The Clear Line of Sight Aligning Business Strategy and Marketing Tactics
Jim Everhart’s new book Brand Vision offers simple, easily implemented tools connecting a company’s marketing program to its business strategy. Two critical points:
Brand Vision shines a light on the five key stages that draw a clear line of sight aligning business strategy and marketing tactics:
Strategy | Audience | Creative | Campaigns | Measurement
Brand Vision starts with strategy. Admittedly, it’s a thorny subject. In all too many companies, strategy becomes a political football. Top management wants to dictate it. The ambitious try to own it. Salespeople think it’s about beating competitors on every pitch. New managers want to change it (whether it’s working or not).
The best strategies are concrete. Clear. Actionable! All too often, the opposite is true, with strategies that are obtuse, abstract, and confusing. No wonder so many business strategies are relegated to a shelf or desk drawer, never to be seen again.
That has to change and it’s critical that marketing not only plays a role in that process but drives it.
It’s important to know who you are talking to. Is it average consumers? Engineers? School administrators? Maintenance departments?
What are the audience’s concerns? Cost? Quality? Performance? Energy use? Safety?
And what if you’re dealing with a buying team that’s too large to fit in a minivan? And all with different hot buttons?
Your job is to communicate with all of them and address their concerns specifically. But that’s easier said than done.
Development of marketing creative is one of the most important steps in connecting business strategy to marketing tactics. It is where the wheels often come off, as everyone from the creative team to the executive board falls in love with a concept that is cool. Or hip. Or whatever. But misses the point of the strategy.
That’s the problem of falling in love with a story that doesn’t go where you need it to go. And that usually happens when the creative starts before the strategy is defined. As if you can rationalize the creative into the strategy. Or, worse yet, retrofit the strategy around the concept.
To be successful marketing programs need a story that’s aligned with the business strategy, connected to audience hot buttons, and differentiated from the competition.
Marketing managers are assailed continuously by one sales rep or another touting the benefits of the latest tool or technique. Twitter or Instagram? Marketing automation or programmatic advertising? Paid search or e-newsletter ad?
Who is right?
The answer is, of course, they are all right—sort of. The different tools do work, do help produce sales in many cases.
But they are all wrong in one crucial aspect: None of these tools work alone. They need to be connected. Campaigns are the way to do that.
The preceding four parts of the Brand Vision process painstakingly build that clear line of sight between business strategy and marketing tactics. Step by step, we discussed strategy, the audience, messaging, and campaigns.
But it’s the final stage, measurement, where the process pays off for marketers.
First, by giving you the tools to optimize your campaigns, Brand Vision allows you to continuously improve both the quality of your campaign and the results it achieves. And second, by helping you determine the return on your company’s marketing investment, Brand Vision allows you to demonstrate that marketing can be both tactical and strategic.
Jim Everhart has spent more than four decades in the marketing industry, most of it at Godfrey Advertising, one of the largest business-to-business marketing agencies in the U.S. He is a freelance strategist and writer, working with corporations and agencies to develop marketing communications tactics and campaigns.
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