When you think you need to attract more prospects to your business, you probably think first about how much money you can afford to spend and, second, the type of ads you think your best prospects will notice. You then meet with an advertising agency that helps you write the ad and recommends the media to use to get the most bang for the buck with your advertising dollars.
It all sounds perfectly logical until you realize you’re not getting much of a return for all your dollars spent. Your agency may tell you’re getting great results because they managed to get your ad on a host of radio stations for a great price, but what you care about is sales.
The reason you get such a lousy return on your ads is that you’re missing a process of identifying the characteristics of your prospects, the message they need to hear to take action, and a system for building a path to you for your customers to follow.
That’s all about strategy. Without it, your ad agency is shooting in the dark. It’s like going to a doctor who asks you what you think the problem is, and without examining you discusses the possibility of giving you aspirin, several prescriptions, and maybe even surgery to solve it. Without understanding the specific need, you can’t develop a good strategy. And without a strategy, you’re left sorting through a list of actions that may or may not have any relevance to the problem.
Strategies or Tactics?
Unfortunately, when you mention strategy to your ad agency, they think of how to allocate your money for various advertising options and you’re given an analysis of TV, radio, and newspaper ads. That process may seem fairly strategic to you, but really it’s tactical. Without strategy, you’re missing the most important piece of the process—the front-end—where you do market research, determine how to move current buyers away from competitors and to you in higher numbers, make a plan to help future buyers ultimately decide they have to buy from you, create messages that resonate with each type of buyer, and make an offer so compelling that buyers find it difficult to turn it down.
Think of strategy as the master plan that considers a variety of important factors including opportunities and available resources based on an understanding of prospect wants and needs. Consider tactics as the means of executing the strategy, or, the actions to carry it out to meet those wants or needs. Strategy provides the direction; tactics take the allocated resources and puts them to the best use to support the strategy.
Order Provides Meaning
Once you have a great strategy, tactics are easier to determine particularly since they are the forte of many advertising agencies, so writing ad content and deciding where to place ads can be done with purpose, not guesswork. When agencies try to develop tactics without a well-developed strategy, they will always struggle to hit your target market just like a doctor would struggle to cure an illness by focusing on treatments without knowing the real needs of his clients.