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Why do good strategies sometimes miss the target? Why can bad strategies succeed? What often makes the difference is the execution.

Of course nothing beats an excellent strategy that is very well executed. In my career I have seen strategies that were far from optimal. But because they involved communication channels that were familiar to leaders, this made them more involved than they would have been with another strategy. The result was that the objectives were reached.

A recent example comes to mind; that of a retailer that I had as a customer. Three online advertising approaches were used by this client; Facebook content marketing, email marketing to the company's subscriber list, and AdWords campaigns. A first effort during the Holiday season gave us information on the sales from each channel, and we were able to validate them in relation to the amounts invested. By far, the most profitable was email marketing. Second, was AdWords campaigns. And finally, there was Facebook. This retailer chose to go with Facebook, the last option, for an important event! But as we developed a good plan, he was comfortable with Facebook and he executed the plan in a great way, so the results lived up to his expectations. Publications, ads, product images, live Facebook streams and photos with beautiful stories of what was going on in the store meant that for the weeks leading up to the event, including the event itself, a buzz was created. But what made this approach a success was the execution. A minimum of two original publications a day, nice interactions with users and some boosted publications did the trick.

Of course one could wonder what would have been the impact of an excellent execution using the best strategy (sending an e-mail to his customer base). How many more sales would he have had? Nothing will beat an excellent strategy combined with excellent execution. My story stops there.

Another point that may be lacking is consistency. We start going in the right direction with the right strategy, but we run out of steam. We start by publishing every day, then every other day, and then once a week, to end up doing it from time to time. What doesn't help is that in the beginning we have time to do it because we have fewer clients. As our schedule and sales increase, we have less time to continue with our execution. But we must remember that marketing is like a big wheel with a lot of inertia. It is very difficult to start, but once we get it turning, it is easier to keep it moving. In contrast, once we stop pushing our marketing wheel the results will continue for a while, just as our big wheel will continue to spin for some time after we stop pushing it. But eventually it will slow down and stop. The energy needed to get it going again will be the same as in the beginning. So what should we do? We must continue to exert our marketing pressure on this wheel. If there isn't enough time, we must delegate and ask for help either internally or externally. But we must continue. Having customers today does not mean we will have customers tomorrow.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free. In the meantime, happy thinking.


Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant