How to Build a Strategy

Johnny Molson

In last week’s article, I told you How to Build a Cathedral.  Your campaign (cathedral) is made up of many ads (bricks) that have been arranged according to a strategy (or blueprint).


That’s not the hard part.  The hard part is coming up with that strategy.

You develop a strategy with 3 deceivingly easy questions:

Who are you talking to?

What are your objectives?

How will you position your company in their minds?

Who, What, and How are easy questions to ask.  Astoundingly difficult to answer.

Who:     When you ask “who,” you are trying to understand them as humans.  Outdated “demographics” will not give you this answer.  What do these people value?  Why do they make the decisions they do?  What do they have in common?  What don’t they have in common with those not in this segment?

I’m serious about the “demographics” thing.  Stop saying it, stop using it, stop leaning on it.  It’s thin information that will get you nowhere.  It’s an amateur’s crutch used by sloppy marketing people.  Go deeper.  You can do it.  Correction:  You must.

What:   What are your objectives?  (If you just said “to sell people stuff,” you’re probably still peddling demographics.)  There could be any number of things that need to happen in a marketing strategy.  Are you changing perceptions?  Are you bolstering one product line over another? I.E.: A bank may choose to promote checking accounts as a way to (ultimately) get more car loans.  Are you addressing something internal?  Is this a quick promotion?  Is it long term brand building?

How:  How will you position your company in their minds?  This is going to take some studying of your competition.  First, who is your competition?  The local firms doing the same thing you are.  The national firms doing the same things you are.  The alternative of not doing business with you.  “Time” might be your competition.  Now that you’ve identified your competition… what position do they hold?  Luxury?  Fast-n-Cheap?  Heritage?  New and innovative?  You can slice it 78 different ways, but don’t get paralyzed by it.  What’s missing?  What’s open?  When you’ve identified it, how do you plan to dramatize your place in the mind of the consumer?

This is work.  It’s more work than “I have a clever idea for an ad.”  Most businesses owners “have a clever idea for an ad,” and never go any further.  But, you’re not most business owners.  Identifying your strategy, and aligning your tactics to that strategy is something few businesses have the patience (and stomach) for.   I would wager that businesses in your town that seem to be on top of their game and are known for something, are likely the ones that have built a strategy.

Do you have one?  If not, build one.


Your competition has probably already started.

Johnny Molson

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