You May Not Have a Marketing Strategy if… Part Two

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.

  1. 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?

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

12 comments on “You May Not Have a Marketing Strategy if… Part Two

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 2, 2011

     A strategy only becomes a strategy if everyone in the company gets it and, ideally, is on board with it.

    Companies underestimate the power of a consistent message, as you point out in your series. It is particularly difficult in a big, global organization. There's a difference between parroting a catch phrase — “We build things that make things better”–and understanding the underlying message. (Although in the aforementioned example, I do remember the name of the compnay that used it, so I guess it did its job.)

  2. Ford Kanzler
    December 2, 2011

    Hi Barbara – When it comes to internal communications, an area I don't claim special  expertise in, thre are diseconomies of scale. In smaller businesses or autonomous divisions, a company meeting can work quite well. Above  a few hundred people it starts getting much harder but it can be done, even when it a multi-location, global company.It would seem the rather small but extremely valuable consumer electronics company in Cupertino, CA has figured out how to do it, perhaps through the force of character of its former CEO.

    The “make things better” line was, I believe Philips Electronics  and it ran for years. It included themed design and colors for all communication. I understand it took a powerful woman running communications at corporate headquarters in Einthoven to burn that in among all its divisions. Whether everyone at Philips “got” the message is likely debatable.

  3. Laurie Sullivan
    December 4, 2011

    I think you're referring to BASF:  We don't make the [product,] we make the [product] better. They contributed to the success of the product, but didn't make the product. To have a successful marketing strategy, the CMO must have a seat on the executive board to get the buy in of those at the top. Then he/she can start to funnel the message to workers, who must use that same message in online ad campaigns, social media campaigns, and offline advertising.  

  4. _hm
    December 4, 2011

    It is very difficult to be perfect in this time-to-market world. The optimum way is to have very good feedback mechanisms and correct the respose accordingly and quickly. This way you have good time to market and also improving coomunication with values for customers.


    December 4, 2011

    I heartedly agree with your last point in that companies should communicate and educate all staff on the key points of the strategy.  Too often it appears that strategy seems to be protected within the top management team as if it were some great secret.

  6. Ford Kanzler
    December 4, 2011

    Hi Scot – Rather than strategy being intentionally kept a secret, going back to the original blog post, often there is no strategy or there's a definite uncertainty about what the strategy is and/or there's disagreement over whatever may pass for strategy. These are likely only some of the reasons marketing strategy isn't shared throughout the company. Its a classic case of the emporer's new clothes. What's happening around this subject at your company?

  7. Adeniji Kayode
    December 5, 2011


    Don,t you think that every company should have it trade secrets?

  8. Eldredge
    December 5, 2011

    @Adeniji – A trade secret is different than a strategy. A good example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola. A comapny protects their trade secret by restricting access to the trade secret information within the company and ensuring that it has the legal instruments in place to prevent knowledgable employees from disclosing that information.

    Strategy needs to be known throughout the organization – otherwise, it is very difficult to actually implement the strategy,

  9. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 5, 2011

    After reading the comment thread, I realized something…the company that used “we build the things that make things better” concept did not succeed. I thought it was Bosch; Ford thought Philips and Laurie thought it was BASF. I think Laurie is right. At any rate, it wasn't a failure of the internal vs. external marketing issue, it was the message that didn't work. Or maybe both?

  10. JADEN
    December 5, 2011

    It is true that company objective does not equal to having a strategy.  Strategy is derived from the vision & Mission of the company, which is the analysis of how the vision is achieved and must fit with the organisation's goals & objectives.

  11. JADEN
    December 5, 2011

    @Adeniji Kayode,

    You are right that every company should have a trade secret which is type of intelectual property like formulary, process, system or confidential information that gives the company a competitive advantage, and unauthorized disclosure of such will harm the company.  Infact, courts generally grant injunctions to prevent threatened disclosure of a trade secret by the employees, but this is not as company strategy. 

  12. milesroces
    October 4, 2012

    Every business has it's own marketing strategies! No company shares any of this coz they wanted to be on top of all things. In the internet world goolge, yahoo, and facebook are basically the most used Link Marketing channels in the world. Most online marketing strategies have their unique way of promoting their goods and services which decides their progress and status in the business world.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.