When strategy gets in the way of business strategy alignment

The term strategy is used a lot in marketing and especially in agencies. There is nothing wrong with the word, it is more the application of the word that can be problematic to clearly articulating what is meant, required or expected.

strat·e·gy Noun/ˈstratəjē/
A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.


The issue is that there are many different types of strategy: business, marketing, channel, advertising, pr, channel, media etc etc etc.

This problem especially arises when a marketer is talking about the ability of their agencies to develop and deliver strategy. Often the perceived strategic failure of the agency is because the type of strategy the client requires is not a core skill of the agency. Where the marketer wants marketing strategy, including pricing and distribution, often the agency provide communications strategy as this is the core competency. But the differences between these is rarely defined.

My friend, Shawn Callahan at Anecdote, recently recommended the book “Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters” by Richard Rumelt.

Shawn tells me that the book defines a strategy as a solution. On this basis an excellent rule of thumb to work out what type of strategy you need is to define the category of problem you have.

eg. If you have a pricing problem you need a pricing solution so you need a pricing strategy. If you have a media problem you need a media solution so you need a media strategy.

But what if you do not know what type of problem you have?

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About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com
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2 Responses to When strategy gets in the way of business strategy alignment

  1. Michael says:

    For Michael Porter strategy is about competition. No competition – no strategy needed. Thinking about the competitive pressure you face and whether your pricing/media/or etc strategy will actually solve those is critical to that strategy being successful in delivering sustained shareholder value.

    • Darren Woolley says:

      Michael, certainly you need a strategy to counter competitive pressure, but the best strategy here is to reposition your offering / product / brand or service so that it no longer has competitors – Blue Ocean Strategy.

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