There are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to marketing strategy: those who plan and those who don’t.

The marketing pundits from the first school believe strategy development is a valuable process that helps to deliver appropriate marketing activity and messaging, which resonates with customers.

On the flipside, there are those in business who believe spending time planning and building strategies ‘slows you down’ from ‘getting things done’. So, which school of thought is correct?

It’s easy to focus on “getting things done”

Technology has dramatically changed the way we talk to customers and nearly every market you can think of is highly competitive. Strong competition leads to businesses fighting tooth and nail for every deal. In this environment, marketing has become rapid fire, fuelled by the focus on ‘everything digital’. Social media platforms have made it easy to build and execute campaigns fast and relatively cheaply.

For businesses operating in this environment, there’s no time for strategy, which is every marketer’s worst nightmare. You’ll hear words bandied around like ‘agile’ and ‘disruption’. In this type of scenario, it’s easy to focus on activity, especially if the boss is saying, ‘if we’re getting the work done, we must be doing the right thing!” And why not? Many managers and business leaders see marketing activity and believe it equates to more customers and stronger revenues.

Planning is always the better option

There’s two problems with the “just do it” approach to marketing. Firstly, it’s a bit like shooting a gun blindfolded: without a plan, you simply fire wildly without any knowledge of whether you’re going to hit anything. Secondly, marketers have a habit of rushing to the newest marketing craze, in this case digital, without really understanding whether or not it’s effective.

A genuine marketing strategy means you’re more likely to understand the key target for all your marketing activity; your customer. By building a plan, you can take the time to research your customer, their behaviours and the factors influencing their decision-making.

It’s this understanding that allows you to focus your marketing messaging on what will truly resonate with your customers. Moreover, you will be able to appropriately select the right channels through which to engage them.

A strategy is like an internal communications document

Building a solid plan helps the entire business understand what it is the marketing department is doing. It’s common for senior leaders and other departments – think sales – to question the value of a marketing program. By building a suitable plan, backed by solid data, you have the perfect communication tool for ensuring the business is on-board with your marketing direction.

Marketing strategy is still the winner…

There are significant advantages if you take the time to develop a marketing strategy for your business. Again, like all other forms of strategic planning, it should be an achievable plan, not a re-creation of ‘War and Peace’. Furthermore, a strategy focused on your customer will win out most times over a loosely executed package of tactical initiatives.