Why is strategy so important?
Many clients come to marketing firms or ad agencies knowing they need to make more money by attracting more customers, but not knowing where to start.
A Facebook post or article might tell you about something great to try that worked for someone else, but you need experience to know what really is the best course of action specifically for your business with your goals, timeframe and budgets. If all you had to do was follow someone else’s activity, then we’d all be instantly successful after a 5 minute blog read. Even a few successful campaigns probably aren’t going to move you as far as you’d like without a big-picture strategy.
The mixup between tactics and strategy starts from the top of any organization and how the purpose and vision are disseminated through the company. Everyone needs to understand why they are doing their work, and how it fits into the company goals, or they will be overwhelmed with the daily workload and functions and left un-attached to their actual purpose.
If you are serious about your online business efforts and your brand reputation, you can’t afford to put out inconsistent messages. You can’t do this without a deep understanding of your audience. You need to start with some fundamental thinking to set up your content plan as an extension of your business messages.
Not all strategies fit every step, but all your steps need to be in line with your overarching, customized strategy. There is no formula or bulletlist of tactics to follow to move customers along a journey, so adjustments need to be made and updated strategies need to be formed.
You can’t just google your way to business success.
You need a thought leader. The power in your success is not your activities, but your strategy. You need structure and processes to get traction in the digital space.
Experienced marketers script the critical moves and shape the path, using the “science” of solid strategies. They also know enough to let the “art” happen, and flow where relationships take them, going well beyond guesswork and entertainment. It takes setting business processes, a content library, and establishing a content/editorial calendar. Promotions should be planned out and timed to match critical company events like promotions or offers. It takes a lot of experience to start testing, a quick reaction to trends, and solid decision-making along the way.
When do we need strategic plans?
Often companies save marketing plans for the end of the startup process. It is seen as an afterthought, to get the message out and tell everyone you are ready with what you have for them. Since marketing strategy is the only part of your business dealing directly with your prospects and customers, isn’t it obviously crucial to your operations from the start?
Solid marketing plans and structure need to be in place before any business development efforts begin.
Strategy comes first. Effective and measurable results must start with strategy. It takes a big, clear vision to specify your direction, and only with a solid high-level strategy can you determine your priorities with any success. Before you build anything, before you sell anything, you need to plan your marketing strategy. You don’t want to put all your money into development of your product or develop your app, without budgeting for marketing right from the beginning.
No one would build a house without pouring a foundation, yet many companies start marketing and social media activities without preparing their site, landing pages, creating content, and training staff. Before sending your creative team or agency off to start campaigns, you will want to ensure that you have maximized your opt-in opportunities and can manage the incoming communications.
With all good intentions, one organization spent $10,000 on a social media campaign without any strategy or lead capture in place beforehand. The failure of the campaign was inevitable, and also preventable, if the right marketers were part of the process early on.
Can’t we just outsource our strategy? If a manager has limited time for the projects and the company vision has not been disseminated clearly to all staff, it would be difficult for anyone to make solid decision to carry the company in the right direction. Only clear vision, interaction, and supervision along with agreement of all teams and management can move success forward.
Content grows across channels and across departments. Hiring vendors without connections to your site and your communication strategy and access to your staff will challenge the outcome or keep it local. There are ways to keep strategy in-house if the skills are in place or can be nurtured.
Your in-house staff may not always see the big picture of your business or the scope of your customers needs. They can become too accustomed to systems, meetings, and weekly workloads to track industry trends and find opportunity in the holes of events outside the company. When things aren’t broken enough, there is little impetus for change – change that is needed to attract new customers with new methods.
Posting to Social Media does not mean you have a Digital Strategy
Maybe your intern can craft an intriguing 30-word post, but how do you expect to move people through to action with a few Likes? Do you want to invest money and time into promotional activities and hand your brand messages over to someone else not involved with your strategy? Do not seek to outsource social marketing just because you don’t have the time, or skills, in-house.
Social media management is only needed after you have a track record of success on a platform that you want to grow, or capture in parallel from another social network. If you are starting out or have a low following, there is little to manage and lots to strategize.
Why do marketers need so much of my time?
You can’t measure results if everything is kept separate. If advertising is done by your ad agency and your social media is done by an intern or staff member, than it’s hard to see it shaping into anything. If your marketing efforts are siloed, then it’s much harder to get any picture of how you are really doing.
You cannot get the most work out of your marketing team if you can’t feed them the best details about your customers. You can’t feed them the best details if you don’t take the time to understand what the team needs to do their work most effectively. There is a beginning level of digital marketing that needs to be completed to feed your agency the highest level of details. If this does not happen, you will receive reports proving how much work your agency did for you, instead of seeing actual results to your bottom line. The responsibility sits in your hands.
There is a lot of value from learned experiences that junior marketers or outside vendors usually do not bring to the table. Those experiences rarely come from a past situation that was similarly matched. The best insights often come from other industries, and other experiences across companies, sectors, locations and incidents.
Marketing is never an activity for one person.
When creating a social media plan bring everyone from the CEO, the marketing & advertising team, and all upper and middle management on board in the decision-making process that will result in a company’s social media marketing strategy. Multi-departmental Management has to be a part of your marketing and keep being part of it for major decisions and budgets.
A smart marketing strategist will queue up the key questions, and then develop This takes focus, discipline, and solid decision-making, along with formula, planning, consistency, and testing evaluation. Strategy work takes a mass of skills from engineering to storytelling to creative.
Intentional or Accidental?
Your success is up to you!