Do you have a strategy?

HOWE&WYE is often brought in to help evaluate how the current execution is aligned with business objectives.  Far too often we see organizations that get buried in the busy work of communications but fail to take a step back to align resources, expectations and objectives. In our practice, we often encounter organizations that have no strategy, they simply keep busy with the work of being busy. The book ends of success in our view are strategy and measurement, and far too often we see firms languishing without either.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”  
—Henry David Thoreau

Our professionals help organizations build strategies that maximize effort and deliver growth. We do this through by optimizing efficiencies and aligning business strategy with marketing, communications and government relations efforts. Our team reviews with professional objectivity, the resourcing (time, budgets, roles and responsibilities, staffing levels etc.)  your organization has and measures it for its effectiveness relative to what your business priorities are. We have seen a few things however, that may help you out along the way.

Do the Expected

We often find ourselves engaged by clients who feel they are well behind where they need to be in terms of their marketing and communications efforts. They are generally not only right, but the situation is more often than not, worse than they imagine. Clients engage HOWE&WYE to do the things they don’t have time or internal capacity for but desperately need to do to keep up with their competition. It all however, begins with a solid strategy that aligns with key business objectives.

Our experience shows us that clients that find themselves struggling to keep pace with the competition, have not been able to commit the time, energy and resources to their communications efforts. They haven’t spent the time to build the brand and create engagement with their stakeholders and customers.  They very often don’t have the necessary team, resources and strategies in place, let alone those that are aligned and measured.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that aren’t getting done. We often see this most specifically in terms of their social media build out, content development and government relations. These provide a ‘consistent’ face of the organization and require minimal effort but high return in terms of brand profile, authority and will improve SEO.

The basic formula here is to do the expected. Be in the places where your customers, clients, shareholders and stakeholders expect you to be. If, like many of our clients, you don’t know where to begin, call us – we can help you figure it out.

Do the Unexpected

Regular communication with your stakeholders can often lead to benign predictability. You provide your annual report the same way, year after year. Your social media feed is exactly the same week after week. Your website hasn’t seen an update in months. Your events run the same way, every year. Predictability gives us a sense of ease, and sometimes comfort but can also be entirely disengaging to your clients, members or customers. We believe that every now and then the injection of the unexpected can re-invigorate your communications.

Being creative and taking risks can have tremendous payoffs. Airbnb Chief Marketing Officer and former Coca-Cola VP of Global Advertising Strategy, Jonathan Mildenhall is an advocate of the 70-20-10 rule in terms marketing spend. Simply put, spending 70% of your budget on the stay at home marketing you’ve always done and need to do is critical. Pushing the envelope on those, and trying some new things with that extra 20% is important. But the real wins can come in that 10% is where the differentiator can be. Risking $10,000 on a 100K marketing budget may seem like a lot but the value of one excellent, creative and ‘different’ campaign for your customers can leverage tremendous sales returns.

For example, Mildenhall took a gamble in 2009 on Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign, an initiative that helped to support the most profitable growth period in 20 years. 

The result, is that to truly improve your prospects for growth, is to develop four key elements. The first, is a strategy that is intimately tied to your business objectives. The second, is an operational plan that defines how that strategy will be put into practice, across what channels and with what messages. Third, put a team in place that is experienced and has the depth of talent to carry out the first two elements. Finally, measure. A strategy is only effective if you can measure how you get from point A to point B with specific key metrics and performance objectives. HOWE&WYE can help you with each of these or all combined.