There’s a clear and present danger in all that we do as marketers – the danger that our day-to-day tasks will suck us so deep into frequent “rinse-repeat” cycles of activities that we will lose sight of the end objective. Tactics often overwhelm Strategy with volume – sometimes to get a better view of the end goal you need to take a step back to where it all started. Let’s call this post an attempt to focus some attention back to those first principles.
So, you have built the proverbial better mousetrap. You have also pored through all the available information in market research reports and on the web. You understand the universe of buyers that need mousetraps is broken up into groups based on the homogeneity in their specific needs, their criteria for making purchase decisions, the way they make their purchases and so on. Incidentally that is as good a definition of Segmentation as any. What do we do next?
The next step is Targeting. Based on what you now know about the size, attractiveness and accessibility of each segment you need to carefully consider the specific segment that makes the most sense for you to try to sell your mousetrap to ? Each segment has different problems they want solved and different things they value and you want to find the one that is most likely to value the specific capabilities of your mousetrap. Incidentally marketing experts will tell you that you need to first find what the market wants and then put a product / service offering together for the segment you pick – but given that you have already built your better mousetrap we no longer have that option do we?
The modern marketer then calls for the police sketch artist – figuratively. The trend these days is to try to define a Buyer Persona. A kind of research based identikit portrait of a specific person representative of the wider buyer community. As an example for your mousetrap one persona could be Jill, a single mom with a 2 year old son who lives in a quiet suburban community. This persona helps marketing and sales in latter stages of the marketing / sales cycle concentrate the messaging and other activities – anything Jill is unlikely to respond to is probably not a great approach to take for all those buyers like her.
Next up is Positioning – an attempt to define your mousetrap in terms that clearly identifies its specific place in the market especially with respect to all the other solutions out there designed to help Jill address her rodent problem. The final objective is to create a unique place for your mousetrap in the mind of buyers like Jill. Closely tied into this stage is the Messaging you use. The definitions, language, descriptions and terms that you use for your mousetrap has to be consistent with the positioning you have chosen and the buyer persona that you are communicating with. If Jill is believed to be technically inclined then she may value knowing the tensile strength and the gauge of steel wire used in the trap and in this case the product brochure should mention that – otherwise not.
To my mind this is a good place to draw the line between Strategic Marketing and Tactics. I believe that a lot of what marketers do after the Messaging is defined is more tactical in nature – what content do you create to convey the messaging – today blogs, articles, whitepapers, video and many more types of content options are available each with its own place. What channels do you use to propagate this content is another tactical selection from among social media, ads – digital and real world, PR and so on. This principle holds true for the website, collateral, social media, emails and all other communication mechanisms you use as well. Consistent messaging is critical to prevent confusion and hence distraction but that apart many of the specific choices are dictated more by day-to-day considerations that a broad over-all strategic imperative. What do you think – is this the place where strategy morphs into tactics? Or do you perhaps believe making such a distinction is unnecessary?