Avoiding the tactic trap.

So many small businesses fall into it — and some not-so-small ones, too.  And plenty of agencies, as well…particularly since we’re all in the business of selling marketing wares; sometimes our enthusiasm to offer up a bright, new, shining and enticing innovation gets in the way of our better judgement.

What I’m talking about is the tactic trap: thinking about your next marketing move in terms of tactics and executions, and not in terms of strategy and long-term vision.  It’s easier to fall into it than ever…and the outstanding progress in innovation and platforms is largely at fault.

Strategy leads; strategy should always come first. It should be deliberative and prudent, and focused on best returns and seeing to the next horizon.  But in an era where new mobile and social apps and platforms are springing up constantly, plenty of marketers lose their way amidst the executional trees, ignoring the forest.

Small businesses are, more often than not, in the habit of being reactive when it comes to marketing.  They’re oft-focused on just getting their core competencies accomplished, and marketing is that thing you intermittently do to support the sales guy or the distributor.  So it’s no surprise they don’t have the time or the patience to think strategically about their marketing.  But that’s no excuse for an agency to shill them a tactic that’s attractive simply because it’s new and hot…and might not be the best spend, in the long run.

It’s irresponsible.  Mercenary.  And just contributes to the perception that advertising and marketing communications are just confusing juju pushed on the unwitting by self-interested shamans.

Even an incident like the current Facebook-versus-Google debacle is an example of a very large player getting caught up in the moment, in making bad decisions that can impugn its public perception.   It’s a lack of foresight that sacrifices long-term good for immediate — and often not very palpable — gains.  A small marketer who throws all their eggs into the newest available basket, without doing their homework, or contemplating it in terms of a larger framework, is not just spending time and money indiscriminately, but they’re suffering opportunity costs from not realizing the enduring benefits of a holistic strategy.  And shame on the agencies that lead them in that direction.

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