By David Lawrence
Around about now is when planning typically has its big moment. Marketing teams will be working on 2024 plans and getting energized for the year ahead.
So, what’s the key component when it comes to creating a strong marketing and communications plan?
A strategy needs to create genuine focus. Or, as Sun Tzu (general and philosopher) said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
All very dramatic – but it’s true. Marketing is just noise without a clear, differentiated strategy.
Companies sell to people just as much in B2B as in B2C. In a world where the average American is bombarded by 4,000 to 10,000 adverts every day, it’s never been more important to have clarity and impact. Achieving this requires properly thinking through how your brand can authentically cut-through and forge genuine connections with its audiences.
And in today’s economic climate, it’s even more important that plans maximize resources and demonstrate clear return on investment.
Strategy is about working out what really matters. A good strategy makes it easier to co-ordinate activity across the marketing mix, giving a framework that helps decide what stays and what goes. Or, as Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter said, “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
A powerful strategy needs clear objectives – “increase sales,” “get more business media coverage,” “build the brand” are all just aspirations without unpacking what matters. Without digging into what’s really going on and what’s going to make a real difference, how successful can your business be? What does the marketing plan REALLY need to achieve – and why? Who are you targeting? What would you like them to do? What will they be interested in? Why will they care?…
A strong strategy is anchored in what’s important to the company but also what’s going on outside it. What’s happening in the economy, cultural trends, competitor activity. It needs to be outside-in based on real insight, and not just an echo-chamber of internal opinions.
So, as we head towards 2024, let’s take the opportunity to turn down the noise and prioritize focus.