Simple Marketing Audit: Strategy Vs Tactics

It’s that time of year again where, if you haven’t already begun your 2011 sales & marketing goal setting & planning (I have, have you?) it’s about time to get on that. I’m as much a fan of huge, complex marketing audit projects as anyone, but in lieu of that, and to get things started off on the right foot, I have a simple exercise that I use to do a quick diagnosis of what I did last year, what I’m thinking of doing next year, and determining whether or not those tactics are aligned with my overall marketing strategy.

You’ve all seen the exercises where the instructions are simply to “draw a line down a sheet of paper and put this on in one column and that in another.” That simple tool is recommended for everything from deciding which job to take, to how to communicate with your spouse to determining untold numbers of other major decisions in life. So, it must be good enough for marketers, right?

Here’s what I recommend doing to start of your 2011 marketing planning. Let’s pull out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Personally, I’m a “paper guy”, so I’d be writing this out offline, but do whatever works for you.

Label the left-hand column “TACTICS” and the right-hand column “STRATEGY” In the left-hand column, list all of the marketing tactics, campaigns, themes and programs that you used this past year. If you need something to kickstart your brain, perhaps you could also look at something like the Channel Consideration Review Worksheet, which contacts a laundry list of marketing tactics. You might also consider putting in parenthesis what kind of results you received in the form of leads, sales, walk-ins, traffic, etc. Once you’ve listed out all of the tactics, now it’s time to head over to the column on the right and map those tactics to strategy. In the right-hand column, next to each tactic listed, now list out the “way in which that tactic supported your overall marketing/go-to-market strategy”. If you’re having trouble drawing some connections between the tactics and and your overall marketing strategy (you do have one, don’t you?) you’re not alone.

This is a quick exercise to help you catalog what you’ve done, what’s worked, how well it’s aligned with strategy, and to draw out those areas that need improvement or, what often happens, is that you figure out you’ve done a lot of tactical things that didn’t exactly mesh with your overall strategy. Now’s a great time to think about fixing those issues and setting yourself up for marketing success in 2011!