Last Friday I had the pleasure of delivering a Strategy Lecture at Leeds Trinity University. This was my 2nd lecture at the university on the same topic and the focus was to ensure that the students walked away from the lecture with a better understanding on business and marketing strategy. Initial feedback was great and bobble digital will be looking at a long-term relationship with Leeds Trinity in delivering more insightful lectures. However, there are elements of what was presented that can be used by businesses and individuals today. So, I’ve broken down the key aspects of my presentation the help you understand strategy and some useful theory that can help along the way.
First thing you need to do is ask yourself What Is Strategy to You? Take some time to think hard about this and jot it down on a piece of paper. Think of keywords you associate yourself with what strategy is and how it is used and implemented. When talking to the students I discussed a number of keywords associated with strategy including; Long Term, aim, Objective, a function, activities, growth, plan. From that I came up with my own definition of strategy:
“the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”
When I really thought about strategy from a business top down approach and how that transpires into marketing strategy and planning, it’s essentially a business understanding what they should and shouldn’t do and choosing the right plan to implement business growth and drive sale. This usually can a mixture of short and long term aims and objectives. Some people may argue differently but without strategy there can be no growth in a business. The question remains is how you drive growth, that’s usually by making the right choices not the wrong ones. That’s why you develop a strategy to help you identify and choose the right choices to help the business grow.
I also discussed flawed concepts of strategy such as strategy as an Action or Aspiration. I honestly believe that your strategy should be measurable and achievable therefore I would recommend staying away from the following:
Strategy as action:
- “our strategy is to merge…”
- “…consolidate the industry…”
- “…double our R&D budget…”
Strategy as aspiration:
- “our strategy is to be #1 or #2…”
- “our strategy is to grow…”
- “our strategy is to be the world leader…”
- “our strategy is to provide superior returns to our shareholders…”
Once you have a desired business strategy in place you can then focus on transpiring the strategy into Marketing Strategy and Planning, as this how you will achieve the overall strategy of the business. When it comes to marketing strategy I can only refer to Bobble Digital’s promise to it’s clients:
STRATEGIC DIGITAL GROWTH
- Strategic – Strategy is at the heart of our decision making
- Digital – Don’t shoot an arrow in the dark
- Growth – Results you can measure.
When we talk about strategic we mean; identifying your core audience and understand their digital behaviours. This provides the basis of our channel selection and campaign targeting. Without strategy there can be no growth. This leads to digital where by understanding the audience we can build a campaign choosing the right channel to hit the core target audience. By eliminating channels with low impact you can really focus on channels that will deliver growth.
When we analyse all this, you start to see a trend. Consider my statement for strategy “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do” by implementing our promise we are able to help businesses deliver on their strategy goals but developing a marketing strategy and plan that helps them understand what plan of action they should put in place.
I told the students that if they were going to take one learning away from the lecture that is was the following statement:
“The question is not whether or not digital channels should be used, but how you will use individual digital channels”
This statement can not be truer to date, as most business strategies need digital execution to be delivered. You see this every day when you walk outside or use devices such as tablets and mobile phones. There is a strategy behind the message being driven to you. There is a reason why you are being delivered that message as you fit the right audience profile. Then there is the channel in which the message was delivered e.g. Facebook or Video on YouTube. There has to be careful thought and execution to individual digital channels.
The rest of the presentation looked at theory and there is one that stands out, the Five Steps of Strategic Planning Process which I use everyday:
This strategic planning process if used correctly can help you deliver your message to your desired audience. However the same process can analyse an advertising campaign by using this as a strategic framework and working backwords for example:
Step 1 of analysis = step 5 of planning process:
What does the choice of media tell you about the advertiser’s media strategy? Why have they chosen this media to deliver the message?
Step 2 of analysis = step 4 of planning process:
What does the creative content of the advertising tell you about the advertiser’s communication strategy and objectives?
Step 3 of analysis = step 3 of planning process:
How has the brand been positioned within this campaign? What does the advertising tell you about the positioning?
Step 4 of analysis = step 2 of planning process:
What target audience decision making is going on for this brand and the category it belongs to? How is this reflected in the advertising?
Step 5 of analysis = step 1 of planning process:
Who is the target audience for this campaign?
You can use the framework to help you understand the audience of a campaign and the strategy behind channel selection of your competitors or brands you follow. We suggest you try this framework the next time a advertising campaign catches your attention.
Here are some key takeaways I gave the students and I’m sharing with you that you can use to help you understand strategy further:
- The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do as a business.
- Strategy is key to any successful business and marketing plan. Without strategy there can be no growth.
- The Question is not whether digital channels should be used, but how you will use individual digital channels?
- Use the 5 step process to understand a marketing strategy, when you view a campaign try to adapt the process to understand the reason for the choice of media, messaging and who the target audience is.
We would welcome your feedback so please leave comments below.
By Manpreet Singh