Building A Winning B2B Marketing Strategy
Strategy is the backbone of great marketing. However, it’s the marketing strategy that is the most often overlooked or underdeveloped component of many marketing plans. The consequences of poor strategy can amount to wasted resources or, worse, a failed business initiative.
Bottom line: businesses cannot afford not to develop the correct strategy the first time around. A double negative, I know… but it underscores the point!
Good marketers must be part strategist and part tactician.
Developing a great marketing strategy requires asking tough questions and developing consensus and clarity around goals. This often requires the marketer to serve as referee among all the stakeholders. The process of goal setting should include senior management and the sales and production teams. Clear objectives will allow effective measurement of all the marketing efforts.
It is said that knowledge is power. By acknowledging potential impediments to success, each potential course of action considered for the strategy can then be conceived proactively to both achieve goals and thwart obstacles. Like killing two proverbial birds with one stone, it’s far more efficient to hit a goal while at the same time navigating a pitfall. Now the strategy is ready to be created, followed by tactics.
Strategy and Tactics
In order to never confuse the two, think of it this way. Strategy is a high level “roadmap for success” that defines the basic courses of action required to arrive at the correct destination – on time and on budget. Whereas, tactics comprise all the specific actions that must be taken and tools to be employed to successfully execute the strategy.
For instance, “develop a creative advertising campaign to sell the unique brand attributes of quick service at low prices” is a strategy item. “Buy a local television schedule, produce a 30-second spot, and deliver creative” are tactics that support the strategy.
Jumping to Conclusions
We all know what happens when one assumes… When developing sound strategy a true marketing pro must resist the urge to jump to conclusions. Every strategy should be unique to every brand, product, competitive situation, and time (within the product life cycle). One should never attempt to prescribe tactics before all inputs have been considered and analyzed.
Creative for Creative’s Sake
The highly creative marketer has an even harder task, and that is to resist the urge to create for creative’s sake. Strategy must drive creative, not the other way around. The fun path or the first creative thought is not often the right one for the brand. This is why the creative brief is so crucial, especially when the strategy must be communicated to the creative team of copywriters, graphic designers, and others who will be responsible for bringing the campaign to life.
Although a Hollywood-created character, “Mad Men’s” Don Draper, Creative Director with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, described the creative process this way. He explained that one must think very deeply about the creative problem being solved. If one thinks deeply enough, (focusing on all of the inputs), the answer will come, perhaps when least expected… even while sleeping or in the shower. Allowing the conscious and unconscious brain to deliver the creative answer is a powerful way to ensure that the work is on goal, on strategy, and will deliver the best possible results for the brand, product, or client. Nothing to it, right!?
Winning Marketing Strategy
Building winning strategy is a deliberate process. It’s not always fun or sexy. Nor is it quickly arrived at without proper evaluation of all the desired outcomes. And in the end, great creative always begins with great strategy, not the other way around.
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