Strategies are more valuable to small businesses than plans.

Independent businesses are feeling the pressure to increase their marketing budgets. As the media world continues to fragment audiences, consumers have become harder to reach without the time and skill to actively target them. These skills require independents to not only identify a unique audience but reach them effectively, and in ways that aren’t always easily understood.

 

Small Businesses and Independent Brands Must Do MOre

While small businesses continue to spend more and more on digital marketing, they still fall far behind larger competitors. In addition, the internet (read Google) doesn’t differentiate between small and large businesses, and all we can say to small companies trying and outspend their larger counterparts is good luck!

One of the many reasons expenses in digital can pile up quickly is because of the iterative process that the new digital marketing world requires for success.

It’s not easy to tame brand building, onsite and offsite SEO, sales automation, e-commerce conversions, email lists, and keep them all going at the same time. Consultants, guru’s and agencies have all contributed to the problem by executing on single-minded tactics and campaigns because that’s what is required keep the billable hours model going.

The answer has remained the same as it was before the digital age… developing a cohesive marketing strategy, instead of a plan that will inevitably change many times before a goal can be reached. A strategy can tie together a companies vision, capabilities, values and timeline into something actionable.

 

So What’s The Difference Between A Strategy And A Plan?

A plan is a list of actions steps and tactics you can or should take to reach the desired outcome (path). Developing a strategy involves deciding on the principles, assets, and broad goals that will allow you to adapt as you go without deciding on a new goal altogether (direction).  A strategy is what allows you to stay flexible without the need to change your core beliefs when the world around you changes.

Here’s a great example of the difference we’ve read at the CMOE

“A soccer team with a plan to score a goal might begin with a throw-in to another specific player. The ball would then be passed to a designated offensive player who would then be responsible for shooting the ball into the goal. The succession of moves would be deliberate and would not be adjusted when risks or obstacles to the plan were presented.

A soccer team with a strategy to score a goal might also begin a play with a throw-in one of a few different teammates. The main idea would then be to move the ball forward and pass to open offensive players who would then shoot the ball at the goal. The succession of moves would be open for adaptation and change if the ball were intercepted or if other players were open for receiving the ball.”

Producing a strategy can save you and your team a lot of time and energy by providing a framework for decision making and deciding what defines success from the onset.

Here are some links to help your business get started on a great strategy that will guide your future marketing efforts.

 

Creating A Successful Marketing Strategy

4 Principles of Marketing Strategy In The Digital Age

15 Marketing Strategies that Inspire Strategic Thinkers