It doesn’t matter what scenario you plug it into, it’s always important to have a strategy. How do I define strategy? In short, it’s simply a plan. In long, a well thought out actionable item designed to improve or increase something (i.e. sales) that includes a goal, steps in place to reach that goal, and lastly ways to measure the success of the strategy put in place.
Strategy is the bread and butter of marketing and advertising, but often times looked over. I can’t help but often wonder why this is so? I’ve come to a few conclusions based off observations of others and even myself: lack of focus, too many tasks at hand, a level of comfort, use of copy and paste strategies, lack of innovation, use of strategies that were created five years ago that are no longer relevant and/or engaging, lack of creativity, auto-pilot mode kicks in and poof there it goes; right out the window.
I’m definitely not perfect and am willing confess I sometimes hit walls. The good thing about working on a team is that if I can’t find a solution or come up with a different yet creative way of thinking or communicating, I can collaborate. To me, this is simply a fresh approach to the amazing reward that comes with planning, brainstorming and organizing thoughts into one gorgeous, electrifying, profitable and STRATEGIC marketing plan. It’s simply what we do, and that’s why we love it!
So…why strategy? Well, here’s a thought: have you ever wondered how a business is started? One of the first things an entrepreneur does (well a smart one) is they put together a business plan – or strategy – if you will. Typically it outlines the concept of the business, finances, timelines, marketing plans, goals and how the goals will be reached, products/services, markets served, and staffing of management and key employees. An entrepreneur comes up with a great idea or product – but in order for it to play out the way they envision it, they must put together a plan. If any elements are missing from the plan, they most likely will miss the mark, won’t reach the goal, and sometimes, unfortunately…. completely fail.
The same idea applies to a marketing plan. Marketing largely contributes to a companies success. Alongside the sales team, it sells the product or service. Without a proper strategy, marketing simply doesn’t work.
How do you come up with a good strategy? Depending on what tactic you’re going after, the first thing to do is research in order to have a better understanding of current trends. The way we view media and are served ads has changed and continues to change at the most rapid pace ever in history. With the super fast pace of changing technology, it is a MUST to stay on top of the newest, latest, greatest advertising tactics and platforms. Magazine and newspaper circulation is on the decline, physical pieces of mail that go inside your mailbox outside on your street have decreased, live TV viewership is heading south, mobile device usage is on the rise and has been over the past decade. Traditional advertising mediums such as TV stations and newspaper companies are opening new departments specifically for the digital ad space. Google, Bing, Yahoo, pay per click ads, display ads, online video ads and mobile app ads are more present than ever before. Staying on top of the trends and learning how these platforms work, how their algorithms perform and who they’re reaching is the biggest and number one way to stay on top of your marketing strategy. Hire an advertising agency that has experienced, qualified leaders in their digital departments if you need advice and help pulling your head out of the sand caused by this sudden dust storm they’re referring to as the digital revolution. Or, if there are budget limitations hire someone who has worked in these agencies.
Once you have a solid understanding of the current advertising trends and platforms, the second most important thing to have is a strong, actionable message. Who are you going after? What are you trying to tell them? What do they want? How will you give it to them? Do they know you have something they might need? How do you make them realize it? Consumers are losing focus. With Mom on her iPad looking at Pinterest recipes, Jimmy on his Android listening to Jay Z, Sarah on her MacBook chatting it up on FaceTime with her friend traveling abroad in Spain, Jane on the Smart TV watching Netflix and Dad on his iPhone watching video clips on his SportsCenter app, it’s important to catch these people’s attention who are getting more and more used to getting what they want when they want by a simple tap and slide of a finger. With the right messaging, you can break through. Think about your product. Think about your target audience/consumer. Creatively yet strategically marry the two.
Lastly, there needs to be a timeline in place with actionable items to follow through with. Set the goal, list out what needs to be done in order to reach the goal (tactics), and next to each tactic list a date it needs to be done by. During the process, be sure to check in on these important dates to make sure smaller tactics are being done. At the end, it’s always important to reflect and look for benchmarks of both success and failure of the strategy. Take what you learned both good and bad and refine your next strategy. As you’ve heard, with time things get better, stronger, smarter and quicker. Efficiency is the goal but without innovation, creativity and strategy you’ll never reach ultimate success.
In short, putting together or refining strategy is an ongoing process that should never take the back burner. There’s many exciting things happening out there in the world of marketing and advertising and more tools than ever to make it successful.
The fun thing about marketing is you can apply a lot of the same principles to business in general.
And just to further dwell on my statements above regarding mobile usage, this entire entry was written on an iPhone 6 with WFAA on mute in the background. But don’t worry. I’ve already scheduled an appointment for my carpal tunnel screening. Happy Monday y’all!