Does This Need More Strategy?
“This needs more strategy.”
That’s a phrase I hear at least once a day. Whether it’s coming from clients or peers, strategy is the kind of word everybody loves to volley around. Everyone wants it, but few know how to articulate what they’re actually looking for when they ask for it. As marketers, it can paralyze us. We want strategy. We need strategy. And we know when it’s missing.
Before we even get into it, let’s start by defining strategy. Strategy can be as simple as setting a plan of action to reach a goal. So when someone asks for strategy, all they’re really asking for is a way to get things done. Seems simple enough. But the reality is that it’s much more complicated than that. That’s where I come in.
It’s me, hi. I’m a marketing strategist. And I’m here to tell you that the strength of a strategy comes not just in the plan, but in the work it takes to get there. My friends and colleagues equally love and hate me because I’m what they call the “Yeah, but why?” girl. It’s not enough for me to just be told something, I have to know Why? And then maybe Why? again. Because I want to get to the root of it all. To completely understand the ask, I need to understand everything that goes into it, and then when I think I understand it all, I need to go off and do some research of my own, just to get a few more whys answered. Because my job as a marketing strategist isn’t to just shape the strategy, it’s to shape the thinking that shapes the strategy—and that’s an important distinction.
Having a plan of action is great, but to get there, you need to understand the business. And to do that, I ask a lot of questions, like:
- What’s the business goal? Why?
- What problem are we trying to solve for? Why?
- What advantages does our product or service have over others? And why are we better suited?
The next most important part: Understanding the audience. I’ll think about things like:
- Who are we talking to? Why?
- How would our product solve their problem? Why?
- What motivates that group of people? Why?
- How do they consume things? Why?
- Why do they act? And what do they act for?
Taking those extra steps to understand the audience will almost always lead to a valuable insight that’s going to enlighten the path to strategy. And once I understand the audience, I can start to determine the real request: What we are trying to get our target to do? And then: By what means are we going to get them to do that thing? And because I’ve taken the time to understand my audience’s motivation, an underlying why defines the path I’m starting to set for my team.
For example, this is what I worked from to write this blog today:
Get readers of Provoke who want smarter strategies
To crave and appreciate the psychology that makes consumers act
By showing how strategic thinking can unlock insights that move people
Why? Because smarter thinking inspires more actionable work.
Am I delivering on my promise?
Anyone can (and should) be a strategist. In marketing, it’s a team effort, the catch being that everyone must be a willing participant for it to work. But it takes an inquisitive mind to be a strategic thinker. “Yeah, but why?” should be a strategist’s mantra. And with every question asked, I get closer to that little nugget of truth that’s going to provide my team with the inspiration that will guide the path for strategy—and hopefully new creative ideas. That’s why.
Need help with your marketing strategy? Start with talking to a marketing strategist by contacting us today!
Arica Marfoglia is DS+CO’s marketing strategist.