Starting With Marketing Strategy
Not getting the results you want from your marketing dollar? The problem could be in the planning.
As business owners one of our biggest challenges is getting the message out there. We don’t have the resources of the big players and we have to choose carefully where we spend our marketing dollars.
But one thing the big players have over us is that they invest in strategy – business strategies, and marketing strategies. They know what they want to achieve, plan how they are going to achieve it and know the return on investment they will achieve. They know where to place their money. They also know that working strategically brings in many more dollars than working tactically.
Unfortunately the majority of small businesses work more on the tactical rather than the strategic level. This makes success immensely difficult. Working from a tactical level immediately puts you behind the eight ball.
So what is the difference between strategy and tactics?
Financially it is huge. It can mean not only the difference of success or failure, it can mean how successful, from making $5.00 to the investment dollar to $1000.00 to the investment dollar.
Strategy is the complete master plan you devise to accomplish your goal, your vision for the business. It is the complete blueprint of how everything fits together to produce the outcome you are after, and how to keep repeating the result.
It means identifying and defining all the methods you bring together for total success. It is the what, where, when, how, who, why of the business.
Strategy is done carefully, thoughtfully, methodically and calculatingly to achieve precise and well defined goals. It defines and clears the path to reaching your targets, goals and outcomes that are set into phases.
Tactics are purely the tools, the methods used to implement the strategy. They are ongoing and are directed by the game plan identified and defined by the strategy.
Tactics are just steps, actions, means, methods, and tools of the strategy. They are important in their own right but they are subordinate to the strategy, they are there to give you the results of your strategy.
A series of advertisements in the newspaper are the tactics of the strategy. The advertisements are only tools. Unfortunately many are unaware that they see the advertisements as having the power of a strategy when they actually only have the power of a tactic.
Strategy is the detailed game plan whereas tactics are the means, the tools to implement the plan.
So how does a small business bring together a strategy? It isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Strategy is about vision. Vision needs to be defined and communicated. Even if the business is as small as mine – a one person, home-based business.
When I’m working on my strategy I write, draw, and talk it out. I write up notes in my notebook I constantly carry, and then pull the ideas together on the computer. I draw diagrams in my notebook and then transfer them onto the computer. I use diagrams to show business structures, process flows, designs, all manner of concepts. This brings my vision out of my mind and into something tangible, something I use to not only communicate to others but to clarify the vision for myself. These are then included in the Business Manual so I can refer to them easily and I can share them with others as I need.
When it comes to crunching numbers for the strategy I use Microsoft Excel. This is where the testing of vision happens, do the figures add up? From there I manipulate the vision to refine it into a strategy with affordable tactics that give me the return on investment I require for the time, money and effort I invest.
It is one thing to have a strategy circling round in your head, it is another thing to get it down on paper and then document it in the computer (using Word writings, PowerPoint for drawings, Excel for figures etc) because getting it out of your head and onto paper clarifies it all. The process is challenging and sometimes you need to bring in advises to help with asking the right questions and keeping you motivated. It is one of the most important ways to invest in your business and if you are serious about this business then you’ll want the advantage over your competitors. Working on strategy is what people who are serious about their business do. Saying it is too hard or there isn’t time for it is what the ones who are satisfied with getting by with the skin of their teeth and the likelihood of failure. Personally I want a strong, healthy, successful business and am happy to do the work. What do you want for your business?