Don’t Sacrifice Strategy for Speed

By Tim Steele | 2.2.18

On the journey to implement digital marketing tactics and gain big wins with speed, far too many B2B marketers have abandoned essential marketing fundamentals. They’ve sacrificed strategy for speed and traded smart messaging for shotgun distribution. It’s no wonder marketing is in turmoil. 


One of the key tenets in marketing has long been, “The value position is determined by the opinion of external parties,” which Treacey & Wiersema cited in their Value Discipline Model.


Simply put, we as marketers should be listening to customers and making strategic decisions based on customers behaviors, expectations, and needs — not on our own assumptions.


Unfortunately, many B2B marketers have succumbed to the temptation of in-market tactics in a rush to capture market share, foregoing any discipline around capturing and assimilating the voice of the customer. These marketers have lost patience with the process that illuminates the attributes that help create an unfair advantage: why we win, why we lose, and what customers truly value in their experience with our company. 


The result? Most B2B marketers think their digital marketing efforts are inadequate. Eight-nine percent of B2B marketers polled believe their digital marketing mix isn’t optimized and 71% say their digital advertising often fails to meet expectations, according to a report from Demandbase and Wakefield Research, which surveyed 500 B2B marketing executives.


It's no wonder customers’ expectations aren’t being met.


We B2B marketers are too tempted to bypass strategy, analysis, and planning to get to execution, because execution is where we see results. This is akin to putting the roof on a house before the foundation is built. 

Another reason B2B marketers will skate right to execution is they assume their value proposition is sound. Doing so is dangerous. Markets are moving at hyper-speed and the buyers’ demographic mix is an amalgam of Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers. This might be the most diverse mix of decision makers in history. Consequently, creating smart “Value Communications” will not work without customer input.

Note that in eConsultancy’s M3 Model (at left), Strategy & Insight are where marketers should spend 50 percent of their efforts for a sound go-to-market plan. Every CMO should have the M3 Model displayed on their wall, share it with their team, and become disciplined using it without skipping steps.

There is no tactic that promises to be a magic bullet. Understanding the voice of the customer comes close. The magic is in understanding what the "voice" means to your strategy and how to leverage that to optimize your go-to-market plan. Proper strategy formulation using the voice of the customer validates your Value Proposition, informs Value Communications, and ensures that Value Delivery keeps the promise of the value proposition.

Capturing the voice of the customer is not difficult, but it does take time. Speed to market isn’t the only way to win.

So, slow down.


This column was adapted from The Cort Group’s blog post,

“Reconciling Classic & Digital Marketing: We've Sacrificed Strategy for Speed”

About the Author

Tim Steele is Chief Strategy Officer of Cort Group. He spent the first eighteen years of his career leading sales and marketing for such companies as Unisys, Modis and DCA. In 2000, Tim started ADDISON Group and set out to help midmarket companies capture the voice of the customer and drive revenue with effectiveness. After several years, ADDISON Group became Caxton Growth Partners through an acquisition, where Tim served as managing partner and led go-to-market initiatives for such companies as Capgemini and Fujitsu.