By Yona Cymerman, Faastr strategist
I’ve been “in strategy” for over 15 years. So two months ago, when the awesome Nili Goldberg posted that she was putting together a group of the best marketing strategists and CMOs in Israel, of course I put my dance card in.
Looking for your fit?
Only later did I discover that nearly 200 candidates reached out. Nili had selected and spoken to 40 different people who referred to themselves as “strategists”. Along the way, we all discovered that strategy and strategists are not all created, educated or alike.
If you ask “old school” marketers and advertisers, there are 3 types of strategists: business, marketing and advertising.
However, as we got to know each other, we realized that together our experience covers the “strategy” gamut from Business – Brand strategies – Messaging – Operational strategies – Product market fit strategies – Customer onboarding – Sales and Marketing Funnels – Digital Marketing – Content – Lead generation – PR, and more. Huh? We hopped on a call to clarify and create a common language amongst us CMOs.
What is strategy?
Elke Aaronson, one of our social media and creative strategists and a pure brazilian optimist shared that to her, strategy is the finding of new possibilities to success.
Lilach Sapir, a veteran in “heavy” B2B industries and also part of our core group pointed out that: “at its best, strategy leverages existing assets and defines which and how to acquire what’s missing, and finally, how to make them work together and / or scale”. So true. In every strategic session we run there is a unique exercise that extracts the assets and building blocks a company has at its disposal.
In the startup world, Nili G shared, everyone likes to keep it short and simple (at least the definitions) Nili’s take from our last team meeting. “Strategy is a clear goal that is broken down to KPIs, accompanied by a direction, a pace (YES) and a process”.
Ultimately, though, the entire team agreed that strategy is a path to build and fulfill a vision (whatever that vision may be). A map to reach a destination. Running a strategic process will give you the stepping stones for that path. The wisdom, is in making sure all those stepping stones align to help you get to where you want to be.
Strategy results in seeing your vision come to life across more pieces of the puzzle, and makes the sum of your venture bigger than its parts.
Faastr’s CMO’s take on pitfalls to look out for when strategizing
Iris Zarzevski worked at leading brands like Unilever. She is sharp, short in words and always brings us back to focus. She reminded us that “building strategies also comes with a few challenges we need to stay on the lookout for”:
- The blurring of lines between goals, expectations and focus on one strategy (while some always to add many sub clauses that eventually hinder focus),
- There is also the expectation that any marketing strategist can build any strategy, or sometimes even any marketer can craft strategy.
- Leaving out the commitment to clear KPIs and time frames.
- The assumption (or wishful thinking) that strategy=implementation.
How to begin a strategic process:
Regardless of the purpose, the strategic process must start with defining that core vision. Only then do we dive into a neutral and objective review of relevant data on the current situation from a variety of internal and external disciplines. Then, once you’ve processed and mapped the vision and the data, can you suggest a strategy.
The bottom line
Going back to the challenges above, the question remains, however, is when should companies strategize and how does a client know who to call and what to expect?
“Strategy is always a companies next growth opportunity. In these crazy times, as long as the company is exploring the next opportunity, it keeps its relevance and keeps evolving” Limor Gurevich, once head of media in one of the leading media agencies. Now, a freelance marketing consultant and one of our CMOs at Faastr.
“How does a client choose? This is the exact challenge I’ve been facing in every discovery call for the past six years” Nili Shared. Usually, the company contemplates between freelance marketing consultants or CMO as a service, in-house hires and agencies. Those are three different approaches. Not all lead to the same in depth results. Moreover, there is a need for the client to crystalize exactly what type of strategy they need and not just listen to the vendor’s forte’s.
“That is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about bringing the best strategist in every marketing niche to collaborate. It’s the best help we can offer: helping companies master every stepping stone on their journey for growth and scale.”