I consider myself a pretty good cook. To tell the truth, I sometimes overestimate my cooking ability and that’s when things typically don’t work out so well.
I’m not really one to use recipes, tending instead to rely on my perceived skill or memory of how things are prepared or how much of what goes into which dish. This serves me well, most of the time, but it only really needs one butter cake coming out of the oven looking more like a pancake to realise that without a good recipe you’re really just hoping for the best.
Now think about how you’re approaching your digital marketing. Are you following a recipe? Or just throwing a bunch of ingredients together and hoping for the best?
The Art of War
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general and philosopher who lived over 2,000 years ago and is most known for writing ‘The Art of War’. Now clearly, he was writing with respect to military tactics but what’s really valuable about his writings is the lessons we can learn to apply to modern day business and marketing.
Sun Tsu wrote;
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
For me, this quote sums up beautifully one of the main issues I see many businesses make with their digital marketing. So often we see the tactics without strategy approach which only results in noise online… and ultimately defeat.
Let me explain.
Tactics without Strategy
We’ve all been guilty of it numerous times in our business, treating our digital marketing from a solely tactical perspective. Throwing out tactic after tactic, flitting from one tactic to the next, thinking tactics rather than strategy and effectively failing to look at the bigger picture.
Post a status update (tactic)
Create a quote card for instagram (tactic)
Email out a newsletter (tactic)
Upload a photo (tactic)
Make a video (tactic)
The result… it all just gets noisy and we have no idea if our tactics are actually achieving anything. In fact, we have no idea really of what we want to achieve anyway!
Strategy without Tactics
The other side of the proverbial coin here is to be too focussed on defining a strategy and never getting around to implementing any tactics. As Sun Tsu says, this is the slowest route to victory. In fact, I’d go one step further and say you’ll likely never get to a victory if you fail to implement the tactics.
Where I see this happening often in digital marketing is businesses who have worked with an agency to define and document a detailed digital marketing strategy plan however they fail to take the necessary steps in their team to ensure the plan is actually actioned, and the marketing content rolled out. All bark… no bite.
The truth is that an effective strategy is basically useless without the method to implement it – tactics. On the other hand, tactics without a strategy are often just consuming time, resources and space with little understanding of how (or if) to see a return on investment.
Which comes first?
As you now understand strategy and tactics are intrinsically related and one without the other simply fails to be effective. However I believe that defining the strategy is often the best place to start.
Stephen Covey wrote in his seminal book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’;
“Begin with the end in mind”
Effective online video strategy starts by knowing what it is that you want to achieve. The goals for your marketing should be the foundation of your strategy and directly inform the tactics that you implement (or the content) within it. When it comes to online video too often businesses are approaching the creation of content with little thought to an overarching strategy. Instead simply throwing ideas together, producing pieces of video content that may look great, but fail to align with their intended goal and with little consideration of how to even measure the success of the campaign.
In reality this sort of digital marketing is exactly like trying to bake without a recipe. You may think you’ve got the ingredients right and are using them in the right way, but what you end up with is far from tasty.
Tell me in the comments… how do you approach strategy in your digital marketing?