LEVER 2: CREATE WINNING STRATEGIES
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu
True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices around what it will take to achieve what you want and then then assessing whether it’s realistic to try. The central role of the strategist’s from a business and marketing perspective is about finding ways to aquire and keep customers.
Strategy is a matter of working out your company’s best position relative not just to pricing pressures from competitors but to all the forces in your market environment.
Good strategy at best shortens the odds of a company’s bet and given that it is primarily about addressing revenue ( which is controlled by customers ) it cannot be as accurate and predicative as other management disciplines such as cost management and planning ( which are controllable ).
As such strategist should regulary review their strategic choices against important changes that occur in the market environment and make course corrections as need be.
Considering a rebrand, an advertising campaign, or how best to go to market with a new product, whatever your marketing problem, challenge or opportunities are make sure you have well thought out strategies before jumping into tactics.
Make sure your strategic assumptions and decisions and tactics are backed up with credible market research and insights and supported with a plan that need not involve the production of long and tedious planning documents and can be summarised in one page with simply concepts and words.
By doing so you will avoid many of those unexpected bumps and obstacles that arise down the track, which inevitably causes cost blowouts and time delays in bringing your project to market or realising your business growth objectives.
1. DO A QUICK SELF ASSESSMENT
Try answering the questions below yourself to get a general sense of what may be missing or adrift from your current strategy making , research and/or planning practices and then focus on capturing opportunities for improvement and growth.
2. BENCHMARK TO OUR BETTER PRACTICE STANDARD
In collaboration with our independent specialist provider partner network we are continually developing and freely sharing better practice marketing frameworks from which business owners and leaders can objectively benchmark their current practices against and readily identify opportunities for improvement and growth.
Fear and discomfort are an essential part of strategy making. It is often said that if your are comfortable with your strategy, there’s a strong chance that it isn’t very good.
Good strategy is the result of a simple and considered process of thinking through what it takes to achieve what you want and then assessing whether it’s realistic to action.
The strategy making process and it’s success ultimately centres on two decisions/choices : the where-to -play ( which specific customers to target) and the how-to-win decision ( how to develop a sustainable and compelling value proposition for your customers) .
In relation to considering what strategies are going to fuel growth start with a re-examination of your past history and consider trends and opportunities ahead.
Consider key questions such as:
Where do you offer the best value and enjoy the most success? What new growth areas might we pursue? What segment of the market will be easiest to grow? Where does your current growth come from?
Who is your target customer?What is your offer?
What is you stated position ( what do you intend to be or stand for )?
What is your point of difference in the market?
These questions may sound relatively straight forward but can often be hard to answer and articulate without taking the time to drill down and examine in the finer issues that underlie them before producing something simple.
Formulating strategy effectively requires a lot of hard thinking and testing in the market.
Strategy is validated by diagnosis and research which in turn then clears the path for the development of your go to market tactics.
Research, Strategy and Tactics are all interelated and need to be aligned to avoid expensive mistakes.
N0 1: A clearly defined target market. Be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all men and spreading yourself too wide and shallow. Determine what piece of the market to tackle and target it precisely and relentlessly and only once you have achieved a dominant position in that segment , expand from there into the next, and so on. Focusing on too big a market inevitably also encourages sloppy strategy making.
No 2: Key differentators. What sets you apart from the rest?Why should we buy from you?
Make sure they are genuine, provable and resonate with what your audience wants and needs.
No 3: Positioning . How are you positioned in relation to your competitors? Your position is built from your differentiators.
No 4: Core Messages. What does your target audience need to hear from your business?
By strategy, we mean the high-level planning and ideas that set the direction for your overall marketing, such as how your firm is positioned in the marketplace and the key messages you deliver to your audiences.
Tactics, on the other hand, are the specific techniques you use to deliver those messages and engage your audiences. They are much more fluid and can change quickly.
Avoid the common mistake of rolling out tactics without having done your research and strategy first.
The strategy should change little, if at all, in the course of a year.
Make sure you keep tactical issues and thinking seperate from your strategy development process until ready and then develop a plan with a few measurable key objectives and stick to it.
For business, branding and marketing are two critical drivers for growth and sustainability.
But the two and their differences are often misunderstood.
Because they are different things, the strategies used for branding and marketing must be different as well.
To truly understand how the strategies should differ, the differences between branding and marketing must first be understood.
A company’s brand is your customers entire experience with your company and the promise you make. The brand is not the product , it is not the logo , packaging , or company name, it is how the company’s customers view the company and it details how the company makes the consumer feel.
It communicates truths about an organisation and is used to influence purchasing decisions.
Branding is the pulling in of a message. It is the listening to the consumer , and using that information to build a brand strategy and build customer loyalty.
A company’s brand strategy must be based on the goals of the company. Brand strategy is the blue print that explains the who, how, what and when of how a company plans on communicating their product.
The goal of branding is to figure out what makes one company ‘s product better tha another, and using the information to build brand strategy.
Marketing is the act of promoting a product in order to earn revenue , the pushing out of a message
to your target audience.
It is reaching out and engaging dialogue with exisiting and potential customers. It is a push tactic used to influence a customer’s immediate decision to purchase something.It promotes an intended value as opposed to branding that reinforces it.
Taking these differences into consideration, you can see that a branding strategy will lay the foundation for your marketing strategy.
Your branding strategies should plan out : how you intend to communicate with your target audience / where you will communicate your messages / who you will comminicate your messages to specifically / what brand metrics you will use to track and measure success.
In comparison a marketing strategy will inlcude :
Your business goals such as sales, profits, tracking website visitors etc
A clearly defined definition and understanding of your target customer audience.
A review of your key competitors , their messaging , their positioning , their tactics etc.
A schedule of activities – determine which ways/activities you will communicate information to your audience. These can be marketing, public relations, events, symposiums, print ads, internet marketing, etc.
Once you have understood your business situation, target market and audiences and formulated your strategy, you are then well placed to progress towards selecting the appropriate channels to market and tactics needed to realise the strategies.
It is our belief that due to the increased complexity and rate of technology change in the marketing landscape most small to medium size businesses simply do not have the horsepower or knowledge insights to execute efficiently or effectively.
Accordingly at Marketing Search we recommend you seek assistance in your selection and execution of tactics from proven outsource specialists to attain the best possible outcomes.
We recommend you always adopt a balance approach to building your offline and online marketing presence and avoid an over reliance on any one channel to market.
Engage an external independent researcher as there are many potential problems in relation to ensuring you gather , source , record and analyzing data regarding customers, competitors and market conditions.
Making decisions without adequate market intelligence can be disastrous and costly.
Poor research will then naturally translate to mis-placed strategy and tactical intiatives.
There are bascially 2 types of research namely Seconday and Primary.
Secondary is research that has previoulsy been undertaken by a third party entity. This can be useful as a benchmark to consider , but need to be carefully selected when buying.
Primary research is a process where an original study is commissioned about a target audience.Whilst more expensive than secondary generally , it has the benefit of directly addressing the crtitical questions the business seeks answers and validation about.
The most valuable forms of research centre generally fall into four categories:
Viability , where businesses are researching alternate markets or audiences.
Brand , where businesess research how their brand is perceived in the market, who their competitors are and what the differentators are.
Client Journey, where businesses seek to fully understand the lifecycle of a customers engagment with their business from inital awareness through to becoming a loyal repeat customer.
Experimental sometimes referred to as casual research , where business’s conduct controlled experiments on various factors to identify cause -effect relationships that affect the problem.Testing the effects of marketing campaigns on sales in a region is an example
Develop a clear statement of the problem is the key to effective market research.Set objectives that once achieved provide the information reuqired to solve the problem. Provide a project chart to schedule resources and set timelines for execution.
Undertake regular competitive analysis to ensure your business will not lose or fail to commmunicate key advantages.
Determine the information you will need to solve your research problem and estimated cost of of gathering data . Consider purchasing an industry benchmarking report which may be preferential over conducting primary research for your business or project.
Whether formulating a budget for your marketing adopt a bottom up approach.
Identify the strategies and tactics to deploy to realise your marketing goals and then add up the cost of the execution associated, this will total your budget.
You may also consider a top down approach which entails benchmarking your budget spends against your industry peers or a combination of both in setting your budget.
3. GROWTH CONTENT : RESEARCH & PLANNING
In collaboration with our independent specialist provider partner & expert community we share strategic growth specific content centred on better practices in marketing research & planning.
4. GET SUPPORT AND TAKE ACTION
Need some expert advice or support before you dive into the making of great strategy, or undertaking research and/or planning?
Get in touch with us at Marketing Search.
We’ll discuss and explore your current approach and help you find your best fit solution to your particular needs.
5. CHECK OUT OUR 6 ADDITIONAL MARKETING GROWTH LEVERS
If you need support then get in touch, email or send us your needs brief and we will revert back to shortly.