Every successful Business has a Strategy – Right?
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
There’s a variety of definitions for “Strategy”, most referencing war in the military sense. And yet we find the term “strategy” prevalently used relative to business. Might be why some relate business to battle?
In current times, strategy making is not about devising a strategy, it’s about considering all of the potential scenarios of how things may end up, pandemic related or otherwise, and developing different strategies to engage depending on what happens. So, if it turns out that prevailing circumstances don’t support rallying around Strategy A, then go to the shelf and pull off Strategy B or Strategy C. Being that kind of prepared and ready is a strategy in it of itself! And that kind of what do we do if foresight and planning is what surviving and thriving businesses are doing. Some call it pivot strategies.
Today’s businesses are acutely aware of the importance of new age strategy skills. They are hiring and realigning for it. And they are incorporating marketing research with greater propensity to direct accuracy and support more successful outcomes.
Many marketing campaigns developed a year ago had to be radically revised, and many were altogether scrapped. Not just because they may have featured scenes of maskless people in close proximity to each other, or carefree travelers, but because the heartbeat of this nation changed so radically, and the afore produced messaging was so disconnected – could even be perceived as irreverent considering the circumstances.
Business strategist and marketers alike have become well versed in the art of nimble strategy, which isn’t completely attributed to pandemic conditioning. The Opportunity Abounds When You’re Nimble philosophy lives in pre-pandemic stories like how Fairfax City suddenly found themselves the home of the Mystics WNBA home championship games, totally unplanned, and how they quickly launched an action plan to capitalize on the situation.
Leaders that use strategy as a methodology tend to utilize certain skills over a long period of time, eventually providing great influence on followers, co-workers, and teams. They are bold and not afraid to think outside of the mainstream with instinct, vision, and insights to not just see the future, but define it.
The idea that strategies, like missions, should be carved in stone is thought to be somewhat stone-aged. An apropos quote is that of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross—”always be changing” which seems to be a common embrace of a variety of notable strategic leaders of the past century; Dwight Eisenhower, tony Blair, Wayne Gretzky, Martha Stewart, Howard Hughes, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Ai WeiWei, Lee Iacocca, Steven Spielberg.
An interesting example of circumstance driven strategy is that of Match.com, the popular online dating platform. It may be a surprise to learn that in the midst of the pandemic, the online dating industry had a banner year in 2020. And, in December Match.com put its tongue firmly in cheek, and launched an ad campaign that featured the “devil” matching with a temperamental woman known simply as “2020,” and had the gumption to use the tagline “A match made in hell” in the spots. While sure, it’s racy, it’s also empathetic in a humorous way.
Another brand that created opportunity from situation is KITKAT, who really lucked out with its “Have a break, have a KITKAT” tagline in 2020, as most of us were hoping for a break. The candy’s latest print ad is of an online meeting calendar filled with Zoom calls, except for two blocks of times that are simply KITKAT bars. The brilliance of the ad is the play on words, the double entendre speaking to the break, as in time out, and the construct of the candy bar, which has been the star in many of their ads. It’s a perfect example of a brand infusing humor and empathy into their ad that wouldn’t have made much sense only a year earlier.
And then a good example of a not so great outcome is Jeep who took another tack with its Super Bowl LV commercial featuring Bruce Springsteen. The intent of the ad was to acknowledge friction between political sides, while imploring us to find a way to mend fences. It proved didactic and polarizing, and earned low scores by the emotion-AI company Realeyes. In other words, it was a big swing and miss for Jeep, as the can’t-we-all-just-get-along messaging proved too difficult or, at the very least, too soon. No humor, no empathy, no dice. Did Jeep do their research? We don’t know. But what we do know is that a good strategy continually builds on itself and is fueled by a learning engine. It is data-and-information based so that it can respond to a changing market.
~ Marketing Workshop