By Shavonnah Roberts Schreiber, Managing Director, SNR Creative

If we were friends and I told you I was building a house from the ground up, but I did not have any blueprints? You would probably check my temperature to be sure I was not ill. Not that building a house is a bad goal, but building a house without a blueprint is a terrible idea - much like deploying a horde of marketing tactics without a strategy.

I think the reason many businesses – large and small – proceed with their tactical plan sans a marketing strategy is because people often confuse a marketing strategy with a marketing plan. Well actually, confusing strategy with a plan is a common misstep in life, not just in marketing.

Think I am being dramatic? Consider another common “friend with a wild idea” example: how many times have you had a friend tell you that they are not happy with their current state and would like to change it. Said friend proceeds to tell you what their goal is, “Live my best life... you know, like Deepak (similar to, but not to be confused with Tupac) Oprah said...” and how they plan to do it is by getting a dog/dumping their mate/moving to Colorado, etc. All potentially good (maybe?!), and all tactical.

You say, “Cool...have you thought about how you are going to manage a new dog/singleness/moving to Colorado?” Your questions are greeted with blank stares or worse, you are told you are not being supportive.

In my view, the reason marketing campaigns and your friend’s plan to “live their best life” do not work is because while both have identified an end goal (sort of), both lack salient strategies for how they will get accomplish that goal.

Whether in marketing or in life in general the Goal – Strategy – Tactics – Implementation framework is what is required if you really plan to move the needle and accomplish what you set out to do.

Let’s look at each independently:

  • Goal – the goal is the what you want to accomplish or have be your outcome. In marketing that could be gain market share, enter a new market, improve conversions rates, produce a more favorable ROI, lead acceleration through sales funnel, etc.
  • Strategy - your strategy overarching idea/theme for how you will achieve the stated goal. For example, if you owned a popsicle company in the Houston Heights and your goal was gain market share over a competitor, the strategy might be become the develop a plan to become the preferred popsicle provider in all elementary and secondary schools in the Houston Heights and the five zip codes that surround it.
  • Tactics - The best strategy will not work if you do not take it a step further and develop a tactical plan. Your tactics are the step- by- step how you plan to accomplish the strategic goals you have set. Marketing tactics include: Advertising on TV and in magazines, digital advertising, search engine marketing (SEM), retail promotions, etc. Building on the popsicle company example above, your tactics could include advertising in the food services magazines used by school districts, running Facebook ads targeted toward educators and outfitting a popsicle truck and giving out free popsicles on field days.
  • Implementation - Implementation is where the “magic” happens, it’s when you hit, “Go!” on the tactics you have planned. This step can sometimes seem like a ‘no-brainer’ but I have see many well documented marketing plans that don’t work because...wait for it... they are never actually implemented- craziness I know, but more common that you might think.

graphWhile all the components of the Goal – Strategy – Tactics – Implementation framework are important, they are not all created equal. You can have a great goal, super tight tactics (that you implement!), but without a comprehensive strategy, your tactics will not likely take you as far as they could. Marketing tactics are the spokes, but the strategy is the wheel and without the wheel, the spokes cannot do their job effectively. There is no shortcut here, you can’t simply set a goal and then string together a list of tactics and back into a strategy, don’t be fooled – this is one of those times when following the process as it is meant is what will win the war, and you want to win the war.

According to a 2014 report on B2B Content Marketing Trends in North America  over 55% of B2B marketers do not have documented marketing strategies. The article sights some of the most common reasons marketers are not creating a strategy before building a tactical plan despite mountains of evidence that show tactical plans perform better when tethered to a solid strategic plan. Reasons ranging from lack time to lack of internal buy-in to plain ole’ lack of effort – all plausible and all not new.

What does this tell us? It tells us that not having a strategy is the status quo, so having a strategy means you will be going against the grain and likely ruffling feathers – some feathers that might be flying around your view own Marketing Department.

But don’t fret -stay strong my fellow (strategic) marketer! Whether you are one of a few or the only one that sees the value of taking the time to follow the Goal – Strategy – Tactics – Implementation framework, and most importantly be sure the Strategy is not overlooked – stay the course, set the strategy, your team, company and its stakeholders will thank you later, trust me. I think it safe to say that in marketing and in life in general, you will win the war (not a measly battle!) of accomplishing the goal(s) you set if you do not forsake setting your strategy.
Need help setting your marketing strategy? SNR Creative can help, visit www.snr-creative.com for more information.


About the author:
Shavonnah Roberts Schreiber is a marketing expert with 15 years of experience developing and executing holistic marketing, business development and communications plans for companies - ranging from boutique to global Fortune 500. She has teams that has created and executed global marketing programs and campaigns - with a proven track record for success.

Shavonnah is the founder and Managing Director of SNR Creative, a boutique marketing and communication firm. At SNR Creative she focuses on helping individuals and business owners effectively brand, market, and position themselves, their services and/or companies to achieve greater success.

Shavonnah is a native Houstonian. She graduated of the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Communications and with a minor in Journalism and also received an MBA from the University of St. Thomas-Houston. Shavonnah is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also a graduate of Leadership Houston. Shavonnah is an American Marketing Association (AMA) member and has achieved the Professional Certified Marketer distinction through that organization. She also a skilled public speaker and has achieved the Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze distinctions from Toastmasters International.

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