So, when I started out in this big, bold world of marketing and digital, I focused on the tactics, the services. I wanted to relieve the burden of my client. The “I’ll take care of that for you!” girl. It was awesome. In the early days of digital marketing, websites and marketing, clients were convinced all this “web stuff” was magic. And me, a magician. The more clients I had, the larger the economies of scale, the broader my talent grew. Over the years I grew a wide repertoire in the space. I gained invaluable tools that allowed me good judgement for clients’ tactical needs. I experimented, I developed Best Practices. I grew. I made mistakes. The saying is true:
Good judgement comes from experience. And, experience, that mostly comes from bad judgement.
Having been blessed to work with great companies that afforded me multi-level work with lots of clients, patterns emerged. Not just the tactical patterns, strategic observations. Then, self-serve services came to pass. I gravitated towards speaking about this time, and did less “doing the what” and inspiring the “why”. It was advantageous for me, personally, because I had done the “what”, my advice carried a authenticity to it that few other competitors could relate. More and more, my role became the strategist, the chick that pointed a program in the direction of unique, albeit, predictable success. I wanted a pure strategy company, a think tank. The problem? As I peddled strategy, the clients still wanted the work done for them. That’s cool, I can do that blindfolded. And, hey it’s their money. For 8 years I ran my own services company. A cracker-jack team of smart marketers, we saw explosive success. I still yearned for the pure strategy position. It was a hard sale. Though, there was no shortage of good business, I was a boutique firm, and lacked the impressive staff numbers to sell strategy to the “vanity” clients.
Eventually, I closed my service business and said goodbye to the staff who had become family. It’s gratifying to watch how their careers have taken wings, and I hope that in some small part, I was a part of that trajectory. Flying solo, and digging deeper into what “strategy” meant, I realized I was not alone. All of a sudden, everyone was a strategist, a guru, a maven. Relentless in my pursuit to be the stand out, I’ve come to know there are a handful of important habits the really incredible strategist does. When cultivating these, I felt I had read my palm, my destiny stared back at me with glaring apparence.
Great Strategy makes you care.
Motivation is like bathing, it’s a habit. Whatever the goal might be, great strategy makes you want to do more than ‘keep your job”. I’ve always said, “Every cause needs a rebel”. Good strategy turns goals into causes. It permeates the organization from top-down, bottom-to-top. This thing, it gets a hold of you and becomes part of your DNA until accomplished. Great strategy doesn’t just identify the prescription, it creates the drug that propels you to do the thing at all costs. Check out my post on motivation.
Great Strategy breaks the system.
If you are playing catch up with the competition, why not imagine something better? It takes the same effort, the same resources to leapfrog past status quo and “break the system” to create a wholly new thing to exceed goals. Great strategists don’t see roadblocks, they know that resourcefulness is the best resource, and they partner with you to become the insurgent brand that gets you there. They don’t reinvent the wheel, that bores them. They create self-driving cars.
Great Strategy digs in.
So many strategists “should” all over a client. Creating fancy PowerPoints and leaving you scratching your head is the hallmark of the average, IMO. Great strategists are great partners and coaches. They’ve lived in the tactical, and they know exactly what has to be performed. If they haven’t done it, how will you? Great strategists identify and remove roadblocks, inspire action and see it through. When I create strategy for a client, I’m their “ride or die” girl. What needs to be done, will be done.
Great Strategy is difficult to copy.
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery. Great strategy should be so groundbreaking that it’s near impossible to duplicate. The problem with using a “campaign idea” as strategy is that’s only advertising. It’s cheap, replicatable and end the end, drains your pocketbook with placement battles. Don’t outspend your competition, outsmart them. Campaigns aren’t strategy, they are vehicles. That is not a big idea, that’s lazy.
I still do the tactical thing, when called for, but there’s a new feeling associated with it. It’s inspired action instead of checking off boxes and time sheets. Being a strategist is a noble profession for me. It challenges my best and uses my “failures” as fuel.
I hope sharing my story has inspired you to recognize great strategy, and if you are unclear about yours…you know where I am. (^^,)