I was on the We Are Slightly Mad website yesterday and noticed a quote from Sun Tzu worth repeating. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victor. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” This little gem went ink to parchment around 500 BC. In brand planning and marketing some are actually getting away with a tactics-first approach. But only the few that course-correct around a strategy live on. Social media, let’s not forget, is a tactic; a tactic that has garnered close to a billion in annual revenue I’d guess. Yet those are not marketing positive dollars for the most part, they are more like R&D dollars. The social media programs used to support strategy are the ones paying off.
Metaphors and examples are the key to inspiring brand planning so I’ll drop a metaphor here. In great cooking there is technique and there are ingredients. As with the Sun Tzu quote both are needed, yet technique is most akin to strategy. My cooking gets better as I understand the various heating methods, preparation skills, complementary flavors and seasonings. As these techniques become more intuitive, creativity and possibility become more apparent. In brand planning, understating how and when to listen is technique. As Sherlock might say “hearing” can trump “listening,” so that, too, is technique. Redirecting, building trust, connecting with the interviewee – all technique. Also seeing patterns in data and behavior and the ability to predict behavior — technique.
When searching for good strategic planning people, talk about technique not ingredients. It’s even more important than the final product…the idea. (Did I just say that?) Peace.