It’s become so overused in marketing that the industry has lost sight of what it really means. There’s media strategy, email strategy, creative strategy—you name it and marketers have found a way to make it “strategic.” And as someone who’s developed client strategies for many years, it pains me to hear the word misused.

Let’s set the record straight on strategy.

In business, a true strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources and tactics).

Easy to define? Certainly. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Much harder to execute? You bet. I’ve seen campaigns and programs built without regard for real business objectives; creative concepts, media plans and nurture campaigns launched without clear goals in mind. Did they fail? Not always. Some achieved solid click-through rates or pulled in handfuls of leads, but they weren’t aligned with the priorities of the business. And because they didn’t make meaningful impacts to the business, they weren’t recognized past their readouts.

So, how do we ensure that campaigns and programs are built on a real strategy and not something that just claims to be one?

Here are some checkpoints I’ve used:

Dashboard-Friendly Metrics

Can your chosen metrics be represented on a dashboard, and do they make sense? Asking yourself this question is a great way to make sure your strategy is sound. Don’t choose metrics simply because you can measure them. Find metrics that actually tell you something actionable and connect to the business goal you’re working to achieve.

Cross-Team Alignment

Did you engage all of your stakeholders from the beginning? This is crucial, as true strategy rarely comes from one person or even one team. Make sure that all the right people have a seat at the table and don’t leave anyone out—especially your sales team.

Power to Change

Are you addressing how your brand is perceived in the market, rather than just saying what you want to say? Building a strategy that can change perception means you’ll have to pull out all the stops, connecting everything from creative to media placements with the audience in mind. It’s work, but it’s worth it because it means that your audience can react and respond.

As marketers, building strategies that go beyond program tactics and metrics is the key to delivering results that matter to the leaders of the organization. Ready to take back the word “strategy?” Reach out to us.


There’s media strategy, email strategy, creative strategy—you name it and marketers have found a way to make it “strategic.”

About the Author

Kaurie Hull

Account Director

Kaurie helps develop strategy for client campaigns and ensures that our programs meet client goals.