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Selling Strategy, Are we there yet?

Recently, an age old debate has crept its way into dinner party discussions, whiskey induced pontificating and boardroom strokey-beard sessions – How do you sell strategy?

We all think it is so tough to sell the value of strategy. But is it? Or does it just need to bebetter defined or explained a little better? Here’s my thought: Imagine you want to drive from Cape Town to Jozi. You want to get there quickly, cost effectively, directly and maybe see some cool stuff along the way. How do you do this? Perhaps, you venture off to Canal Walk and purchase for yourself one times GPS. You plug it in and program the shortest route along the N1, identify where you will need to refuel, where would be a nice place to stop for lunch and maybe even some cool chats with the locals. You then check the tyres, fill up, pack a suitcase, maybe find someone to travel with and off you go…

Imagine if you didn’t and headed off on the N2 with half a tank of fuel and a spare tyre you didn’t know was flat, hoping to make it to Jozi…?

It is odd how we all so readily we accept strategy, or planning as an obvious navigation tool in our everyday lives, yet when it comes to our brand, the largest asset we rely on for business success, we are so comfortable with winging it!?Do I need to explain the value of strategy in how we take our businesses to market on the road to profitability!? We strategists should have the easiest job in the world in marketing ourselves. Companies spend billions on padkos, flashy rims and pimped engines on their brand road trips, but rarely buy a reliable GPS. As a result they’re never quite sure where they are going or even why they are going at all – but they do look very stylish going no-where to the faint whining from the financial director asking, “Are we there yet…?”

Crazy. Strategists, like GPS’s don’t cost that much and after an initial investment everything else you spend money lasts longer and for the FD, you get to the destination of success that little bit quicker.

We spend so much time considering whether our B2B or B2C UX has sufficient SEO and campaigns in ATL, BTL and TTL, or whether our CMS is compatible with our CRM or perhaps we need to fire the APS because the API gives us a 404 and we now can’t fly our DM campaign which has a rad QR which will drive traffic to our IP, but the ISP buggered the CPanel so now we have to go with a fall back print campaign which fortunately will answer to the KPI of being measured by AMPS… WTF?

Social media, mobile, web – all these things are merely enablers.

Enablers for content that should be designed to solicit a specific response. Further, if all these responses are not done with the logic of economy of scale and momentum, then what’s the point? In other words if there is not a bigger compass, a brand GPS if you will, driving these decisions about where to go and where to turn, then how on earth do you know if we have reached our destination, let alone identify what the destination is in the first place?

Somehow we have mistaken knowing our SMM from our VM as the answer to basic modern marketing. The basics however have never been the answers. The basics will always be questions. Questions like “why are we doing this?”, “How do we measure it?” and, “How does it aid the bigger objective?”

The value of strategy is easy to understand, why it is so often overlooked is sadly not so easy to understand. Maybe it is just the ubiquitous case of the cobbler’s kids without any shoes and we as strategists need to turn our skills on ourselves for a bit. I think I’m off to buy my own Strategy GPS to find out. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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