November 28, 2018

The Impact of Business Strategy on Marketing Tactics

Steve Patti | CMO & Entrepreneur, GreenFig Instructor
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Steve Patti | CMO & Entrepreneur, GreenFig Instructor

The Impact of Business Strategy on Marketing Tactics

One of the things that students in GreenFig’s Module 2 are presented with is the idea that their tactical marketing campaigns should align to their marketing strategy, and that any marketing strategy should support their company’s business strategy.

At first glance, the temptation might be to ask “what does business strategy have to do with learning digital marketing skills and learning to build effective campaigns?” If we take a closer look at what a good business strategy does, it becomes more evident why we’ve chosen to link business strategy to marketing tactics. One of my favorite strategy influencers is Roger Martin and he wrote a very important book entitled Playing to Win, in partnership with former Proctor & Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley. Among other distinctions, Roger placed 3rd on the Thinkers50 list, a bi-annual ranking of the most influential global business thinkers. In the book, Roger states “Strategy is about making specific choices to win in the marketplace. It requires making explicit choices to do some things and not others. Too often CEO’s will allow what’s urgent to crowd out what’s really important. It’s wrong to define strategy as following best practices. This creates sameness and sameness is not a strategy. It’s a recipe for mediocrity.”

If you are a marketing professional trying to generate leads and build a brand, then you need to be trying to win (versus your competitors). You need to “win” the attention span of your ideal customers, you need to “win” the competition for ad and email clicks, you need to “win” the attention span of busy buyer personas, and you need to “win” the active evaluation stage of the buyer journey in which buyers pick your solution versus those of your competitors. In the book Playing to Win, Roger provides a simple framework of 5 questions that must be answered to define a business strategy — and thus, guide marketing choices.

Question #1: What is our winning aspiration?

A.G. Lafley states “If you aren’t trying to win, if you’re just trying to participate, you are wasting the time of your people and the money of your investors. A company has to define its purpose strategically and decide what specific victories would lead to its deal future.”

Question #2: Where are we going to play?

You can’t sell to everyone, everywhere - and not every prospect represents an ideal customer. You have to narrow the field by defining your ideal customer profiles (Firmagraphics, psychographics,

Question #3: How are we going to win?

The answer to this question is connected to question #2 (above). Specifically, it requires a company to identify how they are going to create a competitive advantage (cost leadership or differentiation) and thus, deliver superior financial returns within the “where” they are playing. Choosing differentiation requires a deep understanding of customer needs, products that customers adore and the ability to build long-term loyalty. In Module 2, we discuss communicating your company’s value propositions (both in terms of business value and personal value) and this is detailed more in a study by Google and CEB entitled “From Promotion to Emotion.”

Question #4: What core competencies do we need to win?

This question forces companies to think about how they will configure activities to bring the “Where to Play” and “How to Win” choices to life. Simply claiming differentiation isn’t enough - you have to deliver it. As crazy as it sounds, it means companies have to become great at the things they say that are great at delivering. For marketers, it can be challenging to create effective marketing campaigns touting superior products, superior customer experience, or superior service if your company doesn’t deliver it. This is why it is important to be sober about what a company is really good at so the marketers can communicate it in an authentic way. The antithesis of this is what many customers have experienced for years: customer experiences that don’t live up to the marketing hype. If you are a marketer seeking to make a job change, one of the things to evaluate is how well a company actually delivers on what it says is its competitive advantage. Otherwise, your job is going to be miserable in trying to “put lipstick on a pig” in your marketing campaigns.

Question #5: What management systems and metrics do we need to win?

How do you know if you are winning? This is where systems and metrics come into play. Companies need systems and metrics to help them stay focused and let them know how well they are tracking against business goals. As a marketer, you need technology tools and dashboards to help you: Are you connecting and engaging your ICPs? Are you converting engagement into leads? How well do your leads convert to CRM opportunities? How well do your opportunities convert into sales and what is the average revenue/profit of these sales? What are your customer acquisition costs and how do they compare to customer lifetime value? Throughout the Greenfig program, cohorts are exposed to tools and metrics used by modern marketers, including Google Analytics, Marketo email automation and a variety of other frameworks and KPIs.

Without defined target segments, a real competitive advantage (and clearly articulated value propositions), competency at delivering the value propositions and systems/metrics to reveal whether the marketing is effective — the marketer’s role is made difficult. Even an entry level marketing analyst seeking to create basic campaigns will find themselves at a disadvantage if their employer cannot answer these five basic questions.


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