An ongoing debate exists in the marketing industry that begs the following question: Is it more important to devise a marketing strategy or to execute actions to achieve your goal?
There are good arguments all the way around this debate, but when it comes down to it, the answer is really... neither. You simply can't be successful without either one.
The problem, however, is that many companies, consultants, and marketers do a lot of "theory" and talking, without taking it beyond that. They can sit around and discuss all the latest marketing tactics and even try to put them in place, but in the end, it's all for naught if they don't develop a solid strategy and execution steps to make it work for their business.
It's like school-you can sit in a classroom and learn all the information and theory that is taught to you, but what good is it unless you can apply it in real life? We all know this, but as marketers, we forget that it works the same way. Understanding theory is helpful, but you need to know how to develop a strategy and execute that strategy to actually see results.
From Marketing Theory to Strategy & Execution
Successful marketing is really a 3-part process that involves following sound marketing theories, creating a detailed strategy, and executing that strategy. Let's look at each of these steps in more detail.
Follow Sound Marketing Theory
Marketing theory is the science of marketing. It's the "rules" and guidelines we follow. It's the methods we use to form our strategies.
Marketing theory can lead to strong marketing strategies, but too often, we get stuck on the former. We might feel as though we are getting things done by talking and learning about various types of marketing theory, but in essence, we are just spinning our wheels.
Mike Roach, CEO of CGI, was quoted as saying, "Strategy without execution is a hallucination!" If that is true, then marketing theory without strategy and execution is psychosis. It'll get you nowhere.
Create a Detailed Marketing Strategy
According to strategy-business.com, a strategy is "the series of choices you make on where to play and how to win to maximize long-term value. Execution is producing results in the context of those choices."
Your marketing strategy is your map. It's like a light shining in the darkness, guiding every decision you make. Without it, you're driving in the dark without headlights, expecting to find your destination and not crash in the process.
Your strategy shines a light on the road ahead, making it clear when you could veer off a path and driving you forward in the right direction. With it, you're able to work your way around your obstacles, follow your objectives, and illuminate the choices that will get you to your goal efficiently.
According to the Small Business Association, only about 50% of small businesses succeed within the first 5 years. It's not that businesses don't have some sort of plan in place; the problem is that most small businesses don't have a clue how to map out a plan that will lead them to success.
They don't have a strategy that is based on sound evidence, data, and experience. Instead, they read a lot of marketing theory and try a lot of different things.