“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where-“ Alice responded. “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “-so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
– Lewis Carroll
hen I went to the dictionary to look up the word “strategy,” every definition related to war and battle. “The science or art of military command as applied to the overall planning and conduct of large-scale combat operations,” is the one favored by the American Heritage Dictionary. “The art or skill of using stratagems in endeavors such as politics and business,” is another. So I looked up “stratagems” in the hope of insight. What I found was “a military maneuverdesigned to deceive or surprise an enemy.” Strategy appears to be closely aligned with deception.
Roget’s Thesaurus was not much additional help. Strategy is the same as tactics and cunning in their book, which is a little closer to the way we need to look at it.
Clearly, the dictionary and thesaurus are not much help in defining the term strategy as it relates to small business marketing, so I was forced to make up a definition of my own. After nearly twenty years in working with business owners, I have come to define strategy as the overall objective that you want your marketing to accomplish. In other words, your strategy is the overarching purpose your marketing efforts must serve.
Still sounds a little vague, doesn’t it? In my next post, I will give you some examples of strategies that specific businesses use, so you can see them applied. You will also see how your strategy will determine the marketing tactics and tools which are more likely to produce results. It will all fit together to help you reduce the inherent risks in marketing and insure success.
I believe it is helpful to see vague concepts like strategy in graphic terms. For many years, I have used the analogy of an umbrella to help people in my classes to visualize strategy. If the advertising or marketing tool you are considering fits logically under the umbrella, then it has a good chance of succeeding. If it logically doesn’t match up, proceed at your own risk.
It will be up to you to develop your own strategy. Sorry, there’s no secret little book or resource to hand one over to you. This is your job. You have to figure it out. However, I will share several strategies which have worked for various businesses and perhaps yours fits into the same category.
Developing your strategy is based on how your target market thinks, the “culture” developed around your business, product or service and your own creative thinking.