Online revolution is nothing without strategy

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

New year. New age. In this plugged in, always on world, I’ve notice a common attitude that’s becoming a trend. And not a good one, at that. Many are under the false belief that all you have to do is get on Twitter, Facebook, and blog your heart out, and you’ll find success through the sheer magic of the internet. It is no question that these online tools and Google search has revolutionized the world of advertising. But the question is, just because you have a skillful command of these tools, does it make you a marketing genius?

From what I’ve seen, no. Being good at online tools alone doesn’t make you a marketing god. That’s only half of the story. Circuit City didn’t go bankrupt because they lacked twitter skills. They went bust because they lost focus on their core business brand and watched Best Buys blow right by them. Burger King is one of the most progressive new media players in the fast food industry. They’ve had huge success with Subservient Chicken and Facebook Whopper Sacrifice. Still, they are a very distant second to McDonald’s.

So why isn’t new media THE answer? The problem is that too many marketers forget the second part of the equation – strategy. Marketing is made up of two components: marketing strategy and marketing tactics. Which is more important? Many believe, and so do I, that strategy is far more important than tactics. Tactics are short lived and only affect a portion of the marketing spectrum. It takes strategy to see the end game, what it will take to get there, and what tools (tactics) it will need to accomplish stated goals. Too many concentrate on the tools and not enough on what you’re building in the first place.

Instead of just trying to find new tactics or different online solutions, why not take a closer look at your overall strategy? That’s where one should begin with anyway. How do you know what tactics you should invest in without knowing the core marketing strategy and the goal that strategy is trying to accomplish? Too many marketers try to hop on the newest online toy without really understanding how that new toy will contribute to the overall strategy.

If you get your strategy right, then the tactics you employ whether it’s new media, social media, traditional advertising, etc., will pay off dividends in ROI and help you reach your established goals. By knowing what tool is best for what results, you can actually employ the right tactics for the right measurements and not expect the wrong tool for the right results.

The skillful use of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and SEO won’t make a weak brand strong. All it will do is accelerate a weak brand’s demise. By having a strong brand linked with insightful strategy and executed with the right tactics, you’ve increased your chances of marketing success 100-fold.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

4 Responses to “Online revolution is nothing without strategy”

  1. Tony,

    great article, thank you for sharing! Every step we take – in business and in life – SHOULD come out as a result of understanding the big picture. I think the problem is that many businesses can’t understand the big picture – at least that has been my experience with very small businesses and individuals. If I am one guy doing all the work and struggling to make the ends meet, I may not find the time or energy to ponder the overall strategy – or I can be simply overwhelmed by it – and I would certainly benefit from the outside help.

    I do agree that the tools themselves may not help you move forward. However, I do believe that the tools may have great value for some people and businesses, even without the strategy. Only when I jumped on Twitter and Facebook and began to understand the social media space, did I finally begin to realize what MY big picture might look like. The tools have become my R&D. Granted, I do enjoy the learning, and have had the time and energy to invest in the process. I can see though how a bigger company might not have such a luxury.

    Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts.


    • Tim- Thank you for taking time out to read the blog. I agree with you that you first begin by learning what the tools are (Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, etc.) And most people learn by doing. I’m no exception. R&D is a good way to put it. By doing, you gain understanding. Now, large corporations have similar processes, but their R&D is limited to a couple of markets or not promoted through other advertising before they launch nationwide. You are also correct in that, a small business or individual entrepreneur may not have the time. And yes, that is when smart business people reach outside of their core competencies to experts in areas they are weak. It’s only the foolish who believe they can do everything at a high level.

      A couple of points: One, I think small business can scale the R&D process like the larger corporations do to investigate, but then must put marketing muscle behind the effort to make the “experiment” payoff like the big boys do. Two, I do believe that by establishing what you want to learn and why is necessary before you begin your experimenting. It’s very much like science. They start out with a premise to either prove or disprove so at least they know when they’ve understood and got what they came there to learn in the first place. Granted, experiments create unexpected results and one must allow for that. But by having a strategy on the outset, you can go back and see why or why not your assumptions were correct or not correct and that helps learning in a focused way and not have a shotgun effect.

      In the end, the main driver is how do you know when you get there if you don’t know where you’re going? That’s what strategy clarifies. Finally, it becomes more expensive, over time, just trying a bunch of things without a plan. Strategy helps in spending discipline.

      I read your blog from time to time and enjoy your passion and love for what you do.

  2. Good to see your site is back up today, when it didn’t work yesterday I thought something bad might have happend.

  3. I don’t know what happened, but it’s up and running. Must have been an issue on WordPress’ part.

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