Managing Marketing – what makes a good strategy?

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Jeff Cooper & Ashton Bishop, Senior Partners at Step Change talk with Darren on the meaning of strategy and why it has become so confused in marketing and advertising. In a category where everyone appears to be a strategic expert, they differentiate between strategy and simply planning.

Jeffrey Cooper

Ashton Bishop

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to the podcast. Very special day because we’ve actually got two guests here. We’ve got Jeff Cooper who’s Senior Partner and Ashton Bishop who’s Head of Strategy, both from Step Change. Welcome guys.

Jeff:

G’day Darren.

Ashton:

Hi Darren.

Darren:

The reason I wanted to catch up and especially with you Ash, but also you Jeffrey, is that, you are the creators of Stump the Strategist and I’ve participated a few times and really enjoyed it. It got me thinking about the term ‘strategy’ and how debased strategy has become in business because everyone seems to be a strategist and you’re Head of Strategy so who better to ask Ash? What do you think about the term ‘strategy’?

Everyone’s a strategist

Ashton:

I think we’re having strategic planning meetings, strategic away day, the strategist is on probably more business cards than ever before and I think it’s so ubiquitous, it’s just losing meaning and relevance. And I keep asking business owners and teams and marketers for a definition and it gets awkward and there’s this silence.

Darren:

Yeah. I’ve seen that silence, but Jeff, from your experience, why do people have this trouble with strategy?

Jeff:

It’s one of those things, a little bit like social media was over the last couple of years is that we just expect we should have it and have it in spades. And whenever something’s trending, as the term strategist is, then people believe they should have it and if they don’t have a lot of that within their business they’re probably doing something wrong.

But of course, just like anything else, there is a right mix and not everyone needs it all the time. And so it’s about having some discipline in how you use strategy and just being really focused and intentional about how and when you engage it because what we’re seeing at the moment is that most strategists out there are in fact channel or tactic specialists who are there to recommend and promote that particular channel rather than give an across the board, global view on strategy.

Darren:

So what I’m hearing is, not all strategy is created equal because clearly if there’s lots of different strategists and lots of different strategy, are they all equal?

Ashton:

I think that’s where it’s getting lost and to pick up on a point that Jeff put down, implementation planning is being substituted for strategy. And I think when we go back to, right back up to 50,000 feet the need for strategy and where it started, so strategy obviously evolved out of the military context of when you’re outnumbered, what do you do?

So strategy arises with an understanding first and foremost that the need for strategy says resources are limited. Time, dollars, but most importantly, focus. So when time, dollars and focus are limited, we turn to strategy as a how to achieve an objective or a purpose. But most importantly, where to apply limited resources for disproportionate results.

Good strategy is about what you don’t do

Darren:

That’s really interesting because you’re alluding there to military and also limited resources goes straight to Sun Tzu, Art of War, the idea that strategy is about what you don’t do, rather than what you do do, because you know, we could do anything, couldn’t we?

Ashton:

Well that’s the Job’s quote out at the moment, the most over quoted man on the planet, just past Einstein. But he says, “I’m so incredibly proud of everything that we did and achieved at Apple, I’m even prouder of what we chose not to do” and that’s where we go back to the heart of strategy’s choice and where Jeff was going is that when you get to the individual disciplines, it’s not a choice, it’s a tug of war of saying, this and this.

So the implementation plans, we need to do this and that, and this and that. Strategy is the opposite. Strategy is a choice of saying, “What am I prepared to let go of so that I can reinvest for greatest leverage somewhere else?”

So it’s a series of choices and the reason strategy’s hard is that strategy requires letting go of something and as humans, we’re disproportionately coded to weigh the letting go greater than the gain. It’s the subjective value.

So prospect theory says that we experience, if I was going to say, “Darren I’m going to toss a coin. Twenty dollars for heads. I give you twenty dollars. Tails, you give me twenty dollars”. Most people won’t take that bet. Would you take that bet?

Darren:

I would actually.

Ashton:

Yeah, you’re smart; you’re not most people. Most people won’t take that bet.

Darren:

Because of fear of loss.

Ashton:

Until it’s twenty, sorry, thirty to fifty dollars. So one and a half to three times the gain for a disproportionate loss and that’s why we avoid strategic decisions because of that fear of loss.

Darren:

Fear of missing out. Because strategy is about what not to do or just making the choice.

Ashton:

As much, yeah.

Darren:

What to do and what to focus on, Jeff, wouldn’t you say that many marketers, and especially the big corporate marketers, actually don’t seem to be practicing that at all?

Jeff:

100%. I was at a briefing last week for a client and we discussed over an hour, the possible inclusion of thirty different marketing channels and tactics. Now, when we looked at the size of the marketing department and their budgets, there was just no way that was going to be able to be done.

To echo what Ash said, the core of strategy is about deciding what to do and what not to do. I love the word decide, because it actually comes from the Latin meaning to kill or suicide.

To kill your options. That’s the game right now because it doesn’t matter which specialist you go to, if I’m holding a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. I went to a hairdresser, he told me I needed a haircut. And what we actually need to do in business is actually be choiceful and limited about where it is that we choose to spend our time.

Darren:

Yeah because there is a real problem happening in the marketing communications area, but I think it happens in wider business as well, and you guys, obviously your focus is beyond just marketing communications to a larger business focus.

Why is it just fear of missing out that drives this need to have a strategy that’s not a strategy?

Ashton:

I think the fear of missing out, what sits underneath that is often a mission bias of not wanting to make a decision.

Darren:

Yep.

Strategy takes responsibility, and responsibility takes courage and choice

Ashton:

So, we sort of trundle along and probably a mission bias is most tragically demonstrated at the moment with immunisations. So the counter immunisation movement out of the States where some fraudulent research paper was published that said that autism is linked with immunisation.

Darren:

Yeah, mercury in vaccines leads to autism.

Ashton:

Later retracted as a paper that only had correlation but no causation. The tragic thing is now is that mothers have latched onto it. And the reason they’re latching onto it is that if I immunise my child and they get autism, I’m responsible.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

If I don’t do it, and they get it, I’m just unlucky. If I’m a marketer and I do a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and I don’t decide, you know what, I’m actually going to stay off Facebook, that’s a decision that I’m responsible for.

And that’s where strategy takes responsibility, and responsibility takes courage and choice. And in the absence of choice, I do a little bit here, and I do a little bit there, and a little bit here and a little bit there.

Darren:

We call those marketers the lawn sprinkler.

Ashton:

Yes.

Darren:

They take the budget and just spray it across everything and then wonder why the grass doesn’t grow anywhere else. I mean Jeff, why do you think people have trouble making decisions and sticking to a strategy?

Be aware of the costs of over-strategising

Jeff:

I think what Ash outlined is a really good thought. But I also think the real cost of over-strategising is hidden. People will often come to us and they’ll say, “Well what kind of businesses will you work with?” And they’re expecting us to give them an industry vertical or a business size.

I always say two things to them. I Look to see if they’re in the mood for a step change – attitudinally ready to make a change – but also, I want to know if after working with us, there’s going to be enough money left over to implement what we tell them and what we recommend. If so, then we’ll work with them.

And funnily enough, the listeners out there might ask, “Well how could we possibly answer that question?” We try and aim for about 10% and so what I’m actually saying is that the hidden nature of the cost of strategy is probably what’s keeping people engaging in over-strategising.

So the call there is to actually have a look across their agency partners, their staffing, their budgets and actually say, “How much time, effort and money is being put into this rethinking and constant rethinking and should it be reduced?”

Darren:

Well we are increasingly doing very large projects of helping marketers rationalise their roster of agencies and it is not unheard of for us to find more than a hundred agencies engaged with a marketer, of all different types, right.

A hundred agencies when the budget is only enough for maybe twenty at the most. But when you divide it up, it’s the sprinkler; everyone’s getting a little bit.

Jeff:

Of course.

Darren:

The interesting thing is that every marketer will try and justify it. When we get to the point of cutting the roster from 120 down to 20, every marketer will justify it. Oh but they’re really good at strategy.

Jeff:

Yeah right.

Darren:

No one’s good at creative. No one’s good at innovation. Everyone’s good at strategy. The thing is, we then ask around, “Well what sort of strategy?” “Oh well, you know, marketing strategy”. I think this is one of the issues is that strategies become this sort of panacea, this label that covers everything.

Back to your point Ash about the strategy in these smaller disciplines, like a strategist for social media, a strategist for channel planning and a strategist for this and that. All they’re doing is really trying to manoeuvre a bit of a budget their way, aren’t they?

Social media strategy and vanity metrics

Ashton:

It is and there’s I think a lot of subterfuge around it. I think social media strategists have been guilty of some potentially unjust actions, and certainly there has been amazing volumes of literature produced around social media strategy.

When I look at social media strategy, a lot of it is around vanity metrics and things that don’t really matter. When I ask business owners the question, I say, “Great, so who owns your LinkedIn profile?” and they go, “I do”. No, Reid Hoffman owns that. Zucks owns your Facebook page. Brin and Page own your Google Plus.

The same for your YouTube channel. So the social media strategy I’m interested in, is how do you get people off somebody else’s platform to something that you own?

Darren:

That cracks me up because there’s actually a very high profile guy in Singapore who only works on LinkedIn strategy. He’s there to help businesses with their LinkedIn strategy and we had a conversation similar to this:

I said, “But I don’t own LinkedIn. I own my website and I use LinkedIn to drive traffic to my website. Why do I want to drive traffic to my website? Because I have a strategy that is called, ‘inbound marketing’ and to me, that’s the strategy.”

Inbound strategy is the strategy and then selecting the component pieces and then implementing. But when I talk to marketers, they find it very hard to articulate a strategy.

Ashton:

It is and I think some of it probably comes from the way that marketing is treated within the business. And…

Darren:

You mean the promotions area? The coloring-in section?

Ashton:

The colouring-in, the coloured pencils section.

Darren:

Blow up the balloons.

A good marketing strategy exists to leverage the business strategy

Ashton:

Yeah, absolutely, and I think unless marketing has had a seat at the table in the development of the business strategy, it’s then unrealistic for the marketing strategy to match the business strategy and it’s kind of like Russian dolls.

Marketing exists to leverage the business strategy and digital should exist to leverage the marketing strategy and social media should exist to leverage the digital strategy. So it’s kind of Russian dolls and unless there’s an axis and a link between all of them, we’re not being strategic.

Jeff:

And a lot of marketing departments and agency rosters are set up to be silos across the different channels. What Ash is really indicating is there should be a cascade from the top to the bottom and there really should be an understanding of which channels are most effective and make the biggest difference and they should be calling some of the shots and cascading it down.

Darren:

So Jeff I use a different metaphor. I say that the business strategy is the foundation.

Jeff:

Yep.

Darren:

Right? And it needs to be clearly articulated and defined. And then every single piece has to build on top of that. What I like about that is the effect of gravity.

Jeff:

Yeah.

Darren:

Because the most important is the heaviest thing, it’s at the bottom, and everything else builds on top of it. If suddenly you were over investing in a particular strategy in a particular channel and there’s not the support for it underneath in all of the previous strategies, then you are in trouble. You’ve reached an unstable position and I think that’s worked really well for me because otherwise there’s not a lot of linkage, is there?

Ashton:

No.

Jeff:

Often not.

Ashton:

I don’t think there’s much and I think probably the real victim is often when we go into companies, we’ve seen that marketing’s been charged to develop the marketing strategy often in the absence of a crystallised, clear business strategy. And so we have the distinctions, good strategy, bad strategy.

Darren:

That’s a good book.

Is your strategy just documentation of business as usual?

Ashton:

Yeah. Richard P Rumelt. So, most of the “business strategy” is really just the documentation of business as usual. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it Darren in your experience, but most annual strategic planning is actually taking last year’s business plan as the usual plan, increasing the numbers from 5 to 7% and having that as this year’s business as usual strategic plan. They just put the word strategy in.

Darren:

Plus 10% or CPI, whichever they use.

Ashton:

That’s it, 5 to 7, 10% at a stretch. And it really hasn’t gone back to the foundations of one, because all strategy’s grounded in context. The biggest screw-ups in military history, in political history, in marketing history come from applying good strategies to the wrong context.

Something that has worked in the past, something that is objectively smart that becomes irrelevant to that context is where screw-ups happen. And with the rate of change, the rate of things changing faster than ever before, things are moving fast, people are just going, “La la la la la” and thinking it’s all moving so fast, I can’t possibly have a strategy. That’s choosing a strategy, it’s called, the strategy that’s being reactive and that’s just dangerous.

Darren:

That’s a good point because I have had a number of marketers say to us, “How can we have a strategy when we are in such a flux. The market’s in a flux, there’s so much change, there’s disruption in our marketplace.” A strategy also becomes part of the roadmap, doesn’t it? It actually says, “This is where we’re heading”, because objective and strategy work together, don’t they?

Ashton:

You can’t have a strategy without a purpose or an objective.

Darren:

Yeah.

The need for a purpose-led strategy

Ashton:

Or else it’s purposeless. So we don’t like the concepts, mission and vision, we think that just gets confusing. So we say, purpose-led organisation. So we’re fans of Simon Sinek. Start with why but you’ve got to end with bye. So why’s not enough.

So we say, purpose-led. So our lexicon is purpose, the destination worth travelling to. The reason you get up in the morning and jump in the car. Separate from the ambition. Now the ambition is the commercial lens. Organisations that make money tend to be able to look after their clients and their staff and their customers better. They’re separate things. So if you look at some of the great examples of purpose and ambition when Henry Ford started off he said, “To help Americans explore this great land”.

Darren:

Yeah.

Ashton:

Beautiful purpose. Ambition, the commercial lens, a Ford in every driveway of America.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

When they went into Chapter 11 to maximise shareholder value. Spot the difference. So I think having purpose very clear but then the commercial ambition of the lens of the full-time score but how do we know we’ve won when we’ve arrived?

There you’ve got the objectives and the challenges out of your context if we’re using the journey analogy. It’s like the lemonade stands.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

And the potholes. You wanted to know if you’ve got a car full of screaming kids, you wanted to know where the lemonade stands are so I can stop. You want to know where the potholes are so I can swerve. You don’t want to fill up with lemonade then hit a pothole. So that’s it.

But then strategy is like the GPS. There’s always multiple roads to get you to a destination. Do you want to take the toll, do you want to go off-road, do you want to take the shortest route or the scenic route?

Darren:

There are choices and decisions to be made as part of the strategy.

Ashton:

A choice. Because taking a Formula 1 car on an off-road track is just stupid. Taking the Ducati if you’ve got to take three kids, not smart. I guess some countries in South East Asia have proven you get fifteen kids on a motorcycle, but essentially, not really a smart play. You want to take the people mover if you want to move people.

But too often, people are choosing the tactics or the car before the route. So that lexicon we find quite helpful and just the discussion around that actually gets much clearer and isolates that a lot of strategies are just documenting business as usual and that’s not strategy.

It’s important but you’ve got to realise, I’m documenting business as usual, it’s an operational plan, it’s not a strategic plan. They’re different things.

Darren:

So is that lexicon that framework on your website? Can people go and look?

Ashton:

It could be. We’ll send you the thing and you can put it up next to this. Yeah, happy to share that.

Tactic, objective or strategy

Darren:

Because we’ve been working with a thing, Shawn Callahan came up with it, we call it the Costanza manoeuvre to tell whether someone’s got a tactic, an objective or a strategy.

Ashton:

Yeah.

Jeff:

Right.

Darren:

So are you guys Seinfeld fans?

Jeff:

Absolutely.

Darren:

George Costanza decided that as everything he’d ever done led to disaster, he’d do the opposite of what George would do and he became successful. He ended up being in charge or marketing at the, what was it? The…

Jeff:

It was the Yankees.

Darren:

The Yankees, yeah. So we call it the same thing. Because just the point you made then Ash, which is strategy actually has multiple options, therefore to test if you have a strategy, you’ll look at whether there’s a reverse option and whether that’s valid because there is no reverse objective.

Ashton:

Yeah, right.

Darren:

And there is no reverse tactic, right? So this is an actual conversation. I said to the client, “What’s your strategy because we need to align your agencies and your organisation to that strategy?” And they said, “To be customer centric”. And I said to them, “So what would be the opposite of that?” and they go, “What do you mean?” and I said, “Well if it’s a strategy, you should be able to have a reverse of that.”

Jeff:

To be non-customer centric.

Ashton:

To be customer un-centric.

Jeff:

Yep.

Darren:

And we were saying, “That’s why it’s an objective. That’s what you want to achieve. You want to move your organisation from here to here. That’s your journey, that’s the destination that you’re heading for. Your strategy is how out of the thousands of options available to you, are you going to get there? And based on the resources, time and money that you’ve got, how can you achieve that?”

Ashton:

It was actually interesting Darren, you just reminded me of one of the steps that I missed but when we do strategy and I’m drawing now, we build our context as a strategic radar and in the middle we have purpose.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

Because back to that business, marketing, social, digital, etc scenario. Organisations should be purpose-led and that means we define our context in relation to our purpose. We then basically put a timeline filter across it because all opportunities and challenges are timeline critical and one of the things that all humans suffer from is a thinking error called duration neglect.

If I asked you to recall your life, it should take every year that you’ve had to recall it in full but you’d comfortably tell me your life in maybe half an hour. Duration neglect means that we tend to remember the high point and the end point and just average those things.

We do the same thing when we look at our strategic context or a swot analysis. It’s not time critical.

Darren:

No.

Ashton:

So opportunities and challenges are time critical. So we need to have purpose at the top. In our travelling analogy, objectives, we call them mile markers.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

We know we’re travelling towards our purpose, but they’re in line with our end destination.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

And that’s where a lot of objectives end up being inconsequential to the main purpose or mission. So organisations that have purpose, you talk about the opposite. If you don’t have a purpose, it’s not that you don’t have a purpose, you’re purposeless. It’s kind of interesting.

Being flexible and making adjustments

Darren:

So similar, and the metaphor we use is exactly the same. I want to drive from Sydney to Melbourne. I plan out my journey, what’s the best route to get there and to answer that question about being able to react to the marketplace, if I head out on the Hume Highway and suddenly there’s a bushfire that’s blocked the road, then it’s only because I’ve got my map that I can work out what’s the best detour that will get me back onto the direction I’m going.

Ashton:

Yep.

Darren:

If I had no plan, I’d drive out of Sydney and I’d just wander aimlessly around the country until maybe, I hit Melbourne.

Ashton:

Yeah. We’ve badged that concept, agility. You knew where you were going, you set off on the Hume Highway as your strategy, but you’d been aware and left something in the tank, enough fuel that if you needed to detour in case of a bushfire, roadworks or anything else, you can still get to the destination.

Darren:

Which is the metaphor for competitive action or changes in the marketplace. But then there’s also the other thing, the fear of missing out. I set out on this strategic journey. What happens if a big opportunity presents itself?

Ashton:

Yeah.

Assessing whether opportunities or detours are actually worthwhile

Darren:

And it’s the same whether it’s the negative or the positive, you have to know where you’re heading to be able to assess whether those opportunities or detours are actually worthwhile.

Ashton:

Well that’s why we put purpose in the middle, because out of your purpose comes your context, and out of your context comes the top opportunities and challenges. If your opportunities or challenges change we then need to review our strategy and if they remain constant, then our strategy should remain true.

And that’s when we talk about the ‘la la la, close our eyes’. Some organisations go, “Oh we’ve got a three year strategic plan”. Well if your context fundamentally changes in three years, what’s the value of that plan?

Darren:

Yeah.

Ashton:

It’s fundamentally worthless. So unless you’re prepared to commit to a cadence, I don’t know, Jeff’s really big on the cadence thing.

Make sure that you’re looking at your strategy regularly

Darren:

What’s cadence, Jeff?

Jeff:

It’s the counter point to being careful about how much time, money and effort you’re spending on strategy. Make sure that you’re looking at it regularly.

Darren:

Yep.

Jeff:

So you know, interestingly enough, the reason that we tend to work with tools is that at some point in the near future, quarterly, monthly…

Ashton:

That’s thinking tools rather than working with tools.

Jeff:

Yeah absolutely. We’re going to have to sit the same people down again who have probably distanced themselves from the strategy a little bit and probably a whole lot of new people given turnover.

We need to be able to get them up to speed of exactly where we were, the context that made and that drove those decisions and then be able to rethink it. So when Ash talks about cadence, what that really means is of course we should limit how much we spend on strategy to make sure there’s enough left to actually get the job done.

But we should also have a cadence where we are checking in on that regularly and the right tools, systems, process and discipline to make sure that when we do check in on it, we’re starting from where we finished last time, not from a blank sheet of paper.

Darren:

Exactly, because to extend your journey metaphor, you’re going to be checking the fuel gauge, the speedo and the mileage. That alludes to the “dashboard” and everyone is out there offering dashboards and listening to you talking about cadence, I realise what’s wrong with most of these dashboards is they’re actually giving a readout of things that are not relevant to the strategy.

Jeff:

They’re also live. A lot of the dashboards now, the whole thing’s about being live and live information is really really great when it’s good news, it’s really really great when it’s news you expected, but it really makes it difficult to pull out anomalies and to see things in the context of trends.

So some of the work that we’re doing across dashboards and objectives at the moment, they actually really need to make sure that as you’re getting that information live, that you are reviewing that in the context of seasonal swings, changes in context, things that are predictable to understand whether we are just having a bad day, week or month or are we in serious trouble?

It’s not about having the answers, it’s about asking the questions

Darren:

Yeah.

Ashton:

An organisation is either strategic or they’re not.

Darren:

Right.

Ashton:

And that commitment to being strategic is that I don’t send the management team away to come back with stone tablets once every three years. I engage in a quality of strategic conversation and a discipline of  strategic conversation at all levels, all the time.

Darren:

Yep.

Ashton:

Another one of the thinking errors humans have is that we think that what we see is all there is to see. And when there’s a dashboard, people can get into over-analysing the competition.

And one of the things I love about hanging out with you Darren and the conversations we have, is you have a strategic mind and you’re always enquiring, “Are those the right gauges? Where’s the data from those gauges coming from? Is there a different gauge? When was the last time we had this serviced?” Those types of questions are where strategy arises from because great strategy is not about having the answers, it’s about enquiry and asking the questions.

And one of my favourite things related to good strategy, bad strategy – going back to Remult for a second – is sustainable competitive advantage.

If we’re talking about overused terms, and maybe it’s a different podcast for next time. But we’ve got brand overused, strategy overused, sustainable competitive advantage, it’s an absolute cracker.

And I remember the analogy is that the World War 1 French fuel manual and this is my French accent coming out. It said, “The sustainable competitive advantage of the French is superior valour in the face of enemy fire”. And they believe this stuff so the French were there going, “A sustainable competitive advantage is French valour in the face of enemy fire”. And the Germans are sitting there going, “Ya, and ours is a machine gun. Let’s see how that plays out”. So three hundred thousand dead French later, they realised that they didn’t actually have a sustainable competitive advantage.

Darren:

Not in the face of machine guns.

Ashton:

They had bravado masquerading as strategy and I think it’s that kind of what you bring is that strength of enquiry. Is that really an advantage? Is there really a strength there? Have we really thought that through?

That’s really where strategy starts and ends. In the courage to ask tough questions, not once every three years.

Darren:

But all the time.

Ashton:

All the time.

Darren:

To me, that’s curiosity. Thank you. That was nice of you to say. But to me it’s just curiosity. You’re constantly wondering, how does this work and how can I make it work better?

That is basically what drives, I think any strategic person to want to, to get the best out of any situation to create the best advantage.

Ashton:

Going back to your Costanza, strategy is a how. If there’s no how, there’s no strategy.

Darren:

Jeff, have you got any advice for people that are struggling with strategy because that’s not a bad insight. Know how, know strategy.

Summing Up: Practical tips for better strategies:

Jeff:

Yeah, I think I’ve got a little bit of a five-point plan to get nice and pointy around it. So first of all.

Darren:

So five fingers.

Jeff:

Yeah.

Become aware of how much you are spending on strategy in terms of time and effort and really be worried about whether or not you might have too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Have regular planning cadence and discipline and make sure that you’re documenting things as you go so that you can start from where you were last time, not a blank sheet of paper, because that is a really good way to get lost when you have a lot of chiefs and not enough Indians.

Make sure that your business strategy cascades down business strategy, marketing strategy and then all of your individual channels so that as you review it, the next piece of strategic information is obvious given that.

And set up some fail safe tests so whilst we’re all out pontificating and trying to work out what the next breakthrough and advantage is, there are actually little tests and ways that we can go “Well hang on, for this strategy to be true, what assumptions would have to also be true for it to work” and then go out and try and test those in little safe ways so that you can take the bold strategic steps with confidence.

Darren:

Well look, that actually sounds like the start of a book. You guys, could this be the start of the Step Change book?

Jeff:

We actually wrote a six-series book once. Six volumes. It nearly killed us given that Ash and I are both dyslexic kids so ah, I don’t know if we’ll be taking on that challenge again.

Darren:

If you do, I’m happy to write the foreword okay?

Jeff:

Got it. That’s very generous. So you’ll do the first two pages and we’ll just look after the following six hundred.

Darren:

I’ll do the three hundred or four hundred words and I’ll write the introduction. But guys thank you very much. I love catching up with you and I love having these types of chats.

Jeff:

Thank you.

Darren:

So thank you very much and of course, I’ll be wanting commission on that book idea.

Jeff:

Of course, yes, the one that we aren’t going to go ahead with.

Need some help to get your strategy right? Find out about TrinityP3’s Marketing Planning Process Review here

Step Change have also kindly shared this graphic on The Language of Strategy. Click on the image to view full size:

The language of strategy

 

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

We're Listening

Have something to say about this article?
Share it with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

This entry was posted in interesting observations, Podcasts, return on investment, strategic management. Bookmark the permalink.