Imagine setting off on a road trip without a destination in mind or GPS to guide your course. Pretty bonkers, right? Sure, some thrill-seekers might see this as the ultimate adventure, but most of us would agree it’s a recipe for disaster. At best, it’s pretty pointless. Without a clear target and a roadmap to get you there, you’re likely to meander aimlessly, hit dead ends and waste precious time and resources along the way.
Your strategy isn’t just a navigational tool; it’s a plan for change. Simply put, if you aren’t proposing a change and detailing a plan to execute that change, you haven’t developed a strategy.
To see a strategic change in action, look at B2B tech giant Siemens. In 2014, Siemens moved beyond its primary purpose of maximizing shareholder value to a mission of “serving society.” The plan, dubbed Vision 2020, shifted everything from the company’s culture to its marketing, steering Siemens into the future and reinforcing its presence in growing markets. While your organization might not be a multinational tech conglomerate, you can still emulate Siemens’ approach and chart a course that’s rooted in meaningful change.
Strategic Alignment First. Always.
“We need more content.”
“We’re ditching blog posts and going all-in on video.”
“Let’s try TikTok.”
Spoiler alert: None of these are strategies. But many marketers think they’re being strategic when they say such things. That’s not to say dabbling in new media or ramping up content creation aren’t valid ideas, but they are tactics. And it’s never a good idea to rush into the “how” without first establishing the “why.”
The initial step before you dive headlong into a new social platform or advertising campaign is to get real about the organization’s business objectives. No matter what the short- or long-term goals are, your content strategy must be aligned with your marketing strategy, which in turn must sync up with your overarching business strategy.
With alignment, everything works better.
Let’s dive into some of these benefits:
- Maximum impact: Marketing’s job is not to create marketing materials and sales collateral. It’s to create an environment that facilitates sales. When marketing is in the loop on the business strategy, the quality of its work rises (assuming competence!). This elevates the level of the impact, which lifts the business.
- Smart use of resources: You avoid wasting resources—time, budget, creative energy—on campaigns that do not serve a strategic purpose.
- Better brand recognition: Being intentional about brand consistency and cohesion reinforces your identity, messaging and values across all touchpoints. Consistency builds name recognition. It builds trust. It builds loyalty. It reassures people that even when change is afoot, your organization is reliable, and this alignment between what you promise and what you deliver creates credibility.
- Customer-centricity: An aligned approach ensures that your company’s marketing initiatives revolve around the customer experience, enabling you to collect, analyze and use customer data to create personalized campaigns, products and services. The result: improved customer engagement, retention and loyalty. Ultimately, it delivers a significant competitive edge.
- Adaptability and resilience: You build a buffer between your organization and the disruptive market forces that threaten to blow it off course. If all strategies are, at their core, plans for change, they must also be adaptable in the face of change. Market fluctuations often require quick adjustments; smart strategies provide the organizational flexibility needed for agility.
Marketing’s Unique Position
Marketers, as the creators and keepers of brand messaging, are in a prime position to drive change. We have access to both internal and external viewpoints; sure, everyone theoretically has this, but marketing’s seat is best for it.
But there’s more. We have to change. The B2B landscape is in constant flux, and a stagnant strategy is destined to fail in the face of near-constant upheaval.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, it must be actionable. A strategy that only exists on paper is nothing more than a pipe dream—or as Benjamin Franklin once put it, “Well done is better than well said.” So the strategy needs to detail how to execute the change.
Although we don’t know exactly what the next year may bring, we’re willing to bet plenty of disruption lies ahead. And when the market takes a left turn, your organizational priorities shift or you hit the inevitable bump in the road, you’ll be glad you have a good GPS.