Your marketing strategy is only as good as your team

Your marketing strategy is only as good as your team

Strategy isn’t something you write down, it’s something you do. So who’s going to do it?

Business people love strategies.

But often when people talk about their ‘strategy’, what they really mean is a piece of paper – or to be a little more precise, a PowerPoint document or a PDF – nicely written, beautifully laid out and impressively presented at that meeting a few months back.

What really matters, of course, is what happens next. Strategies aren’t things you write down, they’re things you do. They don’t exist on paper, they exist in people. So how are you going to implement that strategy and – crucially – who is going to help you do it?

Sophia Ahrel, an independent marketing strategist who works with companies of all sizes, says: “There is a risk of building a fantastic strategy that is never executed, because it sits in isolation and isn’t embedded. The mistake people make is to see planning and strategy as a separate exercise they have to do – it’s a tick in a box, something you have to report to the board or the leadership team, and that’s your job done.”

The most important aspect of a successful marketing strategy, Ahrel says, is that it’s “easy to execute on”. In other words, it has to be do-able. She sees her job as “making sure that whatever goes into the strategy and planning exercise feeds into employees’ day-to-day lives and is relevant to the customer experience”.

Key to this is having the right team to implement the strategy – people who not only have the skills and experience, but who are engaged with the process and feel a part of it.

That means getting the team involved, and how you go about that depends on the size and nature of your organisation. “In a small business, it’s important that everybody in the business is involved,” says Ahrel. “Not just the customer-facing teams, everybody from the CEO down. There have to be no barriers and misalignments. That way, everybody knows what the brand values are and why they’re there.

“You have to define what everybody’s role in the strategy is. For a marketing director, it’s important to work alongside the finance director, obviously, and the chief technology officer, HR, all the management levels…to make sure that this is now in people’s front-of-mind, so it becomes embedded in the organisation.”

In larger organisations, the job of bringing everyone together – often including a disparate ecosystem of third-party partners alongside the in-house team – is a more difficult one, but today’s cloud-based collaboration tools can be a big help.

“Anybody who is customer-facing should have ownership of a part of the marketing strategy,” says Ahrel. “It’s important that the CEO endorses it, and maybe even the board, so it becomes part of what people in an organisation perceive as important.”

Not only is your team crucial to your marketing plan, a strong marketing plan could turn out to play a key role in helping you build and retain your team. Implementing a strategy that successfully gets everyone engaged and gives them purpose, Ahrel says, can improve talent retention and ease tensions between teams, making staff more loyal and more productive.

Strategy isn’t a box-ticking exercise, or something separate to the day-to-day. It’s a performative set of practical instructions, and it is consummated in action and based in real-world capabilities. The next time you need to review your marketing strategy, think about spending less time with the document and more time talking to your team about how it will be implemented.

Robert Bain Freelance Writer and Editor CPL
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