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Marketing Tactics and Strategies Aren’t as Important as You Thought. Here’s Why.

We’re repeatedly sold on the idea that we have to just use the right marketing tactics to get great results. How many “right” and “guaranteed” tactics have you tried?

Whether it’s blogging, a certain type of advertising, or social media, it’s rarely the answer we were looking for.

Complete strategies are a step in the right direction. But even those often based on someone having found some magical tactic that’s the key to business results.

Marketing tactics and strategies provide an often tempting expectation of results. When we find a new tactic, we can for a moment feel a surge of hope: “Maybe this is what I needed all along and I finally found it!”

Yet, as practically everyone can attest, a new tactic or strategy rarely creates incredible results. Not never, but rarely.

So, let’s dig deeper into why even the best marketing tactic or strategy for you can’t change things on its own.

Your Tactics and Strategies Don’t Affect People

One day you’re taking a break from work and are looking at your friends’ latest adventures in Facebook. Lots of cute child pictures, links to funny videos, and life lessons turned into inspirational memes.

Among all that content, you see an ad for a meditation course that promises improved concentration skills.

You click the ad because you’d like to improve your concentration—you’re in Facebook in the middle of the day, so it’s probably a good idea. And you end up buying the course.

Would you say the meditation company made the sale because they used Facebook Ads?

No, they didn’t make the sale because they used Facebook Ads. That’s what an amateur marketer might think, but it’s not really the case.

Let’s look at this from your (the customer’s) perspective. You saw the ad, clicked it, and bought the advertised product. But you didn’t click or buy because the product was advertised with Facebook Ads. You clicked and bought because you wanted to improve your concentration skills.

The tactic (Facebook ad) didn’t make you want to buy—the message it communicated did that.

That’s what marketing strategies and tactics really are. They’re ways to communicate your message to people.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Most of us have had this experience a few times: We heard of a seemingly great new way to market what we sell. We buy the program that teaches the system. And we wait for the results.

When the results never come, we blame the tactic/strategy or the program that teaches it.

But the tactic, strategy, and program might all be terrific. Of course, if the promise was “you learn everything you need to know to get great results,” it should really cover everything.

But if it “only” promised to show how the tactic works really well, it might’ve done that and then some.

Since the tactics are just ways to communicate a message, they aren’t really responsible for sales. I know that’s a controversial position to take, but no matter how many ways you slice it, people don’t want to buy from you because of the tactics you use.

The fact is, the responsibility to figure out what specific ideas or message would make people want to buy your stuff is often pushed to the business owner—away from the marketing experts.

So, let’s tackle it.

Not Everyone Should Buy from Us

The first thing we have to admit is that our products and services cannot be the best choice for everyone.

No matter what we sell, some people aren’t all that interested in the results they could get from it and/or there are better ways for them to get those results. Our product or service simply cannot be the best way for every human to spend their time and money.

As long as we try to sell to everyone, we’ll fail to make almost anyone see great value in what we have to offer.

So, we need to be more specific. We need to have a clear target customer—a specific kind of potential customer we aim to help.

Note that you don’t have to exclude other people. You just don’t especially aim your marketing to people who aren’t your target customers.

What People Really Pay Us for

When you know what kinds of people you aim to help, you can figure out what they want most from you. In other words, what they see as the most desirable benefits of what you sell.

The things you find valuable might not make much of a difference to the people you want to serve. Or at least they might not prioritize those things as highly as you do.

But people buy things only because of the benefits they believe they’ll get, so you better know what benefits they want from you.

And since different people value different benefits, we need a clear understanding of our target customers to know what they want most. That’s far more than a simple description often called “customer avatar” or “buyer persona.”

When we know what they want most from us, we can show those aspects of our offers to them. Essentially, we’re showing people what they need to see so they can understand the greatest value of what we sell.

But benefits aren’t enough to make people buy from you—they can probably get similar benefits in other ways, too.

You’re Never Alone—Remember it in Your Marketing

You need to stand out. Something has to make you clearly and meaningfully different than your competitors. Even if you don’t yet have a business but you want to grow your blog audience, you need people to see your blog as clearly different than other similar blogs.

If people don’t understand what makes you different, they have no good reason to even notice what you could offer them. If they think they can get the same thing elsewhere already, why would they spend time considering what you do?

Many business owners rather stick their heads in the sand than consider their competitors. Maybe it feels tedious or even unnecessary.

But if you don’t know what your target customers think of your competitors, you can’t possibly know what would make them see you as their best choice.

So, consider what differentiates you from your competitors. And show the most meaningful differences to people in your marketing.

When people immediately understand what’s different about you, they’ll remember you. In a world with an excess of practically everything, being memorable is invaluable for your business.

People Don’t Trust Your Marketing Automatically

The better you understand your target customers, the more desirable benefits you can find and the more clearly you can stand out from the competition.

But it still doesn’t make people believe you. And as long as they don’t believe you, why would they buy from you? You could be offering them a life-saving medicine that no one else can give them, but if they don’t believe you, why would they buy?

Believability is often mentioned in the form of “add testimonials to your sales page to make people believe you” or something as simple as that. But it’s not always that easy. Testimonials work with most things you say in your marketing—but not all things.

The point is, you need to know what you can do to make people believe everything you say in marketing. If they’re left doubting even one thing, they’ll doubt everything.

And yes, that sometimes means you can’t talk about the most incredible benefit your product could offer. If you can’t make people believe it, then talking about it will likely do more harm than good.

The message you end up focusing your marketing on has to be believable, but also incredibly desirable and clearly differentiating. Anything less than that gets buried under the masses of mediocre, ineffective marketing.

The Role Marketing Strategies and Tactics  Play

Marketing tactics are ways to communicate your message.

Marketing strategies are ways to put together multiple tactics (or multiple instances of the same tactics) to communicate different parts of your message and ultimately make people want to buy.

So, are tactics and strategies important?

Yes, absolutely. You can get drastically better results by learning how to use marketing tactics better and build better strategies.

Just remember that even the best tactics and strategies only communicate your marketing message. They never make people want to buy—that’s what the message is there for.

Before you put a lot of time and effort into learning and using new tactics, make sure your message is effective. When you want to create an effective marketing message, start by testing your ideas with a quick exercise—click here to download it.

But when you have an effective message, things can change quite radically. Even tactics that previously didn’t work for you might start generating sales every day.

If you have questions about tactics, strategies, or messages, just let me know in the comments below.

About Peter Sandeen

Peter Sandeen dreams of sailing with his wife and dogs on the Finnish coast-unless he's helping someone build a clear marketing message and strategy that creates sales consistently. Download the quick 5-step exercise that shows what ideas are most likely to make people want to buy your products and services.

15 comments

  1. Great article, Peter. And it’s good timing for me because I’m in the process of writing several blogs about how important it is to get clear on your target market. My target market is coaches and they have a hard time understanding that they have to narrow their target to get better results. You make several good points in favor of that, and I will share this article with my audience. Creating a great marketing message can only be done after you have clearly defined your target market. Thanks for sharing these points!

  2. Venita says:

    Peter, I wish you could have seen my face reading this blog.

    I think it deserves a standing ovation.
    Well done for clearly pointing out what marketing really is about.

    There are not enough people making sure that the sense is separated from the nonsense in terms of (online) marketing and way too many riding the hype of “client attraction” tactics and such.

    Consider this post shared and tweeted and I hope it will reach many to help them prevent making the mistake of many.

    Thank you for this fab post.

  3. Hi Peter,

    The craftsman will get the job done despite his or her tools. Every time. Because said person has the creativity, the ingenuity and the drive to complete the task independent of their tools. Fab post!

    I am not big on tools or strategies but I am big on energy. I am a fan of blog commenting – you knew that probably 😉 – to drive traffic, to build bonds and to grow my business and book sales YET, I know the energy behind the comments makes them pop. No matter how things appear to be it’s all the same energy, so make that energy work for you no matter which tools you use. There’s no need to attach yourself to any one strategy. All will work for you IF you are clear on the strategy, and if you have faith in it, and in your abilities.

    Love this message Peter.

    Tweeting and Pinning from Bali!

    Ryan

  4. Your article had a lot of good advice. Realizing we are not alone is very important and knowing your audience and what they want is critical. How we reach them depends on “who” the audience is. One of the problems I see is the offers are all becoming the same which begins to look sleazy. Creating an authentic voice and backing it up with a huge attention to detail and customer service makes people feel special, heard and trust builds as well as a repeat customer base.

  5. Samantha says:

    Well the first thing I always consider while applying or starting any marketing campaign is “I’m not alone” and I have to stand solo in thousands of crowd and make my product cooler than others.

  6. ling | business-soulwork.com ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Great insights! “Tactics” as messenger is so right on – I have been trying to help my clients understand that before they can make effective use of marketing tactics, they have to get ultra-clear on what they stand for, their message, their target market and the intersection between what they do and what their market wants. Translate it into offering and communication and then plug it into whatever tactics or systems on the market to make the “vehicle”effective. I have explored it in this article, from a different perspective: http://business-soulwork.com/how-to-banish-cookie-cutter-marketing-without-reinventing-the-wheel/

  7. I buy your ideas…hook, line and sinker! In summary, it seems you’re saying it is always about the people (your target audience). Your purpose has to be clear and aligned with their needs and wants. To put that another way good marketing tactics are always about “good motives.”
    As usual, superb post, Peter. Thank you.

    1. Peter Sandeen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Gary,

      Yep, marketing is about the people you’re targeting. It’s about their perception. Whatever you think is irrelevant (from their perspective) 😉

      Cheers,
      Peter

  8. It was great, thanks so much! I will continue seeking help and education on blogging and marketing. Your mind always benefits from continuous learning, and thank you for sharing.

  9. Daryl says:

    Personally I think a lot of tactics and strategies don’t work simply because many people are not willing to put in the effort to fully implement them!

    1. Peter Sandeen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hey Daryl,

      Yep, that’s a big problem, too. But even if you fully implement a great tactic/strategy, you don’t get results if your message doesn’t work 😉

      Cheers,
      Peter

  10. OMG this is something I wish I could post on a billboard. So many marketing gurus (even some who are “legendary”) just sell tactics.

    I’ve told some of my own clients, “If you’ve got a product or service that really meets a need, plus a market of people who are feeling some pain and consciously want relief that your product offers, PLUS you’re a credible, congruent source for supplying the solution … any marketing coach, consultant or guru can help. If you don’t, then probably nobody can.”

    I see strategy as more message, competition, USP, etc., and tactics as “55 ways to use YouTube.” So I’d put the topic of this totally amazing post into a broader category of “strategy.” Fortunately there’s no High Commissioner of Definitions …yet.

    1. Peter Sandeen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Cathy,

      Thanks 🙂

      Interesting how differently people define the terms. It’s also quite problematic for people who aren’t well aware of the varying definitions, though, so perhaps some dictator of definitions would have some use 😉

      Cheers,
      Peter

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