Approximate read time: 21 minutes
I offer marketing and sales strategy and implementation services to clients.
However, strategy and implementation are vastly different.
Don’t mess up the distinction…
Part of what I do is find out if a potential client wants and needs marketing and sales strategy, implementation or both.
Most of the time, they say one thing but mean something completely different.
And for the most part, it’s because they think they are one and the same and they don’t know the causative (I’ll discuss causation and correlation later on) value each brings to getting them more customers, more often.
Nevertheless, let’s have a look at some clichés about strategy and implementation…
In the technology hub of Silicon Valley, there is a saying that goes like this:
“Ideas are worthless – execution is everything.”
I disagree 100%.
I suspect this saying is perpetuated because there is a culture of not signing Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Thomas Edison’s quote is a little closer:
“Genius is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration.”
I’d say that strategy (inspiration) and execution (perspiration) is 50/50.
Think about this quote from Abraham Lincoln:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Suppose you want to get from Australia to New Zealand…
Your idea is to just start swimming across the Tasman.
I guarantee you’ll have 99% perspiration, but your genius level is about 1%.
Another idea may be to design and build a plane.
This metaphorically will spend four hours sharpening the axe and two hours chopping.
Much closer to 50/50 strategy and execution.
From an outcome (which I’ll discus later) perspective it was equal.
Yet from an input, activities and output perspective it objectively is a better strategy.
And on balance, it is a far better strategy.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but it’s pretty accurate for any marketing and sales.
Especially when we think about the Johari Window of Knowledge.
The Johari Window exponentially makes the percentage ratio go in favour of ideas over execution.
The Johari Window is a psychological tool developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham that helps someone become aware of their level of knowledge.
And it was popularised by Donald Rumsfeld:
“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns; the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
This is what each of those statements mean:
- Known, knowns – you know that you know how to market and sell with some level of expertise;
- Known, unknowns – you know that you don’t know how to market and sell better than your current expertise (otherwise you wouldn’t be in the position you are in); and
- Unknown, unknowns – you don’t know what you don’t know about how to market and sell better (because if you knew what you know you don’t know then, they wouldn’t be unknown, unknowns.)
So, if you are not getting the marketing and sales results you want – more customers, more often – stop doing what you have always done – the known, knowns about how to market and sell.
That is the defining of insanity.
Simply put: stop marketing and selling in the way you currently are.
You know that you know how market and sell with some level of expertise and that is not getting the results you want.
You may now realize that you know that you don’t know how to market and sell with the level of expertise to get you the results you want – more customers, more often.
And this is doing things that land in the unknown, unknown area of knowledge.
This is what makes the percentage ratio go in favour of ideas over execution.
That is the value of marketing and strategy!
So what now are your options for moving forward?
You have three options:
- Learn better strategies to market and sell through trial-and-error on your own and implement those strategies yourself;
- Acquire better strategies to market and sell than you currently have from someone who has been-there-done-that (this could take many forms: either in a group or solo, live or canned, recurring or once off, remote or flexible setting) and implement those strategies yourself; or
- Get someone who knows better strategies to market and sell to implement these strategies on your behalf.
There aren’t many other options.
The first is called Do-It-Yourself Strategy and Implementation.
If this is what you are after, check out the 75,000+ words I have published for free (no opt-in) on everything I know about marketing and sales.
The second is called Done-With-You Strategy, combined with Do-It-Yourself-Implementation.
If this is what you are after, check out what I offer regarding of marketing and sales consulting and coaching.
The third is called Done-For-You Strategy AND Implementation.
If this is what you are after, check out my Productized Services and Unrestricted Implementation.
I’m not currently offering this service.
Notice how I said strategy AND implementation in the third option.
Both need to be present for in Done-For-You services.
Let me tell you a story…
Before I start with the story, let me be clear, my Done-For-You services are expensive but I get results.
If you are familiar with a Fair Value Line and a Price-Quality Graph, this will make sense…
The Fair Value Line and a Price-Quality Graph is a diagram that tracks quality and price along two axes.
Value could be defined as the difference between a pain and wanted gain – the outcome achieved from a product, service or solution.
Value could be made up of both functional and emotional value…
A value proposition is the value you offer customers to solve their pains or gain or move them from pain to wanted gain.
This could be in the form of currencies such as saving time, money, labour or attention or making money.
Functional value could be defined as what a product, service or solution does – its outputs.
Emotional value could be defined as how a product, service or solution makes a customer feel.
Therefore, a brand is a combination of function and emotional.
Emotional value is what separates it from a commodity.
If you expand the emotional value, you can broaden price.
My Done-For-You services expand both the functional and emotional value for clients but getting them out of pain to a wanted gain, that is more customers, more often.
And it costs money.
Back to the story…
A while back, I got an email from a potential client who is an ASX listed company, asking for help.
This potential client wanted to prescribe the marketing and sales strategy, but wanted me to do the marketing and sales implementation.
That is fine, but it’s not a service I offer.
What was problematic in their thinking was they wanted me to be accountable for the marketing and sales outcomes (based on implementation) they stipulated in their marketing and sales strategy.
In other words, they wanted to come up with the marketing and sales ideas that (they hoped) would get the results they wanted – more customers, more often.
This sentiment shows EXACTLY why they are in the position they are in:
With this desire, NOTHING WILL CHANGE!
Except trying to divert their current outcomes externally to the person implementing them to make them (the client) feel better about the lack of results.
REMEMBER: If you are not getting the results you want, stop doing what you have always done.
That is the defining of insanity.
A crappy marketing and sales strategy executed CORRECTLY is still a crappy marketing and sales strategy.
In other words, you can be efficient at implementation, but without an effective strategy you’re going nowhere new.
Likewise, you can have an effective marketing and sales strategy, but with inefficient implementation, you’re also going nowhere new.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe,” takes on a whole new light!
So I told the potential client that I considered our business relationship to be starting on the wrong foot:
“To have a long and fruitful business relationship, I suggest we discuss and set a precedence and expectation of our working relationship from the beginning. I trust that you also consider this as important for success. Otherwise, this may give rise to a potential miscommunication about the nature of our engagement. My understanding is that you are engaging me as a contracted consultant to achieve marketing and sales outcomes where I lead the strategy based on my experience, knowledge, credentials and credibility, with input where required and final approval from you and you do their implementation, either internally or externally. Based on some of the latest communication between us, it appears that the expectation is the reverse – you direct the strategy and I implement. Thus, I would like to know if the nature and extent of input, approval and leadership of strategy and implementation between both of us before we move forward.”
Don’t get me wrong, of course, I am open to input and there is a massive difference between micromanagement and legitimate concerns.
With all the reasons outlined above, I may not act on that input in marketing and sales strategy and/or implementation because (with respect) it’s likely coming from an unknown, unknown perspective, and hence the reason why I am hired as an expert.
As this client wanted to prescribe the marketing and sales strategy and wanted me to do the marketing and sales implementation, I told them implementation is not a service I offer.
Anyone with a basic marketing and sales skill set can do the implementation.
That’s not where the value is.
The value is in the strategy, IN COMBINATION with execution.
Again “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe,” takes on a whole new light!
The problem is most businesses don’t want to pay top dollar for marketing and sales strategy.
They only want to pay minimum for marketing and sales implementation.
Or worse still they want to pay minimum for BOTH marketing and sales strategy and implementation, expecting the person they hired to implement (who has a basic marketing and sales skill) can do both.
Both skills sets are vastly different!
Instead of reasoning why this is, I’ll let Penelope Trunk, co-founder of Quistic explain it.
Penelope Trunk once wrote:
“Most people I have managed have told me, at one point or another, that their strength is strategy. For the most part, I hear this as ‘I don’t know how to execute what you’re asking me to execute.’”
“It is a cliché that everyone thinks they’re a strategist. The reason everyone thinks they’re a strategist is because they don’t know what a strategist does. Get a reality check. Odds are you are not a strategist. Strategy requires thinking conceptually and creating something from nothing. So, for the most part, if you need to see something in order to do strategy then you are not doing strategy, you’re doing editing. Strategists usually favor thinking about the future instead of the present; strategists I admire are bored by what is and focus on what could be. Also, strategy means constantly making decisions based on incomplete information. It means taking intellectual leaps of faith that could derail many departments in an organization, and doing that with confidence. The best thing you can do for your career is take a personality test to understand your strengths. If you are an INTJ you really are a strategist. If you are not an INTJ, the fewer letters you have that match that, the further away from strategist you are. So get some self-knowledge before you declare yourself a strategist.”
Strategy is worth A LOT as it puts your business on the path to effective outcomes – more customers, more often, which is what most businesses want.
Sales and marketing are the lifeblood of business.
Without marketing and sales, you have no customers.
And without customers, you are playing business.
You are out of business.
In an 8 hour work day you should be spending time on the following:
- Marketing – 4 hours;
- Sales – 2 hours;
- Product delivery – 1 hour; and
- Administration – 1 hour.
That is 3/4 of your day working on marketing and sales and les than 1/4 of your day working with your products, services or solutions.
In addition to time, your allocation of costs should be in the same proportion.
In my experience with clients, it’s the other way around or LESS.
The amount of time I have heard potential clients say “we have no marketing budget, what rabbit can you pull out of the hat for us” is rife.
I think to myself “are you serious about your business?!?!”
If your time or money is not in that ratio, something is fundamentally wrong with your business model.
Let me repeat:
IF YOUR TIME OR MONEY IS NOT IN THAT RATIO, SOMETHING IS FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG WITH YOUR BUSINESS MODEL.
You are lacking basic knowledge of margins, upsells, marketing and sales funnels and so on.
You need to get up to speed on those basics ASAP.
Luckily for you I wrote a guide on that.
The ironic thing is if that followed the allocation of time (and capital) division ratio I just mentioned, then they wouldn’t be calling me for marketing and sales help in the first place, as they know or would be doing what they need (strategy and implementation).
Don’t be stingy with marketing and sales strategy and implementation your business depends on it!
So specifically, how do you bridge the gap between marketing and sales strategy and implementation of that strategy?
Let’s start with an analogy…
On a windy day, would you grab a wad of your own money and throw it up in the air on in a busy mall?
Of course, you wouldn’t.
It is a pointless exercise.
It has no value.
So why do businesses do the same with any money they allocate to marketing and sales?
I once worked for a client who was certain they should take out a $5,000 advertisement with no regard to return-on-investment, until I talked to them about The Logic Model.
The Logic Model is a tool that helps with strategy (planning) and implementation (execution).
And based on that, it helps determine return-on-investment.
At its core, the model assesses causal connection between elements.
Causation is different from correlation.
Just because two elements are correlated (a related link between an input or activity and an output or outcome) doesn’t mean that one caused (a direct link between an input or activity and an output or outcome) the other.
The elements of The Logic Model are as follows:
- Inputs – these are the resources that are used for activities (below);
- Activities – these are the actions that are used for creating outputs (below);
- Outputs – these are the yields used for creating outcomes(below); and
- Outcomes – are results that generate impact you want (below).
You may be asking how The Logic Model relates to marketing and sales?
- Inputs in a marketing and sales context are the use of general capital, time and labour. This is characterised by the phrase “you need to spend money to make money”;
- Activities in a marketing and sales context are the implementation of marketing and sales to create a marketing or sales output. It could be the creation of a flyer or a whole range of these (read more here);
- Outputs in a marketing and sales context are creating, for example advertisements; and
- Outcomes in a marketing and sales context are the acquisition of new customers and sales etc.
The problem is that most businesses concentrate on activities and outputs not, outcomes, like the ASX listed client I mentioned previously.
They hoped that doing activities (based on the wrong strategy) would create ideal outcomes.
They didn’t think about this at all!
In The Logic Model activities create outputs first.
A value step is needed to move from outputs to outcomes.
That is where strategy comes in.
The right marketing and sales strategy.
Implementation that creates outcomes (and hopefully outputs) is only the effect of a strategy’s suggested inputs and activities.
Strategy, therefore, is deciding what the right inputs and activities are to produce not only outputs but the right outcomes.
The reason your business is not where you want it to be with marketing and sales could very well have to do with the way you approach BOTH strategy AND implementation.
Any implementation, if it is “busy work” lacking strategy and foresight, means you are on Path A (bankruptcy) or Path B (more customers).
Strategy is the ideas and the path to get to outcomes.
It says we should take this way and not that way.
Implementation is executing that path.
Strategy is about being effective, not efficient.
Implementation is about being efficient, not effective.
Effectiveness is doing things that get you outcomes or results.
Efficiency is performing a task in an economical manner disregarding if it is a task that will get results.
Efficiency is the default approach of mediocre marketing and sales.
Don’t fall into this trap.
Strategy is also not tactics.
Planning concerns it’s self with tactics.
Tactics are specific, strategy is broad.
Tactics change, strategy does not.
But what is strategy?
Strategy is one of those terms, like “happiness” that is hard to define, because no one encompassing definition exists.
A simple dictionary definition could be:
“A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.”
Strategy is about the future.
So plan for and create the future for your business.
It is about choosing a path or set of actions (the best path or action) over another (inferior) path or set of actions that creates the future that you want.
Every business has a future regardless of that is, means every business has a strategy.
But not everyone in business is a strategist.
There is no right strategy.
But there are better strategies than others.
That is what makes a strategist.
Most marketing and sales people call themelves strategists.
They are not – remember what Penelope Trunk said?
So how should you apply this to your business?
Here are the elements:
- STEP 1: Marketing and sales strategy; and
- STEP 2: Marketing and sales implementation.
Let’s begin with…
..Step 1 is about planning.
Start with a solid marketing and sales strategy, which moves focus from outputs to outcomes.
Based on this, The Logic Model could then be re-arranged to look like this:
- Outcomes – what results generate the marketing and sales impact you want (I bet this is more customers, more often)?;
- Outputs – what yields are needed for creating outcomes (above)?;
- Activities – what actions are needed for creating outputs (above)?; and
- Inputs – what resources are needed for activities (above)?.
Only you can determine the marketing and sales results you want.
Any only you can determine the resources you have at your disposal.
However, choosing the correct activities and output will create the right outcomes.
There are so many great marketing and sales inputs and activities that you can choose from and depending on the result you want (not output), I have outlined many of them and the activities and outputs required to get you there.
Of course, the exact details of how to do these are beyond the scope of this guide.
This step is about planning.
This leads us to the Implementation step…
…Step 2 is about execution.
This is where you implement your marketing and sales strategy.
This means being efficient with your resources you apply to your input and activities.
Of course, the exact details of how to do this are beyond the scope of this guide.
You made it…
You now have a solid plan for creating the marketing and sales outputs you want.
It will be more than enough for you to get started on your own.
And if you’re serious about marketing and selling more, the logical next step is to contact me to help you do it yourself, have me do it with you, or have it all done for you.
This may be the momentum you need to get great marketing and sales results.
Or do you simply want more like this?
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