Marketing: Oxygen and Water to Survive, Strategy and Tactics to Thrive


How to make the most of the seller’s journey and seller’s experience…

There is a lot of discussion and advice out there about the buyer’s journey and the customer experience. However; what about the seller’s journey? This is the experience we go through daily as we prepare to—and actually—engage with prospects and customers. At the most basic level, if any of us were going to go on a journey, we would need both oxygen and water. We would not sacrifice one for another. We would not get very far without one or the other. That is how I see the seller’s journey; we need both strategy and tactics.

Unfortunately I see a lot of marketers jump right into tactics with no strategy. They justify this approach by saying that they cannot waste months developing a strategy. They believe they are saving money by executing immediately and showing a quick win. I have even heard prospects tell me that “they just need to show activity.”

To me that is like getting into a car in Springfield, Massachusetts and deciding to drive across the country to a town you have never been to such as Mt. Pleasant, Michigan—with no GPS, road map, or other navigation help. You have your tactic (car) but you have no strategy (road map). Inevitably you are going to get frustrated as you run into traffic, detours, dead ends, missed exits, flat tires, etc. Yet I see marketers eager to spend money on gas, food, and hotels for this type of marketing campaign (trip) every day. You are definitely going to make progress by heading west, you are going to learn a few things along the way, and you may even eventually make it to your destination—but it is not an efficient way to spend your money or time. Have you gone down this road before?

I have also seen marketers go too far the other way and spend a significant amount of time and money on strategy with no tactics or execution. So getting back to our road trip, these folks will not get into the car for a long time. They spend all of their time mapping out the best or most efficient route—avoiding tolls, slow roads, mountains, construction projects, etc. They are risk averse. They want everything to be perfect. They may get to their destination some day but it will not be in an effective manner. Sound familiar?

Obviously neither of these extreme approaches is the best way for a seller’s journey. Marketing and Sales need both strategy and tactics to be effective and efficient. The smooth integration of strategy and tactics leads to greater benefits than just strategy or tactics alone. I call this combination “actionable planning.” Certainly you need to have a GPS or road map to route a journey for you. You also need a marketing or sales vehicle to help you achieve your goal of reaching your destination. But with actionable planning, you are also going to make sure you have a jack and a spare tire, roadside assistance help membership, extra blankets, water, flares, etc. so that you can adapt your plans along the way. Marketing and Sales need to apply actionable planning with campaigns as well—making adjustments if engagement and conversion rates are not where they need to be.

At this point, some readers may be saying, “I’m lost. What’s the difference between a strategy and a tactic?” Here’s a table of characteristics to help some of you separate a strategy from a tactic. (I got some of these characteristics from the writings of Jeremiah Owyang.) What characteristics would you add to the table?

Most marketers that I speak with lately are more comfortable with tactics. Strategy is often an afterthought or an omission. For these marketers, I recommend spending a little time developing strategies and a framework. As Erica Olsen points out, there are three levels of strategy that you need to develop to thrive:
• Corporate Level Strategy
• Business Unit Level Strategy
• Market Level Strategy

I would take the framework a bit further. I think you also need to have a Lead Management Level Strategy that drives all the content, qualification, tactics, and processes to generate, manage, and route leads from Marketing to Sales. But don’t spend so much time on strategy that you sacrifice tactics. Both strategy and tactics are needed for successful campaigns. As Sun Tzu, Brilliant Chinese General and Author of “The Art of War” once said:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Prepare for and enjoy the journey—and expect to learn and make changes along the way.

Artwork: Danny: Mt. Pleasant, MI 10″ x 8″, Hand cut road map, 2009

(Vice President of Marketing at Kwanzoo)
Artist: Nikki Rosato