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The importance of having a strategy: why ad hoc marketing is risky

We often hear about how fast-paced our lives have become. We live in a world of live tweets, the 24-hour news cycle and instant messaging, and the Internet and social media allow us to reach thousands of potential customers and clients worldwide in a split second.

This cheap and quick way to communicate has resulted in a mad scramble to ‘get out there’; to take advantage of the Internet and all it’s amazingly instant marketing opportunities.

This reactive and haphazard approach to sharing messages that reflect your business not only lacks a strategy, it’s risky.

As many businesses are finding, ad hoc marketing can lead to inconsistent messaging and branding, and a confused and disengaged audience.

The truth is, in this fast-paced world, a measured and carefully-considered approach still wins the marketing race.

The value of strategy

With so many digital marketing options and opportunities available, it’s easy to get seduced into a ‘just do it’ mentality.

Strategy takes time and thought. It involves confronting existing issues that might otherwise be ignored, and it involves a financial investment. It’s much easier to tweet and run the occasional campaign when funds and manpower become available, you might think.

The ‘just do it’ mentality can also be appealing to the cautious. It’s a bit like dipping your toes into the water; seeing what works, and what doesn’t.

Yet, experience shows that ad hoc marketing can be less effective and ultimately more expensive, and that the concept of business strategy before action still holds strong.

To begin with, a solid marketing strategy allows a business to recognise the best opportunities available and decide where to invest. It can also help businesses identify the tools and assets they have and those they should acquire.

Assemblo’s Head Strategy Director Steve de Niese said employing a strategy is key to ensuring marketing activities, whether planned or reactive, reflect your business objectives.

“Developing a strategic approach to all marketing is often our first step with new clients. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve in advance will help you make smarter decisions, faster,” he said.

Why else is having a strategy important?

Strategies strengthen a brand by allowing a business to market in a way that is clear and defined.

It ultimately saves a company time and money by focusing the resources only on marketing plans that support business objectives.

Strategy also takes into account the buyers’ cycle. It doesn’t assess the success or failure of a campaign by the number of clicks or purchases in the first instance, rather it takes into account the whole process, which can include stages such as comparison shopping and discussions with family.

It’s important, though, that strategy is never mistaken for inflexibility. Constant evaluation is still essential – it should be calculated and form part of an overall business, marketing and branding strategy.

“Measuring campaigns in any effective way requires you to understand your business goals. ROI should be focused on what actually helps the business, rather than just chasing big numbers,” de Niese said.

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