Tactics without a strategy is just ‘noise.’
I’ve been working with a client recently, helping them to create their first-ever marketing plan (yeah, I know, it’s odd timing, but their fiscal year starts in July). As we were getting into it, they said things like “We want to do a quarterly newsletter” and “We want to post on LinkedIn every week.”
To which I responded, “That’s great! Why?”
And I got a blank stare in return. Then I said, “What do you want to post about every week?” The stare continued.
While they were anxious to implement marketing tactics, they had given no real thought to the strategy behind those tactics… the reason for the tactics. They just wanted to ‘do stuff.’ And while I appreciated their enthusiasm, tactics without a strategy is just ‘noise!’
Here’s how I define them… “Strategy” is what you want to accomplish; “Tactics” are how you’ll make it happen. An easy example… advertising is not a strategy, it’s a tactic. A tactic that supports the strategy of building awareness. A strategy is usually supported by several tactics… and one tactic can support multiple strategies.
So, how do you determine your strategies? It starts by doing some research. The better you understand your current business environment, the better decisions you’ll make moving forward. And to guide your research, follow the 3 C’s…
- Company: what’s happening in and around your own firm? For this, consider implementing a SWOT analysis (with client-facing employees at all levels), an audit of your current marketing activities, and a review of trends in the market research industry that could have an impact on your business – positive or negative. Also, take a look at the products and services you’re offering… are they still the right ones for the audience you’re serving?
- Clients: what are clients telling you they want? And what do they think of you (remember, the buyer’s perception is the seller’s reality). Here, consider doing client and former client interviews, reviewing revenue history (the best report: revenue by client by year, for the past five years) and a review of trends in the industries or markets you serve that could have an impact on your business – positive or negative. Also, take a look at the types of clients you work with… are there new types you need to consider targeting?
- Competitors: what’s going on with those companies you battle with every day? Here, make sure to spend some time on their website (at least quarterly) and download any resources they make available. How are they talking about themselves? How do they differentiate themselves? Are they launching any new products or services? And if you’re really concerned, consider executing a secret shopper exercise to get a peek ‘behind the curtain.’
The Bottom Line
We’re at a really interesting time in our industry right now… changes from technology, coming out of the pandemic, M&A activity… not to mention an economy that can’t seem to decide what it wants to do.
So, as you think about the future of your firm – and its growth – go into it with your eyes wide open. Be smart. Spend some time thinking about what you need to do… not just doin’ stuff because that’s what you’ve always done. Set your strategy first… the right tactics will follow.