Time to Sharpen the Axe

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln
 

Most small business owners know that without marketing it’s more than likely their business will fail. While many are comfortable investing money to promote their business, many do not invest the proper time to define a clear marketing strategy for their business. In other words, they fail to sharpen their axe.
 

Instead, in many cases, the business owners proceed straight to implementing marketing tactics, often on an activity by activity basis with little thought as to how those tactics will support their medium or long term goals.
 

However, there is a vital difference between marketing tactics and marketing strategy. In simple terms, a strategy is a plan for reaching a specific goal, while a tactic is the means engaged to execute the strategy which will ultimately deliver the goal.
 
For example your goal may be ‘to be the product of choice in xyz category at gourmet supermarkets’.
 
A strategy to achieving this goal may be to ‘increase your brand presence at individual store level’.
 
Some marketing tactics to execute this strategy may include:
a) Hiring end of aisle display space
B) Hosting tastings instore
C) Providing stores with innovative and creative point of sale (that meet their POS requirements)
D) Running three specific retailer promotions throughout the year
 
Unfortunately too many businesses, jump right to implementing tactical marketing activities and conduct these in what could be best described as an ‘experimental method’. That is, they engage numerous, standalone marketing activities, often targeting fairly broad demographics, via various channels and simply see what works.
The idea of this approach is to simply continue investing in varied marketing activities until you find the ones that work, and then repeat these. Unfortunately, it’s often hit and miss and can lead to a cycle of ‘Start, Stop, Start’ marketing.
 
In the famous words of retailer John Wanamaker—
 
”Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
 
A marketing strategy provides the direction for your marketing activities and helps you stay on course. It’s the glue which make all the pieces work together. It provides confidence, simplifying decision making and ultimately saves you both time and money. If facilitates your ability to apply your marketing budget to the correct half of the Wanamaker equation—those that are receptive to and value your message.
 
While it may be tempting to brainstorm some ideas for marketing tactics for the coming year, until you articulate your overall marketing goals, and strategies, you’ll be hard pressed to understand whether those marketing tactics will really help to move your business forward in a sustainable manner.
 
Not sure if your marketing strategy is sharp enough? Call us for a no obligation chat today – we’ll be happy to help.

Posted in Blog