Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics: The Gap Left by Conventional Marketing Education

February 16, 2016 | Andrea Lechner-Becker | 1 Comment |

When most people think about marketing strategy, they picture an amorphous aura of perceived brilliance created in a flash. A big bang catalyzed by the unstructured energy of failed marketing initiatives.

Pundits, analysts and consultants love and exploit the innate ambiguity of this vision. To most, strategy seems veiled in darkness, always just out of reach. There’s idea and then there’s technology. Strategy seems to remain undefined as the excitement of ideation brushes past it in the hurried search for results.

Having said this, and being a consultant, it may seem as though my shift in role and title within LeadMD to Chief Strategy Officer means that I revel in the struggle to define what strategy is.

Truth is, strategy has never been amorphous to me, but rather very clear and very much tied to tactics.

A large client of ours restructured a couple of years ago under the common misconception that strategy and tactic could be divided, yet still work together. The decision to split their marketing team into a strategy arm and an execution arm was, at the time, something I described as one of the worst ideas I’d ever heard.

Today, it stands as the single largest cluster f*ck I’ve ever witnessed. This poor organization had “strategists” performing “strategery” with no understanding of what was possible in a tactical sense.

And who jointly owned the strategic and executional analysis of what was working and what was not? No one.

Imagine the accountability standoff: teams of worked-to-the-bone, executional fingers pointing definitively at slews of snotty, strategic fingers pointing back at them.

Ultimately, the strategy side couldn’t coach the executional teams on how to build the tactics to generate the insights to make decisions, while the executional teams never really understood the why behind their actions.

Like I said, cluster.

So, if performing vague, smoke-and-mirrors strategery isn’t what I’ll be doing, what the hell is a Chief Strategy Officer at LeadMD?

The best way to explain that is to think of me as a bridge. Of course the smartest, funniest, snarkiest human bridge you’ve ever seen.

The strategy I’ve historically focused on is how to take great, conceptual ideas and translate them into tactics that work — a bridge, if you will, between strategy and execution.

This bridge notion is core to what LeadMD aims to do everyday with our services, but in 2016 we are Taking. It. Up. A. Notch. And a half. Maybe even two notches or three or FIVE.

In short, my new charge is to become a bridge between classic, higher education and real-mother-f*cking life.

Have you spoken to a recent college graduate?

Have you spoken to him or her about marketing? If you’re having a down day and want a quick pick-me-up, do it. You’ll feel like the smartest person on the planet.

Modern marketing has a huge issue: there are NOT a lot of people trained to be truly great marketers. In our purview, the definition of a “great modern marketer” is someone who “gets” both sides – a strategic voice that can get shit done.

These people barely exist and if they do, they are almost impossible to find.

My strategic role within LeadMD (and perhaps higher purpose in the universe) is to try to fix that. In 2016, I will lead modern marketing training that turns recent graduates into lean, mean, revenue-driving machines.

We are beyond excited for a new dawn in modern marketing. See you on the other side!

1 Comment

  1. Ashir Badami on February 18, 2016 at 5:21 am

    I don’t think there’s a scarcity of marketing professionals out there who can do this. It’s more a case of institutions refusing to look at marketing as a strategic asset and entity. As they say, everyone in organization thinks they’re an expert marketer, which leads to marketing departments being bombarded by inputs. Experience is a big part of being able to build true strategy and college grads just don’t have that life experience so if you’re looking there you may need to adapt your recruiting approach. I think a more important and essential question is not “what is strategy?” but how do we alter the role that marketing plays in strategy? It’s high time we start understanding that developing strategy is not the core of the problem. It’s the total lack of understanding that the role of strategy is not simply to yield a tactical plan: it’s to create competitive advantage.

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