Monday, April 4, 2011

Ten easy steps to bad strategy

I've spent most of my time on the client side of the marketing equation and had the chance to work with some of the best agencies in the business. I must've seen on average at least one agency presentation per week and dozens of internal strategy presentations for five or so years.

That's a lot of Power Point, my friend.

The good ones were eye-opening and often quite to-the-point. The bad ones, well.. not so much. For anyone who really wants to write a really bad strategy presentation I've gathered the top 10 tips:

1) Rely on semantics and nuances.
Strategy, after all, is an art-form. The more delicate you can make it, the better. If possible try to write it in a haiku form. That'll show 'em.

2) Never, ever summarize. To summarize is to simplify and that is kryptonite for bad strategy. If you must summarize, try to fit all the same things you've just shown on one slide by making the font really really small.

3) Never share incomplete work. One strategy is one whole. To share early stage thinking could contaminate your work with thoughts or comments from others. It could be subject to criticism and need to reflect on things such as reality. Which are totally unnecessary boundaries for bad strategy.

4) Approved strategy never changes. Once strategy is approved it receives divine blessing and to critique it is heresy. No matter if the reality changes around you, your bad strategy never should.

5) Channel agnostism = don't plan channels. You don't need to worry about things like search, social, retail and mobile... after all you plan everything in a channel agnostic way. It would be pedestrian to actually plan something for a specific purpose.

6) How to write insights? In big red fonts! It's an insight if you say so! What is an insight after all? It's basically a mystical mantra that gives you permission to back up any idea under the sun to "ladder up" to your strategy. Just make sure it's going to vague enough, so you don't paint your self in a corner.

7) Think of KPI's later. No matter what stage you are, you should probably think of KPI's later. The only exception is when it's already too late to think of KPI's for this particular project.

8) Use social media to create buzz about stuff. Buzz is important for stuff, so people can take part in the conversation to engage with early adopters in order to seed behaviors in the social spehere. Stuff. Buzz. Social. You know?

9) Spend your time making it pretty. Witnessing strategy being presented should be a powerful emotional experience, so you should spend most of your time making the presentation thing of beauty.

10) And finally; make any idea fit the strategy. After all, who are we kidding here, bad strategy exists just to fill the gap between the client ordering something and seeing the print. So it's basically there to fluff the clients and keep them warm, so that they'll buy something at the end of the day.

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