Strategy First, Then Tactics

(The following is an excerpt from the Introduction of the upcoming book Marketing From the Navel: How to Become a Company Worth Talking About and Arm Customers to Spread the Word)

I have a favorite saying by the famed war strategist, Sun Tzu, that says, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” In the marketplace today, there is a lot of noise. Anyone who learns how to use Facebook is all of the sudden a social media “expert” and the bookstore shelves are littered with publications giving their take on what this new reality means from a marketing perspective. Most of this literature tries to tell you what is going on in the market but few give you the tools to do something about it.

If you were looking for a Twitter or Facebook “tips and tricks” book, then you have come to the wrong place. There are plenty of excellent publications available that will help you hone your skills in one particular technology or another. There are some publications that will give you a task list (i.e. “write a blog”, then post it on Facebook, then Tweet about it). Others will give you a list of rules for online etiquette.

Stephen Covey talks quite a bit about “paradigms” in his writings, such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A paradigm is a mental map, or the way in which we see the world. He uses the analogy of an iceberg to illustrate that the tip of the iceberg is our behaviors or our attitudes. If we want to make small changes in life, we work on the tip of the iceberg. However, if we want to make large, quantum changes, we work on the mass of the iceberg beneath the water, which is our character. It is as Blaine Lee states in his book, The Power Principle, “The principles you live by create the world you live in; if you change the principles you live by, you will change your world.”

I believe organizations work the same way. For so many years, we have operated under a certain paradigm. The industry as a whole has been making small changes by simply changing their tactics or their attitude about the consumer revolution. We have merely added social media or viral marketing as arrows in our quiver. I want to do more than change your list of tactics, I want to change your paradigm. I want to change the way you think about marketing.

Secondly, you most likely hear a lot of “noise” in the marketplace about new marketing tactics and how the old ways are dead. The Internet bubble of the late 1990s taught us many lessons about hype versus substance. The biggest lesson of all was that core business principles don’t change, but remain constant. For example, you still need a business plan that will generate revenue at some point (being bought out for millions of dollars because you have a lot of users doesn’t count). Also, cash is still king, and the faster you burn through your venture capital money, the faster you will make it to the unemployment line. This is the reason Amazon.com is still growing, yet Pets.com is a mere sock puppet memory. The Internet bubble taught us that though the delivery mechanisms may change, the core principles stay the same.

While there is significant hype about new forms of marketing, whether it be new media, word-of-mouth, or simply new places to plaster ads (i.e. cell phones, urinals, bases in baseball stadiums), there is a risk in all the hype. People are again forgetting the basic principles of marketing that still apply and are more important than ever. Like core principles in the universe (i.e. do unto others as you would have them do unto you), there are core principles in marketing that never change – despite the tactics. Many of the technology tools available today, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn didn’t even exist 5 years ago. The tools may change, but if you understand the principles you can be successful no matter what the hot new technology is.

In the following pages, you will hear familiar terms, such as “positioning”, “customer segmentation”, and “customer experience”. Do not be alarmed! These are simply some of the core principles of marketing that, when applied correctly in the new paradigm, are just as powerful and more relevant than ever.

In this book, I introduce two separate models. The first model will help you develop a company worth talking about. This is the strategy component. Before you do anything online or off, you have to create something worthy of our attention, worthy of our passion, and worthy enough to pass along. Otherwise, you will merely create the “noise before defeat.” The second model takes the buzz-worthy organization you have now created, and shows you how to deputize your own customers to take your message out and spread the word. This is the tactical component that will help you achieve a quick “route to victory.”

There were many who were too comfy in the existing power structure and existing paradigm. Marketers controlled the message, the medium, and the content. Today, they are no longer in the conversation, and that elicits great fear in executive corridors and ad agency war rooms. However, those that embrace and implement the following models and principles will find that it is an amazing time in our profession. Never before have we been able to engage with each consumer on a one-to-one basis. Never before have we had the key influencers in our target market gathered together in a central location. Never before has a message been able to spread so quickly.

All you need are the tools… the tools of the revolution.

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4 thoughts on “Strategy First, Then Tactics

  1. Looking forward to my signed copy Brian!
    Would love to see how many Chris Farley quotes you could intertwine into the book…because it just wouldn’t be fair to those that don’t know you how funny Marketing can be! 🙂
    -jen
    @jenharris09

    • I’m thinking of holidng an online webinar and need to do a bit of research into what this involves I’m quite new to this technology so any helpful info would be much appreciated.Ultimately, in your option, what software in the current online / digital market place is the best’ for online webinars’?Many thanksStuart

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