Don’t Mistake Tactics For Strategy

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Some people are under the misconception that the Trojan horse was a strategy. In this Vlog, Grant explains that the horse was a tactic and how that relates to your marketing.

It makes a great story how the Greek army defeated the city of Troy. They left a hollowed-out horse outside the city gates and the Trojans – thinking it was a victory trophy to the goddess of war, Athena – brought it into the city. That night the Greek soldiers came out of the hollowed-out horse and opened the city gates to let the rest of their army in. The rest, of course, is history and the city of Troy was left in ruins.

Some people are under the misconception that the horse was a strategy, but the horse was a tactic. The Greeks had laid siege to the city of Troy for 10 years and they realised it just wasn’t working, so they decided to change strategy. The strategy was, that the only way they could defeat the city of Troy was within the city, not from outside of it. Once they’d made that strategic leap, the tactic was: ‘How do we get inside the city?’ And that’s when the idea of the horse was developed.

People tend to talk about tactics because they’re tangible and easy to understand. So people would talk about a ‘great social media post’ or a ‘brilliant TV ad’ or an ‘amazing direct mail campaign’, all of which can capture the imagination, but those ideas will only be developed within a strategy.

Marketing is a strategic discipline and without coming up with a really robust strategy, it is very unlikely you’ll ever come up with ideas and tactics that will really work.

So what are the sorts of questions you need to ask to inform a marketing strategy? Well, one of them is what are the problems that you solve for your customers? Let me give you an example. A high class restaurant clearly doesn’t solve the problem of ‘I’m hungry tonight’. The sorts of problems that are top class restaurant solves is; How do I mark a special occasion? How do I make someone feel loved? Or how can I create lasting memories?

The second question you need to ask yourself is; Who am I solving these challenges for? In other words, who is my target audience? For example, a high class restaurant could be targeting business people who want to leave lasting impressions with prospects and clients and make sure that they understand they really want their business. Or it could be couples who are romantically involved, who wants to make sure that the other one knows how special they are and how loved and nurtured they are.

Or alternatively, the restaurant could be targeting people who are having birthdays to make it the ultimate destination to mark that special occasion with friends, family and colleagues.

Another question that needs to be answered in a strategy is how do I want my customers to feel? In other words, what is the emotional deliverable of your product or service?

If you’re an accountancy firm, do you need to make sure that your clients feel really reassured and looked after? If you’re a hotel, are you selling luxury and indulgence? Strategy tends to be less easy to talk about. Would you rather recant tales of your hollowed-out horse or talk about your change in strategic direction?

However, marketing rarely goes wrong because people don’t get the tactical execution right. More often than not, it doesn’t work because people aren’t coming up with tactics within a really robust preconceived strategy.

There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English

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  1. Food for thought ?people forget details but always remember how they were made to feel – great marketing strategy

    1. Author

      I absolutely agree Yvette. Thank you for your comments

  2. Well argued…particularly need to know emotional deliverable(s). Too many still stuck at Features and Benefits stage

    1. Author

      I absolutely agree Chris. Without understanding the emotional deliverable I think marketing will produce underwhelming results.

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