I recently met with a new client who wanted to begin an email marketing program.  “That’s great,” I commented and then began to ask him about his goals, his website, if he had a lead magnet, etc.  He held up his hand looking a bit frustrated with my questions and said, “We just want to send out one email per month.”

That’s when I realized we needed to have a deeper conversation about strategy.  Any marketer will tell you in order to promote your products, services or brand successfully, you need to have a strategy in place to use the medium of your choice effectively.

Without a strategy, you’re simply hoping things will go well.  As author Rick Page will tell you, “Hope is not a strategy.”


For our purposes, we can define strategy as a plan of action designed to achieve an overall aim.  It is the road map that will take you from point A to point B to point C in the most efficient way possible.

It’s often referred to as a plan, a policy, an approach or a line of attack.  It’s the definition of how you will do a thing.

You can have strategies for multiple purposes: Geopolitics, combat, test taking, gaming, selling, relationships, and yes, even online marketing.  It’s all about creating the right approach to get the right outcome.

Sometimes, you might employ more than one strategy to achieve your goal.  For example, in the online world, if you want to rank high in the search results, you could use a keyword selection strategy, a search engine optimization strategy, a content marketing strategy and a strategy for your social media.  You would probably also have an over-arching strategy that defines how each of these pieces works with the others to help you reach your goal.

Simply Doing Isn’t Strategic

Many confuse activity with strategy.  They are not the same things.  You may have the desire for a certain outcome, but if you have not taken strategic steps with your activity, then the likelihood of success is greatly reduced. 

Having a strategy means having a planned, thoughtful process that defines how the actions will be performed.  It increases the probability of success.

In the online marketing world, I often see activity without strategy.  Many small businesses believe just making posts to their social media account will generate awareness for their brand, or sending one email each month will get people to buy.  This type of thinking is like taking a shot in the dark.  They are hoping people see their activity and respond favorably.

Of course, that almost never works.  As a result, small business owners or managers get frustrated when they don’t see the results they want.  They end up believing that online marketing doesn’t work.

But like so many other endeavors in life, you just need to have a strategy to be successful.

The Wrap

In marketing, most strategies are a result of identifying your target market.  That involves knowing the gender, age range, geographic location and economic composition of your ideal customer.  Once you have your target market identified, You can then begin creating strategies to message to them and to reach them.

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