Among the many overused marketing terms, “strategy” must be in the top five. What’s scary is not how often the word is used, but how often it is misused. Here are some common examples:
“Our strategy is to use more digital media”
“Yes, our strategy is to increase sales”
“Let’s use our strategery to make this happen”
Not kidding, that last one is real. A strategy is not about making a list of tactics and media. A strategy is certainly not the goal itself, such as to increase sales. So what is strategy?
Merriam-Webster defines strategy as “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.”
Is Your Agency Really Giving You Strategy?
As many brand marketing teams are being forced to scale back in an increasingly fragmented media landscape – it’s essential to partner with an agency that understands how to build effective strategies that are not dependent on one particular channel or tactic.
Here are five ways to spot strategic thinking in action:
1. Planning and preparation
The definition of strategy is a “careful plan” – yet in reality it can be a struggle to get budgets and sign-offs in a timely fashion for an annual marketing plan. Still, it’s better to have a strategy in place that can be altered based on budgets versus waiting for final budget information and then cherry-picking tactics at the last minute.
2. Challenging the status quo
Many brands engage in certain legacy tactics simply because “it’s what we always do.” A smart agency will challenge these types of tactics if they are not on strategy or seem to be ineffective at reaching your goals.
3. Understanding market dynamics
According to Forbes’ 5th annual Client and Agency Relationship survey, 53% of CMOs feel that agencies have a poor level of knowledge of issues that impact their business.
It’s true that despite the best of efforts, an agency may never be as in-tune with your industry as you are. The key here is to work with partners who strive daily to understand your business model, markets and competition – and most importantly how they shape your marketing objectives.
Knowing when it makes sense to halt a campaign or shift gears is extremely important in today’s world due to the nature of social media and digital marketing. We have the opportunity to change course on a frequent basis and create relevance in real-time. Work with a partner who can adapt to changing situations and is on the lookout for your brand’s “Oreo moment.”
5. Asking questions
Sometimes, even with an amazing strategy in place, additional needs arise that may leave your agency . . . puzzled. What may seem like an annoying email coming across your desk at six o’clock is likely a reflection of your agency team trying to understand the variables behind your request.
Trust us: this is a good thing.