Marketing Strategy

Executing Marketing Strategy by Default

If you’ve not taken the time to map out a marketing strategy, what you may not realise is that you’ve developed a strategy by default. But is it the right one?

Every day I speak to businesses who deploy tactical marketing efforts without a strategy. They jump in before asking WHY they are jumping in the first place.

If they were able to sit back, watch themselves jump and see how their jumping tactics are viewed by others, they might think twice before jumping. Whether you realise it or not, a lack of a strategy is a strategy by default.

Here are 4 common default marketing strategies that I’ve seen during my 21 years in marketing management.

Copy the competition but try to stand out more

This is the scenario where marketing is needed and an agency or even the in-house team are asked to deliver. Nine times out of ten, the agency doesn’t receive a great brief that enables them to use their creative talents to the fullest. With the lack of a brief, they’ll probably do some research, look at what your competitors do then come up with something that hopefully visually stands out more.

The danger here is what is your marketing communicating? Are you innovative and pushing the boundaries, or are you like all the others?

Creative agencies are great at being creative. But they are also on the clock. Their fees tend to be based on the amount of time they allocate to a task. So if you’ve squeezed them on cost, they are squeezing you on creative thinking time. I’ve worked with many and have a lot of respect for them.

What I do know is that they come up trumps for you when the brief is detailed and clear. A number of my clients use creative agencies. I act as the go between, managing the marketing and making sure the agency has what they need to do a great job – a clear brief that supports a strategic plan. This requires taking the time to understand not just what you want them to do, but why they are doing it in the first place.

Likewise with an in-house team, if they don’t have a plan to work to, they default to doing what the competition does, but trying to do it better.

The shotgun

This is where you fire off a bunch of tactics and hope that you’ll hit something. A little bit of advertising, maybe a few blogs, some social media for a month before it dwindles off, some email campaigns. But they don’t work so you stop. The full page ads that bleed your budget and result in no return. Maybe even some radio ads for a couple of months. Oh, don’t forget the PPC campaigns that you switch on an off until you decide they don’t work. Usually, this technique is sporadic. And because it is sporadic. It just won’t work.

If the shot gun approach is your strategy, you are bailing out on campaigns before they have a chance to produce a return.

Recently, I had someone from an agency call me for advice because the promotion they put on a client’s website resulted in 2500 enquiries requesting a free sample.  They weren’t ready for this and the client wasn’t ready to meet the demand for 2500 samples. Instead of seeing the amazing success and the opportunity here, they switched it off, leaving a rather poor impression for all those prospects that didn’t get their free sample. Had they targeted the activity, and thought it through in advance, they would have some great new customers.

Paper the world

Now this is a phrase I learned years ago from a former employer. He wanted his marketing to be seen everywhere. This is the strategy that doesn’t involve targeting. Everyone is a potential customer. The downside to this approach is that you’ll turn people off if your messages are not relevant to them. You’ll create a SPAM reputation. And you’ll waste budget.

So if you’ve not carefully defined your target market, this default strategy of tell everyone, is costing you money.

Word of mouth

This is one we all know well. It’s free and it’s easy. Companies with small budgets rely heavily on this strategy. Unfortunately, on its own it is ineffective. I recently posted a message on Facebook looking for a wedding shop so I could find a bridesmaid dress for my daughter. I posted this in a group where I know there are LOADS of bridal companies. I simply asked for them to post some pictures, which would of course also enables them to show off their stock. A few people recommended some shops. So word of mouth in action. But not a single business followed up on the referral that they had received.

Word of mouth alone is not enough, You’ve got to do your bit too.

Define your Marketing Strategy

All marketing efforts need to send a clear consistent message, over and over again to get your target audience to take action. Without a plan, it’s nearly impossible to be consistent. Strategic thinking and planning also help you find ways to increase the value of your product or service without having to discount or give anything away that takes away from your bottom line. You simply make more money by doing the same things you already do well. But don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions in developing your strategy.

Entrepreneurs who develop a strategy and map out a plan for their teams to follow will leave their competitors chasing after them, while others will simply complain that marketing is too expensive or it just doesn’t drive results.

Do you want to develop a marketing strategy for your business? Give us a call and let’s chat. We can provide the support you need to get your marketing headed in the right direction. Contact us on 01206 646 006. 

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