2:16 PM

Don't know where this film director said this Will Keenan , either way he speaks the truth.

“Big Data is not a strategy. It is just a lot of data.
Automation is not a strategy. It is a process done by machine.
Hyper-personalization is not a strategy. It can be creepy.
Content is not a strategy. It is everything.
Social media is not a strategy. It is all media.
Innovation is not a strategy. It is a fancy word for new ideas.
Bots is not a strategy. It is a software that runs automated tasks.

A strategy is not about big words. It is all about choices.

Focusing on a segment of the market is a strategy.
Prioritizing a geographic location is a strategy.
Emphasizing a brand attribute is a strategy.
Doubling down on a particular time of the year is a strategy.
Solving a particular problem is a strategy.

Avoid jargons, make clear choices.”

Alberto Brea
Executive Director, Engagement Planning at OgilvyOne Worldwide

Like in all industries, Marketers have their own language, but for better or for worse theirs has seeped into every day use, and unfortunately misuse — to the extent that it risks losing all its original meaning. But even before that, nobody even really gets the difference between strategic, channel, tactical planning.
I often find myself talking in circles wondering why my words are confusing my listeners, and where is my babble fish to translate. Recently I was asked to speak on a panel addressing the topic of building marketing strategy. So this is as good of an occasion as any to attempt to demystify the jargon and breakdown these two loaded words for you: marketing and strategy.

Strategy is really just a fancy word for setting business goals. My issue with this word is its total and complete overuse. When everyone claims being a strategic problem solver it diminishes the real value of strategic planning. What we’re facing is an industry in which “strategy” is being tossed around the room merely for the sake of ego. That’s got to stop.


Marketing Strategy on the other hand means setting marketing goals. It’s as simple as that. I’ve heard all sorts of goals set when creating marketing strategies. Any other numbers of any real importance are either KPI (Key Performance Indicators) which are measurable check-points to track how effectively the plan works (ex. click through rate of emails, average over value, number of promo codes used, etc) or sales numbers. There are only two real marketing goals:

1. Getting new customers (Acquisition, or sometimes refer to as Awareness)
2. Keeping existing customers (Retention, or sometimes refer to as Loyalty)



A marketing plan is a playbook that specifies how a company will meet their marketing goals to either reach new customers or keep existing customers. In spite of the online world making it easier than ever to create and distribute a message, the basics of business need to be defined before developing anything:

· Business goals
· Marketing goals
· Who is your Audience
· Your audience’s problem, and/or your “why”
· Brand Messaging
· Pricing & promotion
· Channel plan
· Tactical plan
· Budget

Here’s where things can get a little mucky. There are so many “marketing strategies” (aka channel plans, marketing models, marketing programs) to choose from — I have found 127 in total, YES, 127!

A good recipe is a combination of them at once. For example some online marketing strategies include a pinch of influencer marketing and eComm marketing, a heavy dose of email marketing and search marketing, with a touch of offline marketing and event marketing.


Once you figured out the combination that will work to meet your goals then you need to bring it to life. This is what we call tactical plan: the set of touch-points activities that carry out the strategy. For example, if you have decided you will be using email marketing as one of the strategies, a touch point can be the welcome email that is sent out when your audience first sign up, and the series of emails, information and promotion they receive when signing up to your mailing lists. The way these tactics work together as an integrated and coordinated whole (marketing mix) matters far more than the nature and type of each individual tactic.

That being said, I want everyone to go back to that list and look carefully because social media strategy is not on that list BECAUSE SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT A STRATEGY — it’s a tactic. I’m picking on social media because of the excessive amount of people using the term: social media strategy. Social media is the newest form of word of mouth marketing (WOM) and should be only one of several communication vehicles used for a dialogue with your audience.

The tactical portion of your plan is how you “physically” engage with people and create and overall experience for your audience. Personally I’m a big believer in tactical plans needing a combination of real life and digital touch points so as to bridge the gap between person, screen and brand.

Once your tactical plan is in place (guidelines, calendar and a list of activities based on channels) then you need to DO IT — develop, create, execute, design, build, project manage — basically get it out there and see what works and doesn’t work, then adjust based on data and feedback.


You must be thinking of the hassle of it all now. Well, I have seen plans that are 3–5 pages long that include only 3 tactics, and some that are 100 pages long that pull out all the bells and whistles. There is no one size fits all marketing solution to reach your audience. What I do know is that without a plan you’re shooting in the dark, so hassle or not it’s absolutely needed.

If your target is short term sales I have no doubt that any marketing efforts should get you at least some traction. When I Google “how many people are in the world and use social media”, the answer is 7.1 BILLION people in the world with and estimated 1.96 billion on social media.

But if you’re looking for long-term growth and relationship building with your audience then build a plan and keep adjusting it based on your audience needs and how they connect to your brand’s values. Focus on closing the gap between marketing and sales, develop based on your brand values, business objectives, audience needs (human problem), and the time and budget that you have available for this.

You’ll notice I have started using the word brand. Before you even start with your marketing strategy or develop your plans — build your brand. But that’s a whole other blog post “Demystifying branding jargon” Stay tuned.

One last thing
If you liked this article please share it so that others can be inpired.

References that inspired this post:

Stop Using Battle Metaphors in Your Company Strategy
Frank V. Cespedes Harvard Business Review December 19, 2014

Marketing Plan Handbook by Marian Burk Wood
The New rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

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