The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men?

November 27th, 2006   •   no comments   

Planning versus execution. There is an age-old debate about which is more important in marketing. Should strategy take precedence over implementation? Similarly, which is of greater significance – the general’s plans or the warriors tactics?

I believe that increasingly, ivory towers “strategic marketing” ain’t gonna cut the ice. Poring over numerous analytical reports and market research alone will not do. AC Nielsen may have the best coverage of traditional marketing channels but have you read what people are talking about you on hardwarezone’s forums? How about what the taxi drivers are saying behind your backs?

The best marketers will blend both strategy and tactics. You need to transcend from Heaven to Earth (and maybe even Purgatory occasionally). You need to be down and dirty to draw your crowd. Better yet if you can be seen to be like one of the boys (or girls).

As we move into the world of web 2.0 and the accompanying social media revolution, people will yearn for authenticity, relevance and 1-to-1 dialogue. Increasingly, relationships are going to count more than just clever creatives, “killer copy”, and maximum reach.

People are not going to like being deceived by advertising and sales pitches disguised as entertainment, education, or even enlightenment (heard of TV evangelists?). They want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (so help us God).

Blogging guru and advocate Shel Israel has an elegant term – conversational marketing -which suggests that marketing may become more like talking to friends in candid, open and honest ways.

You need to listen more. You need to read what others are saying about you (if at all). You need to probe and ask around before you can find out the answers. You also need to be real and not a phoney. People can sniff that out quickly from a mile away.

Of course, building relationships take more personal time and effort than throwing out a FPFC ad in the main dailies. New social technologies can help to hasten the process – blogs, podcasts, forums, vlogs, and so on. However, at the end of the day, it is still about personal engagements.

The new world of marketing doesn’t necessarily have to happen only on the web. In fact, many of these ideas have been around for ages – long before the PC was invented. Relationship marketing can take place in the real world wherever you are – coffee shops, homes, restaurants, offices, religious places etc.

What you need to do is to start a conversation and talk about what stirs up your passion about your product or service. Spread the word in a sincere manner and encourage your associates to pass it around. Lunch with key channel partners, drink with important stakeholders, or tete-a-tete with special interest groups.

You may be surprised at how much more effective this may be.

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going….”

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