Why Strategy Planning Is Key For Your Digital Marketing Now

Estimated Reading Time 11 minutes

3 things you can do right now to help your business grow. Devising a strategy for your digital marketing means taking advice from the right people at the right time.

 “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that – he’s gone!

Verbal Kint on Keyser Söze, The Usual Suspects

When I talk to CEOs or CMOs about the direction of their business, (as in life), they generally have a vague idea of what they want. Most business owners would not have an idea, to the nearest penny, what an exit strategy would look like, let alone what value they would achieve at the sale.

At best, most Directors hope for the best and normally have a round number of what their ideal goal would look like.

When talking to those that have exited or met their objectives through their business success, they will tell you that it is never a round number. More importantly, those that have successfully built those companies talk about brand perception and how marketing helped them achieve their objectives along with a joined-up strategic approach. They will also all tell you about the need for good advice.

The same is true of marketing. You cannot have a marketing plan that does not take into account the objectives of the overall business. If the business plans are unclear, the marketing plans will be unclear. Yet, day after day I come across the marketing function; sat in a silo in another area of the business. In many cases, merrily doing its own thing but somehow trying to add to the bottom line. Why?

So before we look at three thoughts on strategy planning, let’s look at the challenges and what strategic planning is.

The challenge of finding the right partner/agency

Dr Jennifer Kunst Ph.D. in her article, How to Break Repetitive Cycles, says:

“So much of what motivates and concerns us—hold us back and pushes us forward—lies beneath the surface of consciousness. We do our best to work with what we know: the tip of the glacier, the conscious mind. But powerful forces lie beneath the surface: the unconscious mind.”

In my humble 20 plus years’ experience, there are two fundamental flaws when a brand looks to engage with an agency. This is no one’s fault, but a well-trodden path that has been going on since someone came up with an idea to sell something to someone.

  1. The client is unclear about the brief and has created it with best intention based on their knowledge of their business market and the marketing environment. I.e. there is a perception of what they want to achieve. There is also a perception that the agency will understand that perception and make it happen.
  2. The agency will look at the brief, ask about budget and discuss fees. They will convince the client that they can achieve the (vague) brief on time, on budget and in many cases, they will smash the target.

So the relationship begins and is doomed for failure. In many cases, the client will have rejected other agencies that were both competent and skilled but may have settled on price, perception or the sales skills of the agency.

Why does this continue to happen and why do CEOs and CMOs make this mistake over and over again – going from a toxic relationship with one agency and flying into the arms of another, for it only to happen again. How do you break the cycle?

One answer may be found in strategy planning. If we can define what we want, then when we are looking to achieve our objectives we can at least focus on those that will help us achieve those

What is strategy planning?

Strategy planning is the process of defining a direction for your project or company. In turn, this leads to a clearer focus and making decisions on where to deploy the right investment and resources to pursue and achieve the goals. A strategy plan will be detailed and have a roadmap with milestones and objectives attached.

So what three things can we do to help us think about a way forward with our business?

1. Understand Your Why

When we have a purpose, we can achieve anything. Rather than looking for excuses, we find a way – we make things happen. If you do not feel like that about your business, you need to pivot and find your why.

In Simon Sinek’s now-legendary Ted Talk, he talks about the need to re-examine what your purpose is and why your company exists. Two takeaways are:

People Don’t Buy What You Do: They Buy Why You Do It – Sinek cites the difference between computer providers and Apple. There was no real ‘want’ to buy a laptop from Dell or HP but there was a real ‘desire’ to buy one from Apple. Both do the same thing – one has a story and a reason why.

You Need a Dream, But Have a Plan – strategy planning will not only help you find your ‘why’ but also your ‘how to’.

2. Diagnosing The Challenge

This is fundamentally the start point of the journey to building a cohesive strategy plan.

At Digital Clarity we have run a number of marketing diagnosis workshops. In these sessions, we look at all the various challenges and ask some rather detailed and searching questions.

Some of these questions include:

Understanding the business offering – Getting a clear overview of the business from multiple hierarchical levels.

Your product and service offering – Prioritisation of products and services. By really understanding the positioning and value of the products and services this can help us devise a robust plan which focuses on your goals more effectively.

Market and competition – Your perceived competitors and what the current marketplace looks like.

Target audience – What your ideal customers look like.

Company direction and future objectives – Understanding the short, mid and long term goals of your business.

Re-establishing goals and KPIs – All too often goals have been set once upon a time which is no longer relevant or fitting with how the business has evolved over time. We revisit those goals and KPI’s to establish if these are realistic and more importantly going to drive your business where it needs to be.

3. Assessing and planning for the opportunity

After we have established your why and have diagnosed the challenges, when done correctly, we will have a clearer idea of what the road map may look like in order to achieve your goals. Key indicators of what success will look like along the journey will also be determined.

Below is an example of how the flow may look.

Digital Clarity Marketing Consultancy process

Every company is different and there is no one size fits all. If you are interested in learning more about how a diagnosis workshop could help shape your business for the future, please get in touch with the team or contact Mel Hosegood on the contact form here.

Reggie James
Having built and sold various technology businesses over the years, Reggie heads the consultancy and commercial side of the business. Approachable and pragmatic, Reggie previously ran the first dot-com to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange as well as developing business strategies for brands whilst at AltaVista and Yahoo! before launching Digital Clarity. As a passive investor, he is also involved in the US public OTC markets.