The other day we met with a financial technology vendor who shared their 2013 marketing strategy. The strategy included a vague set of objectives around increasing awareness and decreasing average cost per lead and a positioning statement that could have been produced by the B.S. Generator (if you’ve never heard of this, check it out. It’s hilarious!). Then it listed plans for targeted email campaigns, social media, search engine optimization, videos, events, blogs, mobile apps, and online advertising. As I glanced at it, my immediate reaction was “this is not a strategy; it’s a collection of tactics.”
Tactics Are About How You Execute on Strategy
I see this over and over again in the financial technology space. Marketing teams come up with tactical plans for how to spend the marketing budget to increase the level of market awareness (a.k.a. marketing noise), but there is no cohesive strategy behind any of these tactical activities.
A strategy needs to include things like:
- Sales objectives for the year and Marketing’s expected contribution (e.g., leads, awareness)
- An analysis of your target market – what are the key targets you’re going after this year?
- Buyer personas for all the key stakeholders involved in the buying process
- Details on what each buyer persona is trying to achieve and what drives them to change
- Your positioning relative to persona-specific business needs and drivers
- Messaging that will resonate with those key personas
- Industry issues that are driving change and influencing the buying process
Then, once you have the foundational elements of your strategy, you can put together a plan. The plan should detail who you’re targeting, what message you want to deliver, and how you’ll reach the target audience. Then you can think through campaigns that will deliver those messages. Once you have that, it’s time to figure out which marketing vehicles are best for promoting the campaigns. Now you’re ready to build the tactical plan and identify where to dedicate your budget.
As the year progresses, event planners, media companies, reporters and prospective partners will constantly approach you with the latest way to spend your marketing dollars. As these opportunities arise, each should be considered relative to the marketing strategy. Is this approach going to support your messaging? Is it an effective vehicle to deliver your content to your target audience? Will your message get through, or will it just be adding to the noise?
Marketing tactics are important, but the tactical plan is really your execution plan for the strategy.
As you develop your strategy and plan, here are some helpful resources: