In marketing, strategy is King
These days nearly all businesses are hyper-concerned about their budget. Even companies that are doing well feel the constant and foreboding weight of, “What if…?”
Small business owners in particular have an acute awareness of how quickly things can change. Unfortunately, perhaps more often than not, executives in this position decide to, “Hunker down and weather the storm.” They feel this turtle-shell maneuver is the wisest choice – on the surface it appears to be the safest, most conservative decision. However, if we carry this metaphor through, you will see this is entirely the wrong choice.
A turtle pulls into it’s shell to avoid injury from an assault (consider past PR nightmares for company’s like Nike or Pepsi), it does not pull into it’s shell to find food! No matter how long it stays there, nor how tough the shell is, the turtle still has to forage to survive.
It’s the proactive business that survives.
Instead of ‘weathering the storm’ we should be more concerned with adapting to the new environment. After all, even when the economy turns around and business is booming, nothing will as it was before. Now is the time for business owners to learn a new form of survival, and evolve to the point where they can prosper despite these turbulent times. This is where strategy comes in. Strategy has of course always been around, but never before has the average small business owner had such quick and easy access to so much information with which to develop a strategy.
In the past there were standard ‘formula’ marketing stratagems which companies would use to guarantee a certain level of success: direct mailers, cold calls, brochures, TV campaign, trade shows, etc. Marketing firms would be hired to develop a message and plan the execution and the company would throw whatever finances were required into their coffers. For small businesses $10,000 could be gone in the blink of an eye just on brochures alone. Then they would be forced to sit back and hope the campaign was effective. Only large firms could invest the capital to hiring people and systems to track metrics and judge a campaigns success. The whole system made it exceptionally difficult for any small business without major financial backing to compete.
Today, the tables have turned.
Small businesses now have enterprise level solutions at their finger tips from Google Analytics, newsletter services, and call tracking software to cloud based subscription-model project and client management tools and everything in between. Many of these tools are free or available for a nominal fee! Additionally, the cost of printing, graphic design, photography and other professional services has dropped by dramatic margins due to advances in technology, among other factors. The result is the playing field has been leveled. Whenever everyone has the same weapons it’s less about overpowering the opposition and more about out thinking and out maneuvering. This is why strategy is now a bigger player than ever before. Product development companies began to understand this nearly a decade ago, hence smart phones, smart cars, interactive cars, heck even interactive ‘intelligent’ glass windows! Everything in our world is becoming ‘smarter’ – small businesses must do the same.
The core of strategy lies in honestly and candidly assessing your current situation and position, then leveraging what you have to get to where you want to be. This is precisely why we have embraced, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu as our core philosophy in developing strategies. And no, the irony of a 3,000+ year old book becoming the guide for how to navigate an era that is unlike any other in our history, is not lost on us. In fact, it’s a little poetic.
I highly recommend finding a copy of, “The Art of War” today. It’s a surprisingly short and easy read. You can find free e-versions here: http://suntzusaid.com/
Also stay tuned, we are picking up our Art of War in Marketing blog series this fall!