Strategy First, Always Wins

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Work on your strategy, before you pick your tactics.

Many of the companies that ask me to help them develop a Content Marketing program lament that their previous agency led them down a path that earned them little in return.

It doesn’t take long for me to learn that most often it was a case of putting the cart before the horse.

With all the new digital marketing / social media options a trend is for marketing firms to slice and dice the budget among the “hot” options du jour i.e., Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, et al. with little research to determine the strategy that will efficiently reach and engage their target audience(s).

I’ve been told that I “ask a lot of questions” at the beginning of our partnership, in which I use my now popular metaphor of an Iceberg to explain my methodology.

I suggest that the top part of the iceberg is the Content that your future customers see (Blog, Linkedin post, newsletter, etc.).

The part beneath the water – the biggest part – is the research that goes to first craft a strategy that will help your tactics resonate with your prospects and convert them into raving ambassadors.

I’m always intrigued when a client shares with me their appreciation for my commitment to do the research to help them better connect with their prospects.

I often hear, “The other guys spent a lot less time learning about our industry and just who is our target audience.”

I answer simply, “I learned early on the value of research and its importance to help develop a strategy that will have a substantial impact on your tactics.”

A current Case Study of how a “Strategy First” approach wins is Subaru.

This Japanese car maker, with a large Indiana manufacturing plant, had a long run as the “Official Car of the US Ski Team”. This relationship ended 10 years ago and was replaced with a strategy that focuses on the utilitarian aspects of their cars and how their target audience appreciates the benefits.

Subaru has not only been the most successful of all Japanese automakers in growing its volume in the US since 2006 – it has double digit sales increases in each of the past nine years!

The well done marketing effort provides a utilitarian perspective on how well Subarus safely make it through the snow, mud and inclement weather and not on a specific feature, like a way to open the back door by putting your foot under the bumper, or that there are video screens in the headrests.

Before you decide to invest in a series of new marketing tactics, I suggest you do the prerequisite research. And if you’re not 100 percent sure of your strategy, an “A / B test” to small segments of your target audience(s) will help you discover a viable path on which your tactics can follow.

One last thing. In addition to your research my friend Beth, a Social Media maven, suggests you conduct some “Social Listening” to get a sense of what and how your prospects feel about your product or service as well as your competitors.

Of course, if and when you decide a new strategy is needed, we are ready to help you.