Did Iteration kill Strategization? (or strategy if you want to be grammatically correct)

Yep! I made up a word – ‘strategization’.  I figure in today’s casual IM/Facebook/Email world – new words can come from anywhere.  

Something fantastic that the digital era has given us is ‘rapid iteration’.  Today we can launch a website, facebook page/tab, blog and pretty much iterate, update, and change things on the fly, instantly.  If something isn’t working we can change it!  If this facebook promotion doesn’t work, we can evolve it and try a different one next month! If this app isn’t working we can send a patch/update and improve what folks don’t like!!  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a/b testing, metrics and evolving based on real time data from clients and consumers, however, I fear this fantastic addition to our world is also making us a little lazy and addicted to trying instead of thinking.

Instead of asking the hard questions first we’re jumping right into solutions and tactics.  In today’s world, if something isn’t working we make revisions, send patches, pull the plug or suggest changes for next time.  A lot of this is also due to time constraints and the need for ‘instant marketing’ to make an impact.  Trust me, I love the idea of constant beta and always evolving, but it shouldn’t replace the value of upfront research, strategy and planning.   This is the same step that seems to be skipped because of the ‘me too’ approach.  This ____(insert campaign or tactic here) was really successful, lets do it for _____ (insert brand or product here)!!  Guess what! The reason that ___ was likely successful was because it wasn’t a shot in the dark but based in research, consumer insight, aligned with goals and then created in a reasonable amount of time.  Don’t fall into the ‘me too’ category too often, consumers are smarter than you think and they know when you’re not being authentic or ‘real’ to who you are or who the target is.  Speak to them, not to deadlines or award submissions or executives.  (i know this is easier said than done, but I write in an idealistic world)

We all want to have an award winning campaign.  We all want to push the envelope and develop the next new idea in marketing, product development and technology.  But, what’s most important is doing what will work for the goals at hand. A facebook promotion may not be sexy, but it may get 5,000 more people aware of a small company or brand.  An outdoor billboard might sound so 1999, but if you need people to find your new store location, it might be perfect.

Spend your money where it will work the hardest and spend your time where it will be the best investment.  We all like to learn from our experiences and journeys. But make sure you do some thinking up front. Don’t always shoot from the hip and bank on ‘iteration’ as the “fail safe.” Your thinking will pay off in the long run for that program and for all the future ones that follow.

Your bosses or clients may hate the time it takes, but they will hate the ‘beta failed’ experience much more!


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