Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

–Sun Tzu

“We need to do social media marketing!”

“We need case studies!”

“We need a Facebook page!”

“We need to do internet marketing!”

“We need a Twitter account!”

“We need to etc., etc.”

I hear things like this all the time.

These are all tactics. In many cases they are good tactics. Usually however, tactics are launched with a lot of enthusiasm and then fade into obscurity. Why? Because executing tactics without aligning them to an overall strategy is a waste of time effort and money.

Going to market is like going to war.

At our practice we advocate and use the marketing planning principles espoused by Tim Calkins in his book “Breakthrough Marketing Plans.” His method for creating a plan is elegant in its simplicity:

1)      Agree to what the main business goals of the company are

2)      Assign specific, measurable and time-objectives for each goal

3)      Determine the strategic initiatives required to meet the goals

4)      Research the tactics required to execute the strategic initiatives

The end result of this effort is a ‘wish-list’ of tactics and a budgetary estimate of what each tactic will cost and the expected ROI of each. Each tactic will be aligned with a measurable objective (often multiple objectives) and therefore will be aligned with overall company goals.

Then, rather than a gut reaction to the latest marketing trick, sound business decisions can be made as to whether to execute the tactic, or not. If the tactic doesn’t tie into an objective, either don’t do it or revisit the plan.

Our clients are often resistant to this at first. After going through the process several amazing things happen:

1)      All stakeholders (sales, marketing, finance, engineering, support, etc.) buy into it

2)      New marketing ideas are evaluated based upon their fitness to the plan rather than by gut instinct

3)      Marketing spend becomes measurable

4)      The quality of leads in the funnel goes up

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