September 17, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Keeping it straight: Vision, strategy, tactics

Ron Stein | 2/2/2014

I grew up in Florida and never had the chance to follow ice hockey. Maybe I should start. It seems that it has a lot of things in common with football and marketing -- both, favorite activities of mine. One I watch and the other I actively participate in.

Wayne Gretzky, former professional ice hockey player and head coach, said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” 

This is so obvious that you’re probably tempted to stop here. But, is the significance of this message taken to heart by most business owners and executives?

You could argue that zeroing in on the puck is like going after your target audience. Know who they are and where they will be, and then go get in front of them. Yet, that’s a bit of strategy mixed in with a bunch of tactics.

Let’s back up a couple of steps. There’s a big emphasis in marketing on strategy -- or at least there should be. After all, it’s not possible to have an effective tactical effort if the strategy it’s based on is weak or non-existent. It just won’t work.

Yet, before you dive into developing a strategy, you’ll need to know what you want to accomplish. That requires deciding where you want to be at a certain point in the future. It’s your vision of what needs to happen and when that needs to occur.

Sure, both vision and strategy are important. But vision always comes first. Then strategy comes before tactics. Every time. Yet, most people confuse vision, strategy, and tactics.

Your vision. This just might be the hardest part -- well, aside from executing on your action plan. Start with what you want your business to be. It’s OK to dream, yet, keep in mind what Diana Scharf Hunt, author and time-management guru, said, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Your vision can be linked to revenue growth, new products or services, geographical reach, market share, sales team over-quota production, or anything that you want to achieve. Just make sure your can measure it. Create a vision statement and write it down -- post it for everyone to see. Get crystal clear on your vision before your worry about strategies and tactics.

Your strategy. It’s not quite as simple as thinking that vision is the “what” and strategy is the “how”. Don’t get caught in the trap of using your vision as your strategy and jumping right into activities (tactics) because getting going as fast as you can feels good. A bunch of tactics in the absence of a well thought out strategy is a waste of your time and money. Strategic marketing is a framework for creating and delivering the value that’s important to your target customers. A strategy takes into account who your customers are, competitive information, what’s the clear positioning that differentiates your business from others, where prospects hang out, the different ways to reach customers, and how to determine the effectiveness of the all the hundreds of tactics you’ll consider.

Meet Ron Stein at free event
Ron Stein speaking at seminar

What: Workshop on "How to Build an Irresistible Brand and Outsell Your Competition"

When: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (EST)

Where: USF CONNECT- Oak View Room - USF Research Park, 3720 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa, FL 33620

Please RSVP by February 11 at 5:00 PM. Go to this website to register, and for more information.

Your tactics. So, how exactly will you will achieve your strategy and when? A Strategy is an idea of how the vision can be achieved, while tactics are actions you take to execute the strategy. Your action plan is the real “how”. Get specific on the tactics for your most pressing needs, all within your strategic framework. That forces you to chose tactics that are strategic -- causing you to spend your limited time and money more effectively. Details matter. Lay out precisely what you need to make it all happen. Include key deliverables, what resources are necessary, team roles and responsibilities, outside vendors required, marketing channels needed, timelines, and of course your budget. Now you’re cooking!

If you have a clear vision, you will build the right strategy. Not having a clear vision is an invitation for disaster. No strategy will be good enough. No tactic will save you.

Oh, there’s one more thing ice hockey, football, and marketing all have in common -- they’re all definitely contact sports!

Charge ahead and be fearless.

(Comments welcome -- post using the field below.)


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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