I was in a planning meeting recently and was asked “Isn't this a strategy?” My response was “No, a strategy is more about the sum of the parts.” I babbled on for about five more minutes, and neither the attendees nor I were satisfied with my response.
In the end, my counterpart responded, “Isn't that what this is? A strategy?”
Innately, I knew all we were doing was throwing it against the wall to see what sticks. Sure, we were talking about it prior to doing it, but deep down I knew it wasn't a strategy.
I was left thinking: “What is a strategy, and how do I communicate the definition of a true strategy?” After all, I just kinda know it when I see it.
Oddly enough, later that night, I found myself watching Sesame Street Live. To set the scene, all the characters wanted a different theme for a party. One of the characters stated, “We need a strategy.” Abby, my daughter’s favorite, asked, “What is a strategy?”
The response: A strategy is a plan to solve a problem.
That's when it struck me,. We weren't really solving a problem in our morning meeting. We hadn't yet identified the problem. We never set a goal, worked backwards from the goal, or even established a plan. There was no specific problem to be solved, only the general goal of growing and making more money. To Yoda you for a second: General statements, a goal does not make.
The house analogy
Ironically, the following weekend, I found myself doing what most people do on a Saturday morning – trying to clean a house full of pets and children. I was going from room to room, randomly picking things up, washing down cabinets, wiping random things that looked like they needed wiping. I bounced from task to task without really completing much of anything.
Two hours later, the house was a little bit better, but nothing was actually done. Each room was still dirty and not really presentable regardless of all the hard work. The results weren't really there when it dawned on me: This is exactly what it's like to work without a strategy.
What does a good house cleaning strategy look like? It's those Saturday mornings when my wife and I sit down, put together a quick list of what we want to get done (and can get done in the allotted time), and then work the list. In a couple of hours we see the fruits of our labor and enjoy that wonderful feeling of accomplishing something we set out to do.
Why does this work?
Because we put together a strategy. We set a goal, put a plan in place, and executed it.
Of course, when it comes to cleaning a house, it's easier to set goals and make a plan. When it comes to marketing strategy, it's foreign and much more difficult.
Typically, the people who know the most about marketing tend to just attack one thing at a time, bouncing from room to room. Business leaders, however, are more adept at strategy – they like to plan before they clean but don't always understand the marketing tactics, what the goals should be, and how to best measure results.
Have no fear, you're in luck. Here's a quick how-to-get-started from your marketing and strategy experts.
How to get started (this takes 4 to 8 hours)
- Benchmark the current state
- How many visitors are coming to your site per month?
- How many eyeballs/impressions are you getting through traditional marketing sources?
- How many leads are being generated per month?
- How many leads are turning into customers per month?
- Set SMART goals
- How many people do you want to get in front of each month?
- How many leads do you want?
- How many customers do you want?
- Calculate the economics of a customer. What are they worth, and what are you willing to spend to get one?
- For more information download our economics of a customer guide
- Identify the ideal target
- Identify the buyer persona
- For more information, read our buyer persona blog
- Identify the buyer's journey
- For more information, download our Buyer's Journey Guide
- Identify tactics timelines and action plans
- Validate your strategy as it compares to your goals and adjust as needed.