build that marketing strategy. the right way…led by the brand

Over the last decade I’ve seen a range of different “strategies”… from sales and business development plans, to media buying tactics, to advertising models, and brand strategies. And I’ve seen these all from a range of different managers, directors, vice presidents, and executives. And the ways in which they all built given strategies were always quite different, but nonetheless always fascinating. I’ve taken these years of learning which have given me the ability to combine elements and go forth with confidence in my own approach to crafting something I’m quite passionate about – a marketing strategy.

It’s all too common to build out a marketing strategy backwards, by starting with the ultimate business goals and stemming out from there, when in reality everything should be built from the brand and what the brand stands for, with business goals falling in to place as results.

Really? What does that mean?

Well, it’s pretty simple really.

Let’s say Company A has a couple different business objectives they want to accomplish for a given quarter. We’ll say… more sales, more traffic, and higher margins. Great. Nothing too wild.

Company A’s brand team at the same time has developed a brand “essence” for the same quarter. This is what the consumer will see, feel, and experience from the brand during this time period.

Now, the backwards example: Company A’s marketing organization shares out the big fancy marketing strategy for that quarter to the full team. The “team” is all other marketing and advertising managers, channel leaders, media buyers, and beyond. The problem? Picture a spider web chart. SPIDER WEB CHART In this example, Company A puts the business objectives in the middle and then dictates out to the larger team to go develop plans and strategies to achieve what’s in the middle. This creates fragmented, siloed marketing tactics internally which in turn creates a mess of marketing messaging to the consumer. Growing sales is not a marketing driver that paves the way for a marketing strategy. No, marketing needs to know what they are all supposed to saying and showing and how they’re presenting everything they do in a cohesive way.

Enter the importance of that brand team I mentioned earlier. Consumers in 2015 are very emotionally-driven beings. They need to feel something meaningful for a brand. So, the marketing strategy needs to follow suit and lead with the brand essence.

Example B is the same setup, but this time the brand team actually takes the lead at step 1 of that marketing strategy presentation and lays down the law of that brand essence they developed for the quarter. Let’s say it’s “The Love Of Reading.” Totally making this up for the purpose of this blog. SPIDER WEB CHART 1 Thus, that brand essence should sit in the middle of the spider web chart, with all marketing arms then working together as a unit to uncover where and how it makes sense to tell the story of the love of reading in ways that properly reach consumers. Just need to reverse the thinking in that first example. The brand essence should drive the marketing strategy (and really, the company strategy)…not business objectives.

If done right, those collaborative brand-essence-led strategies will result in things like more sales, more traffic. This is why it’s of the utmost importance for marketing organizations and companies to have their brand and brand essence in place before trying to build out grandiose marketing strategies. Otherwise, you’re just going forward with a bunch of tactics that may or may not connect to each other in the consumers’ very important eyes.

[Clearly MUCH more goes into a marketing strategy than a spider Web chart. This is just meant to be a very high level starting point to building out that marketing strategy and philosophy.]

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