Can marketing without a strategy really work?

Blog post by: Cameron McIver. 

I couldn’t tell you just how many managers I spoke with during my marketing career on the client side – particularly in the early days, that when I started talking marketing strategy, I was met with something along the lines of “We’ll take care of the strategy. You just ‘do the marketing’.”

I like to think that my approach to these kinds of discussions improved over the years, so it certainly happened a lot less as years went by, but it surprises me that this kind of attitude to strategic marketing does still exist in 2017. In many businesses, as long as they have a brochure, an up to date website and plenty of activity on social media, they’re generally happy.

We live in this digital age where everything moves at a thousand miles an hour and quick responsiveness is crucial. So, it’s easy to get caught up in likes/shares/hits, delivering the next campaign, etc, etc. Yet, an effective and well thought out strategy is still the backbone of any successful marketing initiative. An effective marketing plan forms the link between what the business wants/wants to deliver and what the customer/market wants/needs. If all of this isn’t clearly thought out, documented and actioned, it makes it very hard for whoever is tasked with ‘doing the marketing’ to deliver successfully. It only takes one poorly targeted campaign or comms piece for the customer to hit the ‘opt out’ button.

An example of this. I recently received some SMS marketing from a large chain of motor mechanics that I’d been getting my car serviced with. (Personally I find text messages to be more invasive than other forms of communication, but maybe that’s just me) Initially, they were a thank you for my business – great, happy to receive that. Then a reminder that my car is due for a service – again, no problem with that. This was followed up by another one with a link to view all of their TV ads. I’m sure they’re very proud of these ads, but how many of their customers would want to sit down and view them all? Just below the link was an option to opt out. Guess which I chose.

When putting together a marketing plan, I usually employ a cascading approach similar to the following, where each one drives the next

  1. Gain an understanding of the broader business objectives and the customer/market environment
  2. Develop a few (no more than 4) broad measurable marketing objectives that will deliver on the business objectives
  3. Come up with a range of strategies on how to best deliver on each marketing objective
  4. Develop a tactical marketing plan containing all the activities required to deliver on each strategy
  5. Deliver each activity
  6. Measure the results and gain feedback
  7. Feed all of this back into the planning process

Once all of this is in place, that’s when you get to do all the fun stuff like creating great content, driving social media, etc, etc and best of all just watch how much more successful all of these activities suddenly become.

Without an effective marketing plan in place, a lot of businesses out there are putting the cart before the horse without even realising it, and carrying on somewhat oblivious to how successful (and profitable) their marketing really could be.




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