“We Don’t Need All That Strategic Thinking.” (or) “Why Doesn’t Our Marketing Work?”

Recently, I met with a prospective client of a large, regional organization, who seemed eager to re-energize her company’s corporate brand. “We really need to develop a new platform for all of our positioning and messaging,” she said. “Internally and externally, we’re confused. We need to define our direction and make a big, bold statement […]

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Recently, I met with a prospective client of a large, regional organization, who seemed eager to re-energize her company’s corporate brand. “We really need to develop a new platform for all of our positioning and messaging,” she said. “Internally and externally, we’re confused. We need to define our direction and make a big, bold statement about who we are, and why people should care.”

Great, I thought. Here’s company that not only recognizes its brand/marketing problem, but has a relatively clear understanding of what it needs.

I proceeded to take this person through our approach and some examples of successful work we had done in similar situations. We parted our meeting with the understanding that I would deliver a proposed approach and estimate in the following few days.

Fast forward three days. The prospect, now with our proposed approach in hand, has called to discuss its contents. “You know, I listened to you explain your process, but now that I see it in writing, that’s a lot of work and a lot to pay just for you to come up with some thinking.”

[Silent pause.]

“I was kind of hoping you’d just give me a cost for coming up with a few taglines, or something.”

“Those few taglines that you want require the upfront work I have outlined,” said I. “Additionally, you need quite a bit more than a few taglines. You need a positioning and messaging platform and system that grounds all of your communications efforts. On top of that, you don’t have (and desperately need) a clear marketing strategy and direction.”

“We do have a strategy,” said my prospect. “We want to increase sales by 10% next year.” (I’m not kidding.)

To which I kindly responded, “That is an objective — one against which a strategy can be built. How are you going to achieve it,” I asked. “I guess we’ll need to talk about that internally,” she said. “Right now, I just need some taglines.”

* * *

Strategy is the thinking that answers and explains ‘how’ something will be accomplished — how a goal or objective will be achieved.

Insightful marketing strategy — based upon clear business and marketing objectives, marketing research (however limited) and conclusions born from an experienced process — is the single most lacking component of marketing today. (It also happens to be the core business of our firm.) What passes for strategy today, is often shameful, and all too often, ineffective.

To learn more about Cohesion, a brand agency with a successful track record in developing and managing brands and longterm marketing strategies, please visit Cohesion.

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