Implementing is the Hard Part
It’s obvious. Creating “strategy” is sexy. It requires thought, knowledge, sensitivity to the marketplace, and creativity.
MBA courses stress strategy. Discussions abound on strategy. We worry about social media strategies, mobile marketing strategies, strategies for enhancing “customer engagement” or the “customer experience,” advertising strategies, SEO strategies, inbound marketing strategies, sales strategies, and on and on. (Although, in truth, these should be more correctly seen as tactics, not strategies.)
Any time two or more people in business get together, they discuss strategy and the economy (or, more precisely, how the economy is affecting their business strategy).
No argument. A well crafted strategy is critically important to business success.
But the soft underbelly of strategy is implementation.
Without implementation, even the most brilliant strategy is just words, a hope, an untested premise.
We all know this intellectually, of course. But we don’t necessarily follow through on that knowledge. Implementation is generally left to the most junior member of the team. Or to an automated program. Or to a series of “specialists” who might or might not appreciate where their functions fit into the whole.
Okay, someone or something has to do the drudgery that puts a strategy into the marketplace. And no VP of Marketing or CMO can, or should, try to do everything. But by the same token, we can’t just assume that everyone who is diligently working away in the trenches on their tactics is actually supporting the overall marketing and business strategy we are so proud of. We cannot assume that active implementation of the disparate pieces of the program is the same as accurate implementation to achieve the organization’s business objectives.
Poor tactics, poor coordination, and poorly implemented strategy have led to as many market failures as a poorly conceived strategy. The various elements of implementing your strategy need to be coordinated – and measured against both it and your business objectives.
Too often, marketing is criticized for not having measurable indicators of effectiveness and success. Too often, marketers have taken the easy road, measuring their likes, connects, or followers, measuring the size of the “brand community” or the number of comments they get on Facebook or other social media. These metrics simply measure tactics.
The measure of a strategy’s success is, quite simply, in the revenues.
And that success and those revenues are directly affected by how the strategy is implemented.
In today’s increasingly complex business environment, a new – or newly critical – marketing management function has emerged. Today’s CMOs must manage his/her marketing operations, not simply oversee them. It is in the nitty-gritty of how the various tactics employed work together (or don’t) that marketing success will be determined. It is in the cohesiveness of the strategy’s implementation tactics that revenues will be generated and maximized.
Simple implementation is not all that difficult. Implementing cohesively is the hard part.
For the CMO, managing the diverse, and often separate, piece-parts of the operational implementation of the business strategy is where the rubber hits the road.