If you want to achieve results, you need a strategy, an objective, and tactics. These three things are interrelated and form the foundation of a successful plan. Does your strategy truly flow from the objective and the tactics from the strategy?
What many marketers call a strategy are in fact, tactics. Let me give you an example:
A few years ago, there was a lot of buzz around the term "growth hacking." Some called it a strategy and even invented a special role - a growth hacker. But in reality, growth hacking is just a catch-all term for a variety of marketing tactics – social media, search engine optimization, data analysis – that businesses can use to grow rapidly and efficiently.
Marketers are often so fixated on tactics that they fail to see whether these tactics contribute to their objectives. In fact, they may not even clearly understand what the main objectives are.
Tactics without objectives and strategy are like shooting at a target without knowing what you're aiming at.
So before you get carried away with the latest marketing craze, ask yourself: Are these tactics leading us to where we want to go? And most importantly, do we know what we're aiming at in the first place?
Watch it instead:
The objective is the final destination or desired outcome of a specific marketing plan or campaign. It is what you are trying to achieve with your marketing efforts.
Remember that your objective should always be specific and measurable, not vague like wanting to increase sales. If you want to increase sales, be sure to specify how much you want to increase them by and over what time period, for which products, and targeting what audience.
Strategy is the how. It is the roadmap that guides your marketing efforts toward the desired outcome. It's your overall approach to achieving a specific goal.
Finally, tactics are the specific actions that turn the strategy into reality.
For example, Walmart used the "Everyday Low Prices" strategy to become the preferred shopping destination for budget-conscious consumers. To keep their prices low, they implemented an efficient supply chain management system and cost control measures. These tactics allowed them to reduce costs.
To build customer loyalty, Apple created an "integrated ecosystem" for its users. The company made its hardware and software work together seamlessly, created proprietary software like iTunes and the App Store, and offered services like iCloud. This strategy encouraged customers to buy Apple products for all their computing and entertainment needs.
When you're trying to reach a specific destination, you need to know two things: where you are now and where your target is. You have two ways of identifying your route: Start at your current location and work forward, or start at your target destination and trace backward.
According to research from the Korea University Business School, how you choose to plan your path to success can significantly influence the final outcome. Researchers have found that people who plan backward do better than those who plan forward.
Say, your goal is to launch a new company. If you think forward, you have a variety of options to choose from, and it takes a lot of work to make a decision. Now imagine, you've already launched a company. When you know where you want to end up, going back in time and making a list of the steps you would have taken to get there is much easier!
Backward planning makes your goal seem more attainable and gives you confidence that you will be able to make the right choices along the way.
In the game of chess, a technique known as "retrograde analysis" is used to plan moves. To determine your opponent's next move, you'll have to figure out what their last move was. And then you'll have to think about what move came before that.
In marketing, you can use a similar approach to plan and execute your strategy. By starting with your end goal in mind and working backward, you'll be able to determine the steps required to achieve it. This approach helps you align your tactics with your overall strategy, ensuring that each step you take is directed toward your desired outcome.
Let me give you an example from my work.
One of our Kaiiax clients, a UI/UX design agency, realized that the best clients for their services are companies that develop SaaS products. In an effort to attract new clients from this market, we decided that writing content about SaaS and promoting it on search would be the most effective strategy.
To propel the strategy forward, we used the following tactics:
This approach helped us eliminate the possibility of misaligned strategies and tactics, which freed up our time to focus on ideas that resonated with the target audience.
In just three months, we attracted clients from the SaaS market – a very short time considering how difficult it is to beat out competitors in this niche.
Read the case study: Lead Generation for a UI/UX Design Agency
A sound marketing strategy is not about having the most advanced technology or experimenting with the most recent hype in the field. Marketing is not as complicated as some people might make it seem. In reality, it's just a matter of using logic, common sense, and planning. It's not brain surgery. Next time you don't know how to proceed, work backward from your goal and start feeling more confident about your choices.
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