Beyond the buzz

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Still talking about putting the cart before the horse

It amazes me that in 2009, marketing professionals are still seeing and decrying the unevolved approach to marketing we’ve been seeing since the dawn of marketing. Yep, that’s right: talking tactics before strategy.

Seth Godin recently summarized this sickness in a recent post. His example of the attraction to tactics over strategy is noteworthy: “Tactics are easy to outline, because we say, “I’m going to post this.” If we post it, we succeed. Strategy is scary to outline, because we describe results, not actions, and that means opportunity for failure.”

The current obsession with measurability plays a large part in the seemingly inexplicable allure of tactics. Nothing wrong with measurability: if you’re going to invest good money in something, you want to know whether it actually worked. William Lever famously said, “Half my advertising money is wasted. The problem is that I don’t know which half!”

We’re all still trying to find him that answer.

What many fail to realize is that the answer can’t be answered unless there’s a strategy in place. In statistics, we define the universe before we can gather data, let alone conduct analysis. Kinda like asking “How many people are there?” when the only question that can be answered is “How many people are there in that room/city/country/etc.?”

Will we ever outgrow this juvenile approach? Is there an antidote?

Filed under: Strategy