What If You DON’T Have A Marketing Strategy? What Happens Then?


Reading Time: 9 minutes

“What If’s” get a bad rap.

Doubtless you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s endless questioning of “What if?” while in a situation in which you had little control over the outcome. The onslaught of “What if’s” serving no other purpose than to call to mind every conceivable disappointing outcome.

Just the other night, I was driving my family to a dance performance that was 30 minutes away, and halfway there my daughter realized she forgot her dance shoes. We had to turnaround to get them, which meant instead of arriving on time we’d arrive 30 minutes late. Now, I’d already calculated that even though we would be half an hour late, the arrival time was actually one full hour before the performance started, so while we would be late for “call time” we wouldn’t be late for the performance and my daughters would still have 30 minutes to get situated.

But, imagine that conversation in the 15 minute car ride back toward the house… what if traffic is bad? What if they’re dancing first? What if they don’t let them in because we’re late? What if we turned back around and skipped the shoes? And on and on. I had already come to the inevitable conclusion that none of those factors were in our control, and that all I could do was focus on driving as efficiently as possible without breaking any laws and making things worse.

And yet, in other situations, considering the “What If’s” can actually be an incredibly powerful exercise, particularly if you follow “What If…” with “I don’t…”

Time to think about what if we don't have a marketing strategy.

Now, instead of anxiety-driven worst-case scenarios, what you’re forcing yourself to consider is the alternatives to a decision that is entirely in your control.

  • What if I don’t accept that proposal?
  • What if I don’t fire off that email?
  • What if I don’t attend that event?
  • What if I don’t spend time on that new tech?

It’s a conclusion-forcing thought exercise that gives you an opportunity to consider how your time, energy, and business might be impacted as a result of not doing something. And it’s important to understand that this isn’t a biased exercise – the resulting conclusions may find you for or against the action in question.

You can just as easily talk yourself into an action as talk yourself out of an action.

This might feel somewhat similar to considering the pro’s and con’s of an action or idea, but there’s a difference. A list of con’s allows you to make a logical, rational analysis of why you shouldn’t do something. Whereas the “What if” exercise forces you to visualize the consequence, positive or negative, of not doing something. For some of you, this will be far more powerful and effective than simply seeing a list or some data on paper.

For instance, let’s suppose that you’re on the fence about attending a conference in your industry. It’s a great opportunity to learn and meet people, but it’s also expensive, far away, and will consume most of a week of your time. Considering “what if I don’t attend” gives you a window to look at how you’ll spend that time and how you might otherwise invest those resources into yourself and your business, and think about whether that alternative reality would be better for you than the initial choice.

Just like any predictive behavior, this is something you will not be good at initially. But with practice, you’ll get better and better at visualizing your own multiverse and selecting the outcomes and directions you prefer and choose for yourself.

For some of you, this is an exercise you need to go through when it comes to marketing strategy. Right now you may be putting out a few blog posts or videos, posting two a few social networks, and sending emails now and then. Maybe you even have an ad budget. But if you had to admit the truth, it’d be that you do not have a fully thought-out and documented marketing strategy.

You don’t have a vision for what you’re working to accomplish, who you’re talking to, and how you’re approaching that target audience. And you don’t have a documented plan for the year or even the quarter that articulates that vision and puts it in terms that can be executed and measured and lauded.

Put it this way: if you can tell me who you’re targeting with your marketing over the next 3 – 6 months, the challenges they’re facing that you help solve for, and how you expect to reach those individuals, then congratulations! You have a marketing strategy. Hopefully it’s documented and the whole team is aligned with that vision.

But if that’s not you, then for the next couple minutes I’m going to help you go through a “What if I don’t” exercise. Sometimes if we’ve never not had or not done something, it may be challenging to truly visualize alternatives, so I’m going to share with you ten things that can happen if you don’t have a marketing strategy that’s thought-through, documented, and shared with the entire team.

What If I Don’t Have A Marketing Strategy?

01. Inconsistent Messaging

Without a strategy, your messaging may lack cohesion, confusing your audience about your brand. This is most easily seen when you have different departments or individuals responsible for different aspects of marketing: one person is creating blog content while someone else is working on email newsletters, and someone else is running ad campaigns. It’s normal to assign those tasks to specialists who are experienced and focused on the tactics, but without coordination, the result is chaos. Campaigns and initiatives do not support each other, and are not conveying similar ideas and messaging to your audience. They may not even be talking to the same audiences. Which can result in…

02. Wasted Resources

Aimless marketing efforts can result in misallocation of budget and resources, leading to inefficiency. Imagine this scenario where your content team and your ad team aren’t working together, within the same strategy, and are actually targeting different audiences with their initiatives. What if the ad team discovered that a particular audience wasn’t receptive or resonating with your messaging, but didn’t tell the content team? Your content team might waste a quarter creating ebook and blog content only to come to the same conclusion themselves, but only after having wasted that time and resources. Which can result in…

03. Missed Growth Opportunities

A lack of strategic planning may cause you to overlook potential avenues for business expansion. Suppose your teams were communicating and targeting the same audiences, and sharing those learnings and insights regularly. That might empower them to quickly move on from a poor audience choice, for instance, freeing up resources to focus on other growth opportunities. It might also create opportunities for teams to realize and leap onto new ideas and channels for marketing.

04. Customer Disengagement

Failing to understand your audience can result in a lack of engagement and connection. This can happen when you haven’t taken the time to build a complete marketing strategy that includes going through exercises that flesh out who you’re talking to and the struggles they’re facing. Too often businesses feel like they already know their target audience and don’t have to spend time thinking about them, but that’s a severe risk. Most business owners – while they might have been in their customer’s shoes at one time and that was the impetus for the business in the first place – are no longer in that situation. Now, as the business owner, they have their own struggles and concerns that are unrelated to their target audience. Talking to your target audience and persona refinement is an ongoing activity.

05. Competitive Disadvantage

Without a clear strategy, you may struggle to differentiate yourself from competitors.

This one’s so important I want you to re-read that line:

Without a clear strategy, you may struggle to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Successful marketing is challenging and often, this is why. If we haven’t invested the time in learning about our target audience and their true goals and struggles, we won’t know how to talk to them and serve them. And if we don’t know how to talk to them, they’ll be unable to relate to us. It’s at that point that we simply become a commodity. The customer chooses our solution based solely on price or their understanding of some key feature that they’re desperate to have no matter the cost. A successful marketing strategy will seek to build deeper connections with our target audience so that they make decisions to purchase based on feelings rather than limited rationalizations.

06. Inability to Adapt

Lack of strategic planning may make it challenging to adapt to changing market conditions. And if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that market conditions can and will change rapidly and we have to be able and willing to adapt accordingly. Organizations that had a solid marketing strategy and were leaning on in-person events prior to the pandemic were able to quickly pivot, whether that was to virtual events or other channels, because they knew why they were doing it, who they were trying to reach, and the messaging they needed to convey. They were less encumbered by the situation because it wasn’t a question of whether or not to do an in-person event – that wasn’t an option for anyone – it was simply a discussion on what they’re next best option was that still fit their marketing strategy.

Because the strategy itself didn’t need to change in that scenario, just the tactic.

(Of course, for many businesses, the impact the pandemic had on their target audience, not just their channels, necessitated a change in strategy as well. Restaurants who had previously catered to office workers in busy downtowns needed a new business and marketing strategy. Those who adapted, such as the ones who shifted to a delivery model, survived. Those who chose not to invest time thinking about and implementing adaptive strategies did not survive.)

07. Short-Term Focus

Absence of a long-term strategy may lead to a myopic focus on immediate gains rather than sustained growth. This is why it’s so important for businesses to develop three or five year visions for themselves. I go into these exercises knowing that it won’t be accurate, I’m no Nostradamus, but in the process of thinking about the long term plans for the business it’s, again, a forcing exercise in planning and scenario-building. How will our target audience change or mature over the next few years? How will our competition evolve? How will we change as a result? And remember, the more often you practice these predictive exercises, the better you will get. In fact, this should be part of your monthly or quarterly planning as well. Consider the initiatives you and your team are going to undertake, predict their success, and write it down. Not only can you benchmark and measure progress weekly so as to see if you’re off track, you can look back each month or quarter and judge how you performed and how badly you predicted – then improve the next time.

08. Brand Dilution

Without a strategy, your brand identity may become diluted, impacting recognition and recall.

“A strong brand is more than a logo; it’s an emotional connection. Craft your brand to evoke the feelings you want your audience to experience.”

That’s an idea that I shared to social media recently, and it applies here. Poor, strategy-less marketing will simply focus on getting the logo in front of as many eyes as possible. They measure things like traffic and views. And while large brands might be able to afford Super Bowl-sized ad campaigns, without that connection, it’s largely a waste of money.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday as I wrote this, so let me ask you a bit of Super Bowl advertising trivia.

Name for me the car accessory brand that has advertised in every Super Bowl since 2014?

Surely a company that has probably spent nearly $100 million dollars in media buy and production costs to be placed during all of those performances would be top of mind, right?

WeatherTech. They make car mats.

Now perhaps you’re one of the few who knew that brand or somehow recalled their commercials, but odds are, most people wouldn’t recall that brand because it doesn’t evoke any feelings. And perhaps that’s why they aren’t investing in Super Bowls ads this year.

WeatherTech’s 2023 Super Bowl Commercial

09. Unclear Goals

A lack of defined objectives can leave your team without a clear direction for marketing efforts. This should be obvious, but if my team and I aren’t aligned on where we’re going, if we don’t agree on the destination, we aren’t all going to move in the same direction. We might have different ideas on the best way to get there, but that’s a healthier discussion to have than the alternative.

10. Limited Measurement

Finally, without a strategy, it’s challenging to measure the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives. And here we’re talking about more than just how many pageviews a blog post got, or how many clicks an ad drove. We’re talking about having core marketing objectives that align with core business objectives, and making sure those are being relentlessly pursued throughout every initiative and campaign.

If your business wants to expand into a new market, then your marketing should align with that vision and have a corresponding strategy that states that objective, researches and understands the new ICP, and designs campaigns and activities to reach and connect with that new target audience. And as a result, you would be able to measure how effective those campaigns were at achieving those important business objectives.

  • How many new leads from that ICP were brought in?
  • How much new business was brought in this quarter, and what’s the projection for next quarter?
  • What strategic partnerships were forged to support the objective long term?

These are the kinds of considerations you should think through when you’re debating whether or not you should invest time and resources, quarterly and annually, to reviewing and devising a complete marketing strategy.

What If You Need More Help With Your Marketing Strategy?

The key to building a robust marketing strategy is having someone at the helm of your marketing team who can provide the level of strategic thought and leadership needed. For most SaaS companies, that’s a CMO – someone who’s entire role is to solve big problems, focus on leadership and vision, and delegate all of the tactical aspects of marketing. But with the average salary of a CMO upwards of $200k a year, hiring a full time marketing leader of at that level may not be possible or ideal for your business.

That’s where a fractional CMO can come in. For most SaaS startups, they don’t actually need a CMO working 40+ hours per week. They need someone who can attend executive meetings, lead team meetings, and spend time every month providing strategic direction to the marketing department. Often that looks like just 5 or 10 hours per week!

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, where your business is growing fast but you don’t have a solid marketing leader providing your team with direction, and you want to consider bringing in a resource to provide that leadership, let’s talk.


This is a great thought exercise to make your marketing strategy a priority. It forces you and your team to consider alternatives.





Vous pouvez trouver cet article en Anglais sur www.thesocialmediahat.comhttps://www.thesocialmediahat.com/blog/what-if-you-dont-have-a-marketing-strategy-what-happens-then/

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