Interview: Jenna Tiffany - Marketing Strategy
Interview: Jenna Tiffany - Marketing Strategy
James Delves, CIM's head of PR and engagement interviews Jenna Tiffany, Chartered Marketer, on her new book, 'Marketing Strategy'.
1. What is your book about? And why did you write it?
My book is the book I wish I’d had when I was starting out in marketing. I spent years searching for that one book which would clearly explain the formula for creating a successful marketing strategy. I never found it - so I wrote it myself.
I hope that my book will help readers get a clear grasp on what marketing strategy is and how to utilise it successfully. Marketers, business owners, employers, and marketing students will definitely find it very useful - but the book isn’t exclusively for them! I’ve worked hard to make it clear and easy to follow, so that everyone with an interest in marketing can get something out of it.
2. Why should someone read your book?
This book provides practical, real-life aid for readers. It will give you the tools, the techniques and the structures you’ll need to create a marketing strategy for every business. Brand examples and workshop tasks feature throughout to apply the techniques and learning from the book directly to your organisation.
3. Who are your marketing heroes?
Oh gosh, where do I start? I was lucky enough to be able to feature many of my heroes in the book. For example, my former boss Michele Gettins contributed a great section on her ‘Smell the Difference’ campaign for ‘Iamproperty’. She’s been an incredible inspiration - I love the way she’s taken marketing out of the back offices and into the boardroom where it belongs. She’s really impressive!
Then there are people like Sara Meikle and Victoria Peppiatt, who are helping to ‘be the change’ in modern marketing. We’re in a really interesting era for marketing, and people like Sara and Victoria who are pushing marketing forward, who see the need to strategise and innovate rather than to keep on doing the same old - those kind of people are really inspirational. They’re helping to join the dots between data and consumer, and they’re never tempted to let shiny new technology distract them from the real work of getting to know the customer.
4. In the book you discuss that we are in the ‘golden age of marketing strategy’ and that modern marketing tools mean that marketing success is within the reach of almost everyone on the planet. How can CIM members use the book to rise above the competition and drive their success?
I’ve filled the book with plenty of practical, actionable tools and frameworks marketers can use to create and launch a successful strategy. Some old favourites, but also plenty of brand new tools to help marketeers navigate the complicated world of modern marketing. For example, I’ve devised the SCALE acronym to help set objectives, and my STRATEGY framework provides the key steps to follow when creating a new or reviewing an existing strategy. You’ll also find extensions to existing frameworks, such as SWOTELL, which enables you to uncover your existing limitations and to identify areas of leverage, and EAIDAL which adds education for new startups and new products to the existing framework, to cater for the growing startup landscape.
As well as these practical tools, there are also plenty of insights, tips, and case studies from a wide variety of marketers and businesses. Mailchimp gave insights into how their story began, Action for Children have provided a great case study about their very successful Boycott your Bed campaign, and you’ll also find a fascinating write-up of Iamproperty’s ‘Can you smell the difference?’ multichannel campaign.
5. Can you summarise what a good marketing strategy is and some of the pitfalls CIM members should avoid?
Honestly, my biggest bugbear is when people string together a bunch of tactics and think they’ve designed a strategy. Not understanding the difference between tactics and strategy is a major pitfall, and it’s something I see a lot.
Put very simply, strategy is the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘why’ of a campaign. Tactics are the ‘how’. In the book I used the cake analogy - strategy is the recipe, the mixing bowl, the oven, and the people you feed the cake to. Tactics are the ingredients. It’s really important to understand what kind of cake the people want, how the ingredients go together, what tools you need to get the best results, the kind of icing that will work best, how long you should bake it for etc etc. The ingredients are integral, but just chucking a bunch of ingredients together without any of that other stuff to guide you is never going to give you a great cake.
A good marketing strategy is like a great recipe. It not only tells you which ingredients will work best for this cake, it also guides you to bake the perfect cake with confidence.
As for other pitfalls - I’ve got loads I could get into (I do, in the book! Turn to the last chapter if you want to uncover the ten most common marketing pitfalls!). I’ll try not to get too deep here. One increasingly common pitfall I see a lot is chasing after the shiny new marketing ‘thing’ without actually checking to see if it’s appropriate for your audience or campaign. It’s really tempting to play with shiny new toys, but they’ve ultimately got to serve the purpose of your campaign and give your customers that all-important value, or you’re just wasting time and resources.
6. The book is full of useful models and theories. Is there a model or theory you are most proud of in the book?
I’m really proud of the STRATEGY framework, which takes you through every step towards creating a successful marketing strategy. I made it with a couple of major goals in mind:
- To demonstrate in a clear way where tactics come into the equation when formulating a marketing strategy. As I’ve said above, there’s a lot of misconceptions about strategy vs tactics, so I wanted to make it really clear - visually as well as theoretically - exactly where tactics fit into the process.
- To make strategy a lot easier for marketers to understand. Strategy-building is honestly not as difficult as many think it is - but ‘strategy’ is a big concept, and looking at it as a whole can be very daunting. I hope that the STRATEGY framework will help marketers break down strategy-building down into simple parts, and to get a really thorough understanding of what a good strategy needs without having to scale a mountain of theory. It took a lot of work and many iterations to get to the STRATEGY acronym, but once it all came together I knew I’d got it right. The acronym also became the structure of the book, which I wasn’t intending at all when I started to work on it - but it fit so well that it happened quite naturally. It’s been the thing that most marketers have commented on, and I’m proud to say that it’s already featured in several university marketing strategy courses.
7. Marketing Strategy offers practical advice such as how to select the right channels and how to track and analyse success. Can you explain some of these ideas and why you wanted the book to be strategic and useful day-to-day?
I’ve tried to put in as much advice as possible on things like channel selection and analytics, because these things not only make campaigns a lot more impactful with customers, they also make the daily jobs of marketers a lot easier.
A good marketing strategy isn’t something you press the ‘launch’ button on and then leave to run its course. I think maybe you could be a bit more ‘hands-off’ in the past, but in this digital age a good marketer has to be constantly connected to their strategy. Customers are connected 24/7, so the marketers they’re talking to have to be as well.
Having said that, marketers can make their day-to-day a lot easier if they get things like their channels, messaging, and analytics well set-up in the first place. For example, if you’ve done your research and segmented your audience well, you can have a lot more faith in your campaign doing what it’s supposed to on the daily basis. And if you’ve got your analytics well primed with the right metrics and so on, you’ll know straight away when anything needs tweaking. You can save yourself a lot of social media meltdowns through some fairly basic audience research!
To help out with that, there’s a lot in the book about how to set goals and objectives and align them to metrics, how to truly understand your audience, how to make sure the right message goes through the right channel, and so on.
8. In the book you highlight the importance of organisations building trust and how to solve the data trust issue. Do you have any tips to share of how organisations can be more transparent and build trust with customers?
Yes! It always comes down to considering the end consumer. It sounds obvious, but companies should always have the person they’re marketing for in the front of their minds. At the end of an email address, at the end of a web visit is a person. Time and time again I’ve seen the human element get forgotten. We start doing things online that would never be accepted in a face-to-face scenario, and those things become accepted - and gradually we lose sight of the actual, human people behind the screens. This is a huge problem in the world in general, of course, and it’s deadly for marketing.
Marketing has always been about human connection, and we should never lose sight of that. Be human in your approach and be transparent. Your message has to connect with your audience, and to give them real, human value. If it doesn’t, the audience will switch off and disengage from your company.
9. Tell me a piece of advice or a story that’s not in the book? Something special for the CIM newsroom readers.
I didn’t go into much detail about my own story. I guess I can share it with you guys!
When setting up my agency, Let’s Talk Strategy, I had to take a huge leap into the dark. I went from a good, full-time job and all the comforts of a monthly salary to start something completely new. I had no clients, and I knew I’d have to start from scratch.
It was daunting - but I really wanted to use my experience to create the best possible marketing experience for a range of clients. Lots of agencies focus on one particular industry, but I knew that the broad principles of strategy can be applied to any industry. I wanted to give clients the strategic marketing tools they needed to grow their business’, no matter what their product was.
I was lucky enough to have a great network, and I’ve leveraged that to build a great team and a solid base of clients. We’re constantly getting enquiries from prospective clients, and we have an amazing reputation that I’m really proud of. Looking back, it’s amazing to have gone from pretty much nothing to this point!
10. Many of the readers of this site write themselves. What one piece of advice would you give someone wanting to write their own book or blog?
Do it! Start today! There’s a lot of discussion about perfection in writing and it's an admirable aim - but don’t forget the old saying that perfection is the enemy of progress. Don’t let worries about whether or not your writing is perfect stop you from sharing your work. I personally think that writing is something you have to do to improve at - so the quicker you get typing, the quicker you’ll race towards that perfection!
In the Marketing Strategy Series, I interviewed marketing thought-leaders and business owners including marketers from CIM about their advice to new and aspiring marketers, and they all said to not hold back. So, ask questions, be curious and to make a start. You can always add to something and grow - but to do that, you have to start it in the first place.
11. Do you have any new projects on the horizon you can tell us about?
My main project is to focus on growing the Let’sTalk Strategy agency. There are a lot of new partnerships on the horizon, which I’m very excited about! I’m also writing a new marketing course for Harbour.Space University in Barcelona which I’ll be teaching in the summer of 2022.
Marketing Strategy is available now, click here to buy your copy.
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