Blueprints, marketing strategy, and execution

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

Take a look at this house:


This is from 1921, when you could order a house (or at least all the materials to build one) from a Sears Roebuck catalog.

Despite being almost 100 years old, this house plan is still practical today. You might make a few materials changes, and some minor specifications might need to be altered to be compliant with modern building codes. For the most part though, you could build and live in this century-old design today.

Why? Fundamentally, the house meets all of the basic requirements of what a house is supposed to do. It accomplishes the big picture goals quite handily. Protection from the elements? Check. Comfort? Sure. It may not be palatial, but it’s better than a tent. Attractive? Maybe not out of the box, but lived in for a while, it could be the centerpiece of a wonderful garden.

Now think about the things that wouldn’t be in this 1921 design. No wi-fi, probably no telephones in general. No air conditioning. May or may not have been wired for electricity; anything in a Sears Roebuck catalog was targeted at suburban and rural areas.

Are any of these conveniences insurmountable? Of course not. They’re minor tweaks and add-ons to the house as a whole and they don’t substantially change the purpose of the house.

What does this have to do with marketing? Marketing folks lately (especially the growth hacker movement) are fond of saying that strategy is worthless. Strategy is unnecessary. Strategy is too static, too inflexible, too difficult for an agile, digital landscape.

What’s fundamentally wrong is confusion of strategy and execution.

The strategy of marketing is to generate leads within a certain timeframe that sales can sell to. The strategy of marketing is to position the company as a leader so that it’s the first and only choice for your customers.

When you view strategy through this lens, you realize it’s just like the house framework above. You can adapt the tactical implementation and execution endlessly. You can choose channels, methods, budgets, etc. to infinity. At the end of the day however, you’ve either generated enough leads for sales or you haven’t. Your company is a category leader or it isn’t.

Don’t be too hasty in your disregard for marketing strategy. It’s difficult to do, but it’s even more difficult to be successful without it.

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