the first thing that goes out of the window is the plan. So plan for it.
Hold fast to your broad strategic objectives (what military strategists call ‘the commander’s intent’) but be ultimately flexible on how you achieve them. Have a plan B (or at least have some back-up tactics ready to go). Try stuff. Experiment.
Time. Is it on your side? How does this affect your strategy? What would it take to act so fast that no competitor could successfully counter? Alternatively, can you play a waiting game if you have to?
Few companies (if any) have unlimited resources. This means that it is impractical to try to be all things to all people or to fight every battle
on multiple fronts.
Instead, focus your resources. Fight the battles you can win. Better still make the battle about something else altogether (see the Principle of Initiative above). Use most resources where you can achieve the greatest success. Play a holding game elsewhere.
Refuse to be predictable. Keep your competitors off guard. Keep your customers guessing (Apple is the master of this approach). Be audacious. Look at how you can disrupt market conventions. What can you do to distract attention away from your competitors? Be sneaky.
As they used to say in aircraft design, “keep it simple stupid” (the origin of the KISS acronym). A complex strategy is usually a poor strategy. It is best to work on the premise that whatever can go wrong probably will. With a complex, multipart strategy, there is more scope for things to go wrong.
Good strategies die in committees.
Have a limited number of people making the decisions. Make sure those people are qualified to do so. But also ensure you have a diverse set of opinions so that you avoid the perils of group-think.
Simply, you must believe you can win. This means that you have to sell in your strategy to the wider organisation (especially sales). They need to believe in the approach so that they can get behind it. Too many strategies fail at the implementation stage because their creators forget this.
Asymmetric strategies are those for which there is no credible response. They defeat the competitors’ strategic imaginations. They can best be summed up in a quote from the late Anita Roddick, “Do what others can’t or won’t.”
Of course following every one of these rules will not guarantee success, no one can do that. But ignoring them at best makes your job that much more difficult and, at worst, dooms your efforts to failure.
Learn more about the author, Jason Ball.
Comment on this article
Posted by John Robertson, Seattle, Washington |
Jun 08, 2009
Posted by Tshombe Brown, Portland, Oregon |
Jun 08, 2009
I agree with John, Jason. Each point, if executed well, supports one of the main purposes of creating a strategy in the first place: so that we can be proactive rather than reactive.
Your flexibility principle illustrates that the best way to support the ability to be flexible is to have a strategic plan in place.
Now, Jason, I think you could write at least one article on each of the 10 principles!
Posted by Erica Mills, Seattle, Washington |
Jun 08, 2009
Thank you for making good marketing strategy seem so doable. I use a three step approach to creating a marketing plan because it's simple...and I can remember all the steps when there's only three!
I especially like #6 on your list. : )
Posted by Beth Buelow, Tacoma, Washington |
Jun 09, 2009
Jason, you make many excellent points here. The first point, about purpose, is the foundation for all the others. It especially feeds into the Initiative principle; to be proactive, you must know what success looks like!
The other point that particularly resonated with me was #9, Morale. You must believe! I would add that rather than selling the idea top-down, find ways to engage key players (esp. sales and front-line folks) at appropriate points in the strategy development process, so that ownership is there from an early stage.
Thanks for sharing your marketing wisdom! ~Beth