Many companies, including high-tech manufacturers, often assume they have a vibrant marketing strategy, but they may simply be recycling old ideas that have ceased to resonate with their varied audiences. In the first part of this blog, I discussed two indicators that executives can use to confirm the lack of a strong marketing program. This concluding blog discusses three more.
- You're not creating customer value . Companies make some significant choices. The problem is when it's unclear why a choice will benefit the business or the customer. Strategic choices are about having a good explanation why the action will create value for the company and its customers. Without that, it's not a strategy. The larger the company, the more likely the wrong kinds of choices will be made.
Multinational conglomerates are highly prone to this kind of nonstrategic decision-making. Applying an apparent matrix-based logic, they put countries on one axis and lines of business on the other. The alleged strategy is having all your businesses in as many countries as possible in the least amount of time, typically via acquisitions. The question is whether having all those businesses in all those countries constitutes a strategy, good or otherwise. Where's the value in that?
- You think having an objective equals having a strategy . Aiming at being first or second in your target market is an objective. It may certainly be a good one, but it's not a strategy. It's like an Indianapolis 500 driver saying, “I'm going to drive really fast and not crash.” Hey, that's great! However, wanting to be “the leader” and similar statements are goals. They're valid ones, but they're definitely not strategies. Strategies equate to ideas and actions. There needs to be some answers to how the goal or objective will be achieved. This would show up in a business plan, maybe even in a PowerPoint deck. If it doesn't, there's no strategy.
- You're keeping strategy a secret . The biggest and rather common mistake among those who think they have a strategy and don't is having none of the employees know about it. A strategy only becomes a strategy if everyone in the company gets it and, ideally, is on board with it. The employees need to act in concert with the strategy as they're executing tactics that move the strategy toward the objective. To do that, they must understand the strategy.
Having a great strategy on someone's computer is almost as bad as not having one at all. In spite of the strategy's potential brilliance, unless the proposed direction is pointing to desired results, it's of no value unless people all over the business are acting on it. The best way to discover whether a strategy is being kept a secret is simply asking around. If you don't get very similar answers about how the company is addressing competitors, you can bet the outfit is lacking a strategy.