Daily Archives: April 13, 2010

The Marketing “S” Word — and seven other words to live by

With the title of Chief Brand Strategist, it is inevitable that you have to define what you do.  Chief and Brand are pretty self-explanatory, so I suspect that it is the “S” word that trips everyone up.  It isn’t that Strategy is an unfamiliar word – but it seems to mean different things to different people.

  • To some, strategy is a PowerPoint security blanket — put it in a binder on your shelf, so if anyone asks, you have one.
  • To others, strategy is a buzzword – something guaranteed to make you look smart if you throw it around in meetings, as in Great idea, Bob.  But, what’s the strategy behind it?
  • In some organizations, strategy can be a formula – For target audience x, brand y is the miracle product that delivers benefits a, b and c better than any other competitor.
  • And, strategy can even be paralyzing – something you know you should have but seems big, scary and insurmountable.

To me, strategy is as simple as a road map that both focuses and inspires effective marketing efforts.  The foundation of strategy goes back to journalistic fundamentals and six simple words — who, what, where, when, why and how.

  1. Why may be the most powerful word in strategic development.  Simply ask Why am I considering this initiative? Why is also a particularly effective way to refocus knee-jerk tactical assignments, as in Why do we need a Facebook page?
  2. What has two key components — What am I trying to achieve? (ensuring accountability) and What need does my brand address? (Note, this is different than answering What am I trying to sell?)
  3. Who defines the audience and is more than just Who am I trying to reach? Who really becomes effective when you can truthfully answer Who will be most receptive to what I have to offer?
  4. How demands discipline.  Answering How does my brand meet the target’s need? requires digging to find the true benefit your brand offers, not just making a list of product features.
  5. Where has changed dramatically over the past few years.  The question is no longer Where can I best reach the target?, but rather Where can I best interact and engage with the target?
  6. When can really make a difference when budgets are tight (and whose aren’t?).  The strongest strategies look at all the potential points of influence and clearly articulate When will the target be most receptive to this message?

In the end, developing a great strategy isn’t rocket science.  But getting from good to great requires the discipline of a drill sergeant.  Once you have defined who, what, where, when, why, how, go back and look for one more word – and.

7. And is the difference between good strategies and great ones.  Great strategies are focused, precise and require trade-offs – there is no room for and.

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