We need to put long term thinking back into marketing to ensure our businesses are built on solid foundations. If not, it could all blow up and come crashing down.
‘Strategy’ is all about knowing where you’re driving your business and having a clear, cohesive sense of direction; knowing where you are going means that your resources are focused and not spread too thinly.
Marketing has become too short term, tactical and dumbed down, particularly amongst small and medium sized businesses. Research shows, for example, that many small business leaders are so busy working ‘in the business’ that they spend less than an hour each month on strategy.
According to Smart Insights, 46% of businesses are doing digital marketing but do not have a defined strategy for their online marketing. A further 32% only have a maximum of annual plans, and only 12% plan more than 2 years ahead.
As managers, we often prefer action to thinking, with time pressures making us tick off the to-do list without knowing whether we are doing the right things that take the business in one direction.
Marketing experts say that we can blame some of this damaging lack of strategic thinking on a potent mix of lack of time, reduced marketing budgets and the proliferation of new digital communication channels like social media. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are free to use and accessible to anyone, but can encourage short term, tactical thinking. (They are also time consuming so not really ‘free’).
Marketing strategy defined
The CIM defines marketing strategy as: “A written plan that identifies the organisation’s marketing goals and explains how they can be achieved within a stated timeframe.”
I agree and encourage my clients to capture their strategy in a short, flexible, working plan, but it is even more important to ‘think strategically’ in your decisions and actions.
Developing a marketing strategy is about deciding how best to allocate your marketing budget, your people and other finite resources to achieve the marketing objectives.