Opinion: Catalyst issue 10
Anyone familiar with the classic BBC comedy Blackadder will know these words are followed by a farcical plan that has no chance of success whatsoever. Unrealistic plans – or plans made in ignorance – if they bear no relation to wider goals, are simply a waste of everyone’s time. There is a difference between having a plan and creating a strategy, however. A plan is simply a detailed proposal for action; a strategy carefully considers how that plan contributes to a long-term or overall aim. In Blackadder, Baldrick invented plenty of cunning plans, but had no clue about strategy.
In ancient Greece, from where the word derives, ‘strategy’ described the role of a military commander. Planning, tactics and logistics were sub-skills of the high-level decision-making that came with the office of ‘general’. Generals knew success in combat meant gathering information on opposing forces and the environment, while being agile in the face of unforeseen factors. A strategy for success would involve goal setting, but also an understanding of how the ends could be met with the resources available. It meant knowing their strengths and those of the opposition. Little has changed.
As marketers, we are familiar with how strategic marketing differs from tactical marketing, and the drivers of product, price, placement, people and promotion. We also know that strategy aligns marketing with business goals to deliver value. But not everyone knows this – and part of the challenge for marketing is to make clear this distinction, and the benefits of a sound strategy.
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