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I have had several conversations with prospective clients recently where the plea seems to be the same, “We need a marketing strategy!”

However, when you dig deeper it appears that they are in strategy paralysis. Much like analysis paralysis, strategy paralysis stops businesses from moving forward. Of course you need a strategy. A strategy defines the rules of engagement — it should be in line with your business goals. But a strategy does not outline what your marketing efforts need to be to achieve those goals — that is the role of the marketing plan.

How much strategy you need will depend on the lifecycle of your business. A startup, for instance, needs room to experiment with various strategic directions and marketing tactics to find what will create traction. An established brand should have an overarching marketing strategy in place. One that will certainly be tweaked as business goals evolve year over year, but established brands should be spending more time analyzing what worked and what didn’t and revising their marketing plan accordingly.


Moreover, as marketing becomes more and more like curation, where you are taking the best and hardest working ideas and curating them into something unique, the tactics should be the most important focus. Strategy guides us, but the mix of tactics delivers the results and ultimately, that is what we marketers need to do — deliver results.

So, before you say, “I need a marketing strategy”, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I know what I need to accomplish?
  2. Do I know my target audience and what problem my brand/product solves for them?
  3. Do I know what my competition is doing?

If the answer is yes to all three, then you don’t need a strategy, you need a plan to get it done!

Gaynor Strachan Chun is Senior Partner at On Brand Management, a diverse problem-solving firm helping clients navigate today’s dynamic market by providing performance-driven solutions to sustain an organization’s stability and growth. Contact Gaynor at On Brand has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Washington, DC and Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL.

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