Yesterday a friend said to me “You’re a marketer, right? Can you put together a flyer for us?” I get comments like this all the time. When people hear marketing, they often think about the tactical output – a colorful flyer or brochure, an attractive exhibit display, a fun tchotchke or giveaway, an appealing logo, or a catchy slogan. Even to those that think “big,” marketing often conjures up visions that run the gamut – advertising, branding, public relations, sales – the list goes on, with much of it being the flashy, fun, and creative output bits. If you’re in marketing, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If you could see the thought-bubble over my head when someone asks me to make a flyer, you’d know my brain immediately goes to strategy – What are you trying to achieve?

Strategy is what gives purpose to our efforts and helps us to enumerate our goals. It’s based on both qualitative customer insights and empirical research. Strategy informs our decisions to help ensure we’re developing and delivering products, services, and user experiences that benefit our communities, whether they are members, authors, readers, or customers.  It is the outcome of thoughtful analysis of carefully acquired data, demonstrating that there are gaps and challenges in the marketplace, which translate into opportunities for our organizations. Developing marketing strategy requires taking the time to gather the facts so that we can ultimately create the products, the branding, and the campaigns that resonate with our constituents.

Successful products, engaged communities, and impactful marketing materials depend on data, insight, and skillful application. They depend on strategy!