What is strategy and why is it important?
Referencing Michael Porter’s “Competitive Strategy”, Lafley & Martin in “Play to Win” define strategy as “an integrated set of choices that uniquely positions the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage and superior value relative to the competition.” “At the heart of strategy is deciding where to play and how you will win there.”
In Blue Ocean Strategy, Kim and Mauborgne, push this thinking further “to create uncontested new market space and break away from the competition.” “A strategic move is the set of managerial actions and decisions involved in making a major market-creating business offering”.
In Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, Rumelt writes that “The core of strategy work is always the same: discovering the critical factors in a situation and designing a way of coordinating and focusing actions to deal with those factors”. “A good strategy identifies the biggest challenges to forward progress and devises a coherent approach to overcoming them.”
We combine all of these aspects into developing the strategy for your business, brand and marketing.
The key is focus. It is not a plan of all the strategies and activities that you need to do to achieve your objectives. (That comes next). It is the strategic choice of the most important levers to pull that will achieve the aspirations for your organisation or part of the organisation.
The difference between business, brand and marketing strategy
For business strategy, choices are broader across the whole business from manufacturing and R&D, finance and purchasing, people and target market, product and sales. In some organisations this sits with the CEO or GM of a business area. In others where the brand owns the P&L such as in FMCG, this can sit with marketing at a brand and/or category level.
Brand strategy is more closely related to the aspirational market position of the brand, where your customers are coming from to fulfil your aspirations and what your brand needs to do/how your brand needs to behave to get there.
Marketing strategy involves targeting and positioning, the purchasing funnel and 4-7Ps (product, service, price, place, promotion, people, process).
It is important to note that business, brand and marketing strategy are not exclusive, and it will depend on the type of organisation and which section of the organisation we’re working with to determine which one or ones we need to develop.
Marketing strategy levers often form part of business strategy levers. If you look at Porter’s Wheel of Competitive Strategy, Target markets, Product line and Marketing are potential business strategy levers that are immediately obvious as Marketing strategy levers.
Play to Win shows a diagram of nested choice cascades for corporate, strategic group and individual business whereby brand-level choices influence category-level choices that influence company-level choices. This is a great way to think about how your strategies build to the organisation level business strategy.
How we go about it
We will usually develop business, brand and marketing strategy as part of a bigger project – positioning and/or planning – conducted as an interactive workshop with desk work pre and post. The workshop can also work as standalone.
Please contact us to discuss further what we can do for you.