‘Why’ Before ‘How’: Strategy vs Tactics

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In a world of new marketing platforms and tools, daily, many businesses fall into the trap of focusing on the ‘how’ BEFORE (or completely forgetting) the ‘why’. 

There are so many tools and platforms these days for listening and pushing your message that what you want to say is often lost in the shuffle of figuring out where you’re going to be saying it.

Confusing WHY and HOW can lead to problems that will absolutely impact your business’s bottom line.

Taking the time to create a marketing strategy before an execution strategy will save resources . In addition to the stress it will save it will also save you time, money, and increase the overall results of your efforts.

Before going all Bruce Lee and trying to karate chop on every platform available to your business, take a step back and remember to stretch.

First, Define Your ‘Why’

The most important part of any marketing strategy is the WHY. Having a hard time defining your ‘why’? Here are some questions to help you find it:

Why are you doing this? What do you want/hope to achieve? What does success look like?

Any time we pitch a marketing plan to our clients, we start with explaining what we’re trying to achievebefore digging into the weeds. Defining success helps everyone fully comprehend the ideas and stay focused on the outcome.

I took this same method when outlining this blog post.

I asked myself, “what do I want you to learn?” before starting the first paragraph. This process helped guide me through the writing process and ensured I was on the correct track.

Mapping Your Path

Think about it like a GPS. Before leaving your home or office to go to a new location, you enter the address into your GPS. The destination is where you want to go.

Let’s call that destination “success”.

The very first step to getting accurate directions is knowing where you’re currently at and then determining where you want to end up. Once you’ve figured out where you are and have locked in your destination, it’s now time to figure out which route will get you to your final destination in the fastest and most efficient manner.

Picking the Best Route

After you define where you want to end up, it’s now time to work backward. Ask yourself, “how are you going to get there”? What’s your strategy for achieving the success you’ve defined?

Your GPS is going to provide you with multiple routes. Some routes have a shorter distance, some have more stop lights, and some routes have tolls. All things to consider when choosing a path. Most times you’ll choose the route with the shortest amount of time it takes to reach the destination. It’s usually a good idea to do the same with your marketing strategy.

Although the path (strategy) you choose will have a lot to do with how quickly you arrive at your destination (reach your goal), also take into consideration the efficiency and costs associated with your path.

Choose Your Tactics

By now you know where you want to go and have chosen the path of least resistance. Now let’s figure out how you’re going to get there.

Here are a few travel options you might consider when using your GPS:

– Traveling by foot could take a while.

– Riding a bicycle will cut down on travel time but require a minor investment in equipment (a bicycle).

– Getting on the bus or other public transit options require your to purchase a ticket and will also require a greater level of planning if you to switch buses or wait between buses.

– Driving your car will require a budget for gas and parking but will get you there much faster than the other options.

These examples are similar to the tactics you should be thinking about when figuring out how to execute your marketing strategy.

Every travel option can get you where you want to go but would you really want to take your car to the highway, then park, then unload your bicycle from the trunk, then ride it to the bus station, and then have to load your bike onto the bus and ride the bus to your final destination? Possibly, but those methods will take a lot of logistics to make sure you stay on schedule and are heading the right direction.

The above example is a little dramatic but we see it everyday as businesses try to use social media marketing as a tactic to push their content, products, and services to audiences across multiple channels. Ever started with Facebook, then hopped over to Twitter, before running to Pinterest, then transferring to Instagram while dabbling with Google+?

Make sure you think about which platforms you’re going to use to achieve success and why you’re choosing those platforms? Going after every platform is not a strategy.

Each social media platform has it’s own unique audience and benefits, among many other things.

If you jump on and off each platform without taking into consideration the audience and native content needed for each, you’ll get lost and confuse your audience along the way. This will dilute your message and your brand. Could you maximize effectiveness by efficiently targeting one or two platforms that have the perfect audience to engage with and want to consume your quality content? The answer is “yes”.

Create a Plan

Make sure your marketing strategy clearly defines success. Then decide the fastest, most efficient route for achieving success, and finally choose the proper tools and platforms to travel that route.

Don’t let the newest tools and platforms, as bright and shiny as they may be, distract you from successfully executing your marketing strategy.

With that said, also don’t be afraid to experiment. As long as you have success as your final destination in the GPS, sometimes back roads and straying from the main path will still get you to your destination in new and unexpected ways. Just be sure you have a plan that get you where you want to be in the most efficient way possible.

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