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10 principles to creating a better marketing strategy

10 principles to creating a better marketing strategy

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Published by Jason Ball
Article outlining the 10 core principles every marketer should follow when creating strategy.

Written by Jason Ball – www.12thday.co.uk
Article outlining the 10 core principles every marketer should follow when creating strategy.

Written by Jason Ball – www.12thday.co.uk

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Jason Ball on Mar 26, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Twelfth Day

10 principles to better strategy

Let’s get one thing straight – creating strategy isn’t easy. Or to be more accurate, creating good strategy isn’t easy. By good I mean the kind of strategy that gives you a tangible advantage over your competitors. It seems curious then that so many marketers and their agencies make the process so much more difficult by ignoring the simple principles that underpin good strategic thinking – the principles followed by top strategic thinkers the world over. The following represents 10 core principles every marketer should consider before they get anywhere near a whiteboard marker or a PowerPoint deck.

1: Principle of purpose

Many strategies go off the rails right at the very beginning because their creators fail to spend enough time articulating precisely what the problem is and what success looks like. Importantly, you should also check your assumptions about the ‘facts’ of the situation as well as spending some time thinking about what is not the problem (ie what is simply irrelevant or a distraction). Once you are clear on the objectives, prioritise. All objectives are not created equal. If you achieve just one thing with your strategy, what should it be?

2: Principle of initiative

Too many strategies are reactive – knee-jerk reactions to market events and perceived threats. Of course there is nothing wrong with reacting to the market but it is far preferable to act than react. Your strategies should seek to drive the market and its agenda. If you have to defend a position, do so only until you can go back on the offensive.

3: Principle of flexibility

In war, they say, the first thing that goes out of the window is the plan. So plan for it. Hold fast to your broad strategic objectives (what military strategists call ‘the commander’s intent’) but be ultimately flexible on how you achieve them. Have a plan B (or at least have some back-up tactics ready to go). Try stuff. Experiment.

4: Principle of time

Time. Is it on your side? How does this affect your strategy? What would it take to act so fast that no competitor could successfully counter? Alternatively, can you play a waiting game if you have to?

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5: Principle of concentration

Few companies (if any) have unlimited resources. This means that it is impractical to try to be all things to all people or to fight every battle on multiple fronts. Instead, focus your resources. Fight the battles you can win. Better still make the battle about something else altogether (see the Principle of Initiative above). Use most resources where you can achieve the greatest success. Play a holding game elsewhere.

6: Principle of surprise

Refuse to be predictable. Keep your competitors off guard. Keep your customers guessing (Apple is the master of this approach). Be audacious. Look at how you can disrupt market conventions. What can you do to distract attention away from your competitors? Be sneaky.

7: Principle of simplicity

As they used to say in aircraft design, “keep it simple stupid” (the origin of the KISS acronym). A complex strategy is usually a poor strategy. It is best to work on the premise that whatever can go wrong probably will. With a complex, multipart strategy, there is more scope for things to go wrong.

8: Principle of unity

Good strategies die in committees. Have a limited number of people making the decisions. Make sure those people are qualified to do so. But also ensure you have a diverse set of opinions so that you avoid the perils of group-think.

9: Principle of morale

Simply, you must believe you can win. This means that you have to sell in your strategy to the wider organisation (especially sales). They need to believe in the approach so that they can get behind it. Too many strategies fail at the implementation stage because their creators forget this.

10: Principle of asymmetry

Asymmetric strategies are those for which there is no credible response. They defeat the competitors’ strategic imaginations. They can best be summed up in a quote from the late Anita Roddick, “Do what others can’t or won’t.”

I hope you found this paper useful. For more thinking and resources, visit www.12thday.co.uk.

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