Strategy & Tactics - If you think you may be suffering… | ...Gasp!

Strategy & Tactics

If you think you may be suffering from ‘Channel Vision’ read on…

The World Cup may have kicked off, but it’s not words of advice for Gareth Southgate that The Blogfather’s bringing to the table. It’s something for you. Assuming you want to do marketing the right way and don’t follow the herd. Baa.

People are gorging themselves on chasing Likes, Shares, Tweets etc., chasing the short-term hit.

First piece of advice, straight off the bat. If you see a ‘Social Media marketing agency’ avoid them.

Why? Because Social Media marketing doesn’t exist.

‘What the Dickens are you talking about, you complete idiot?’ I hear you say.

So, to elucidate.

Social Media is a marketing channel. Or a collection of channels, to be more precise. It is but one way that your marketing strategy can bear fruit and come into contact with the peeps you hope to sell some of your wares to.

OK, I’m probably being a bit naughty, there are no doubt some capable Social Media specialist agencies around that could do a job for you, but the point is social media should not be your starting point.

There is far, far too much channel-first, short-terminism thinking around at the moment. Don’t get sucked in by the latest technological and marketing trends. People are gorging themselves on chasing Likes, Shares, Tweets, etc., chasing the short-term hit.

‘Let’s do something on Snapchat, all the kids are on it.’

‘But…we produce stairlifts?’

‘Who gives a shit?! Those Geo-filters are cool.’

At Gasp we believe in 3 steps:
1) Research/Diagnosis 2) Strategy 3) Tactics. In that order.
Why limit yourself in regards to the tools at your disposal? It would be like going to see a dentist for a twisted ankle.

We also believe in the collective power of people. A few of the Gasp team were lucky enough to go to Nudgestock recently (the ‘Glastonbury’ of Behavioural Science), and heard some great talks, including one from John Kay - one of Britain’s leading economists. He made the thought-provoking point that no single human being knows how to build an AirBus from start to finish. Approx 10,000 humans do, however. It’s all about collective knowledge.

So set aside some quiet time with a few knowledgeable heads for Strategy, and take the long view. By Strategy, we are actually talking business/corporate strategy alongside branding strategy, residing above the plane of purely marketing strategy. Any marketer with hopes of proving their worth needs to have an understanding of the overall context and business strategy for a company’s future. They need to know where they fit in the grand scheme of things, so they can start thinking of cool ideas that contribute effectively to the end goals.

A chap we like very much, JP Hanson, knows his onions when it comes to Strategy. He is the CEO of the Rouser agency who recently published their manifesto for 2018. We strongly suggest you go have a good read of it on a lunch break, as there is a lot of great stuff in there, and it echoes a lot of our own beliefs at Gasp.

It’s one thing to say Strategy is important, but what are we actually talking about?

Put simply, strategy is a general framework that gives guidance for actions to be taken, all with the aim of achieving objectives.

A shade vague maybe, but to delve further, here is a great piece of insight into Strategy. In the words of the influential professor Michael Porter, the essence of strategy is deciding what NOT to do.

This piece of advice has been taken on and advocated by some Gasp heroes, including Mark Ritson: “Every company is going to do something. But what often defines a successful strategy is deciding what the firm will not do and focusing on a much smaller set of activities for strategic success.”

So less is more. A cracking example is last month’s Starbucks/Nestle deal, something Mark has blogged on. Starbucks realised that they don’t have much experience of selling through wholesalers and, therefore, into big retail chains. With this deal, Starbucks will get the profits but none of the bother that goes with the retail grocery market, by giving this part of the business all over to Nestlé.

We do love a bit of Ritson at Gasp. Here is his great summation of Strategy: “A shit strategy takes a day to come up with and then requires a workshop and a 70-page presentation to explain. A great one takes months of thinking but never needs more than a page, usually half a page, to explain to anyone.”

The guys at Rouser state that a marketing strategy, “should typically include research, analysis and segmentation of the market, selection of segments to target (and segments to ignore), identification of specific and actionable objectives and, finally, selection of tactics that best can achieve them.”

Once you have nailed your Strategy, you need to start thinking about Tactics; the tools with which you are going to execute your strategy.

Marketing Strategy is (or at least should be) inherently media neutral. This is largely why we at Gasp are proudly media neutral. Why limit yourself in regards to the tools at your disposal? It would be like going to see a dentist for a twisted ankle. You need a proper diagnosis first, then Strategy (Treatment/Management), and finally the Tactics (Rest, Ice, Elevation).

"...Outdoor will soon make more from digital than it does from print, does that make it a digital media? It’s just nonsense." Mark Ritson

A quote that is something of a mantra for us at Gasp is this one from Bernard Baruch:

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

To only have one or two tools, only one or two channels, can be very debilitating.

You need agility. But there is a misunderstanding of what agility is. It means you have a Strategy and brand that, no matter what channel you execute in, your brand retains its integrity, core values and message; be it in a Facebook post or a huge billboard advert. Agility is not reacting to reading an article on VR by immediately doing it because it seems cool and current.

There is robust evidence for multi-channel campaigns being more effective than single-channel ones, and what’s more, any good idea, any good Strategy, should be robust yet agile enough to permeate through any channel.

You’ve probably had someone pitch to you that the old, traditional ways of marketing and advertising are dead. ‘It’s all about digital’. Don’t listen to them. The ‘ways’ (Tactics) evolve as they should, but to suggest that Strategy is dead is insane. Its significance is being ignored, absolutely, but that’s the problem. TV is just as effective as it ever was, for example. And isn’t TV somewhat digital in nature these days anyway? The digital/traditional division is blurred and unhelpful. Again, start with a cracking idea, in keeping with your over-arching Strategy and brand, and let the rest flow from there.

Here’s another pearler of a quote from Ritson: “These people who are constantly banging on about digital versus traditional, they’re missing the point. We’ve had Facebook now for 10 years, so at what point does it become traditional? Outdoor will soon make more from digital than it does from print, does that make it a digital media? It’s just nonsense. All we ever hear is that to innovate you have to be digital and that’s another great untruth. It doesn’t and it’s a total load of crap. Innovation is innovation. People with the word ‘digital’ in their title are fundamentally out of touch because that means nothing anymore.”

So remember, there is no ‘digital marketing’, nor ‘traditional marketing’. There is only Marketing.

Striking a balance between short-term activation and long-term brand-building is also of vital importance.

There is an iconic piece of literature in the industry, by Les Binet and Peter Field, entitled; “The Long and the Short of it”, which no doubt all the dudes mentioned above are familiar with. Binet and Field conclude that a good split is to spend around 60 % of budget/resource on brand, and 40 % on activation. Or 60 % on long-term and 40 % on short term.

I know I’ve banged on a lot about Strategy here, but that’s because we do love to talk Strategy at Gasp, and know its importance, to any business. You’re more than welcome to give us a bell if you want to chat further. But in the meantime, maybe think twice about creating that Snapchat account.

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