In marketing, put strategy first

marketing-strategyThis blog post by Chris Brown really hit home for me — as it should for most people working in marketing or communications.

Here’s how Brown puts it on her Branding and Marketing blog:

So often I’ll get a request from a company representative for a price on execution of a piece of marketing. A Facebook page. A website. Maybe a PDF brochure or a prospecting email.

All of these items are fine on their own. Marketing Tactics. A marketing tool that helps support marketing results.

But alone, without being in support of a goal, the tactic simply doesn’t work.

Yes and amen. Preach.

It seems that clients — whether internal or external — rarely think of strategy. They think of tactics. They want a brochure, a website, an e-newsletter.

As marketing and communications professionals, it’s our duty to help our clients think about strategy first.

I’ve said it before on this blog, but it bears repeating:

Put strategy first. Worry about tactics later.

It isn’t that complicated. Just start by answering these three questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What do you want to tell them?
  3. How do you want them to react?

(I expand on these questions a bit here. It’s a seven-year-old post, but worth reading if you have the time.)

From there, you can start looking at testing and tactics (another old post worth reading — part 2 of the post linked above).

Unfortunately, we get it backwards so many times. We start first with the tactics — the news release or email blast or brochure — then wonder why our efforts aren’t effective.

Let’s take a step back and do the hard but necessary work of answering those three simple questions. Let’s start with strategy.

Image via Blue Diamond Gallery.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

2 thoughts on “In marketing, put strategy first”

  1. Some great points here. We always preach this with our higher education clients. There’s a huge difference between tactics and strategies. Tactics should only be employed after the objectives, goals, and strategies have been laid out.

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