Have you ever stopped to consider strategy vs innovation? It’s an interesting question. Which company do you think has the upper edge: Twitter in creating a whole new channel for social media, or Amazon in creating the largest online store in existence? One is a great example of innovation, the other in relentlessly pursuing a corporate strategy to hone a competitive advantage.
Earlier this week as I read Joanna O’Connell’s Marketer’s Note, I couldn’t help but think of comments I read in the Win-Loss reviews we conduct with clients and prospects at Acxiom. Joanna included a great quote from David Williams, Chairman and CEO of our colleagues at Merkle, “This industry needs to stop buying capabilities. There’s too much focus on capability, capability, capability…” We often hear similar comments from our fellow marketers. As much as brands want products and solutions to meet a need, they also want a vision – guidance – and a better understanding of how to use those tools as building blocks for the next great innovation in marketing. One financial services company summed it up perfectly. “We want a partner with a vision that can impact our business.”
To make that vision a reality it’s imperative to start with a clear understanding of the challenge you’re trying to solve. (Heather Hall did a great job of outlining how to do this in this blog.) If you don’t start with “why,” you can get super busy very fast working on a series of tactics that have no connecting thread, value add, or impact on the bottom line. (spinning plates, anyone?)