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Strategy Before Tactics – the very foundation of marketing

Over the course of this trimester, I have been undertaking a sessional lecturing role at Kaplan Business School, teaching Marketing Principles to undergraduates and the Value Chain to postgraduate MBA students. Lecturing provides a great way of ensuring relevancy and best practice, by the blending theory with practical applications.

Marketing Principles is an introductory marketing subject and serves as the gateway into further studies within the discipline. Marketing theory has not changed substantially since its initial inception, although the discipline continues to evolve through research and new insights.

One of the fundamental principles taught to students is strategy is before tactics. Strategy ensures that the right tactics are executed in a timely manner while taking into account the available resource requirements and strategic direction.

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Unfortunately, misinformation is rife in regard to marketing, resulting in many non-accredited marketers promoting tactics without the research and insights that are required to achieve positive outcomes.

This is prevalent in areas like branding, where the focus becomes visual and style at the exclusion of the research required to map stakeholders, their decision-making journey, anticipated touchpoints and desired outcomes.

A brand ultimately needs to connect with not only customers but the entire value chain, including employees, directors, suppliers and channel partners. This is particularly important when partners may be supporting joint initiatives, that require each partner to convey mutually supportive value.

Unfortunately, there are many instances where a new brand is commissioned without undertaking these strategic stages. Similarly, many digital activities are undertaken without recognising the need for research and insights that guide the experiences required to create desired outcomes.

The execution of tactics is not marketing. Conducting valid research and determining suitable strategic insights is what marketing is actually about.

First year students are taught and assessed on this basis, and yet there are many instances of reputational and financial risks caused by people within business and organisations when they decide to execute tactics without valid strategies.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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