If Content Is the Muscle, Strategy Has To Be The Brain.
There's a severe problem happening in businesses these days - the race to content.
That means, let's get content out there, let's fill up our social feeds with stuff that everyone else is talking about or we talk about internally, at the water coolers (do they still have those) and everyone leaves the meeting feeling they are "pulling the corporate line".
But a lot of this content (not all) makes customers fall asleep.
Unless you have a strategy that is compelling (and pick which level of strategy you need to be working on: corporate, business, marketing, advertising, etc., you are wasting your money.
At it's core, "strategy" is a intellectual capability in your team that allows you to control as much of the future as humanly possibly by making choices. You can't control it all! But you can make interesting decisions to affect it all, over a time horizon, that makes sense for your category and your brand, then listen, adapt and optimize!
I recently sat in a webcast with Roger Martin, Rotman, and a keen colleague from IDEO, my favourite company in the world, discussing this topic. Some of the key ideas coming out of Roger's mouth include the following:
1. The best way to manage the future is to control it, as best as you can;
2. Understand that everyone in your organization makes strategic choices everyday, so you better get them on the same page, or else;
3. Recognize that the father of critical thinking Aristotle, knew the limitations of his "critical thinking" framework and he knew for some categories, looking at the creative possibilities was equally important;
4. Understand who in your category is better situated to invent the future and preempt them.
And if you can bring your customers into the conversation, and bring analytic thinking together with creative thinking, you can adjust and respond in real time while gaining valuable, company wide, knowledge assets.
How many of us have sat in the back of a taxi these days because you didn't feel like waiting for an Uber, saying to our wife, friend, other half,"I see paying is a friction point". Or say "you know that moment when I have to judge this other human with a monetary valuation of his or her life is worth 15%, 18% or 20%"? Or lastly, none of us wanting to be the last out of the cab only to be the last into the restaurant or bar, with the worst seat. We could have solved this. The taxi industry could have solved this. And which business wants to be the next taxi industry casualty? So be customer centric.
One of the benefits of technology in marketing, as Scott Brinker would outline, through Growth Hacking, is businesses' ability to try stuff, optimize, adjust, try again, at light speed, with little cost and little pain.
If you have some design thinking, cultural anthropological research to your business, you might realize that you have more brains about your business than muscle. But you have to decide.
All companies have the potential to "punch about their weight". What separates those that do and those that don't is the upfront thinking through the many levels of strategy.