In Eastern philosophy yin yang represents the concept of duality. Two halves working together toward wholeness and harmony. It’s the dance of opposites — where seemingly contrary forces are actually complementary.
Like marketing strategy and tactics.
“Wholeness” — ie optimal results — is only achieved when you strike that delicate balance between the two. When the marketing tactics flow naturally from the brand strategy.
If your marketing efforts are predominantly tactical, without adequate strategy, you’ll be throwing money at ill-conceived tactics. Ready, fire aim!
If your marketing efforts are tipped the other direction, you’ll spend all your time preparing, planning and aiming, without pulling the trigger.
When you employ both halves of the marketing equation you can touch a glorious chord of emotion while still employing a data-driven strategy. It’s old-school story telling balanced with new technology and analytics.
Right-brain creativity with left-brain analysis. Yin and yang. Marketing strategy and tactics. One cannot live without the other.
All marketing programs are a mix of strategy and tactics, but most small business owners gravitate heavily toward the tactical side of the equation. They forego the strategy part for several reasons:
• Because they can’t do it themselves or they don’t understand it.
• Because they perceive it as being too expensive.
• Because they don’t have time… too many other things to do.
• Because they don’t see the value in it.
They skip the most important step to save a few bucks, but then dump a lot of money into ill-conceived tactics.
They use social media specialists and graphic artists to produce content. They purchase TV time and digital ads. They produce videos for YouTube and run radio ads, but there is no thread of continuity. No consistency of voice or message. No strategic platform from which to work.
Therefore, the effectiveness of each tactic is compromised.
Let’s look at some of the opposing, yin yang elements of any good marketing program:
Inward vs. outward.
Many businesses are too inwardly focused when it comes to marketing.
Instead of addressing the needs, wants and emotions of their prospects, they talk about themselves and their industry. It’s all me, me, me, me, with a bunch of jargon thrown in for credibility purposes.
Not only that, outward facing marketing tactics and messages are often out-of-balance with the internal operation of the company. The ultimate success of your brand doesn’t hinge on what the marketing people say, it hinges on what you actually do. When you do great things, effective marketing messages are much easier to come by.
So what are you doing internally that your marketing department could build a strategy around? On the other hand, is your marketing promising something you cannot deliver?
If you want your marketing strategy and tactics to balance, you can’t underestimate the influence of feelings.
Many business owners operate as if cold, calculating characters like Spock make all the buying decisions. They line up the spreadsheets, produce some charts and graphs, and expect facts and data to do all the work. But it NEVER does.
The latest brain research — fMRI testing — proves that emotion commingles with reason, even in rigorous business-to-business purchasing decisions. In fact, many studies show it’s emotion that triggers action.
As one writer put it, “emotion is in the Oval office while the rational brain is in the press center, justifying the decisions that have already been made.”
Trust is not a rational thing. Trust is a feeling. And it’s trust that builds brand loyalty.
Simon Sinek says it succinctly, “Most companies are quite adept at at winning minds; all that requires is a comparison of features. Winning hearts, however, takes more work. That starts with WHY. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Fast vs. slow
Some tactics need to get done quickly. For instance, social media posts are often very time sensitive, so there’s not much consideration for craftsmanship. Promotions are also short-term. TV commercials or print ads, on the other hand, demand careful attention to detail, so you need to leave time to do it right. Branding is a long-haul play.
Strategy also takes time and thoughtful consideration. Strategic issues arise when the strategy is rushed to accommodate the tactical to-do list. Confusion and credibility issues arise when the tactics are produced in a vacuum, with no strategic guidance. All yang, and no yin.
Positive vs. negative
Some marketers believe that you should never mention the competition. Always stick to a rosy picture of positivity, they say.
But there are some strategic situations that demand a negative approach to execution. Sometimes it’s simply stronger to refer to someone else’s weakness than to talk about your own strengths. Sometimes the fear of loss is more powerful than the prospect of gain.
The yin & yang of competition is often the most poignant and effective approach for campaigns.
All great brands have arch enemies. Coke has Pepsi. McDonalds has Burger King. Apple has Microsoft. Don’t shy away from that just because you’re afraid of offending someone. Better to offend some, than be invisible to everyone.
That said, you can’t have a marketing campaign that’s completely negative, all the time. Especially in small town. It’ll probably come off as snarky.
Masculine vs. Feminine
A comedian once said that women make 80% of all the decisions — and they have veto power over the other 20%.
Keep that in mind when you’re working on tactics, planning your strategy and building a brand. Women remember things! And they’ll attach very strong emotions to those memories, so you better not piss them off.
On the other hand, if you show genuine empathy, and make them feel good, they’ll be great brand ambassadors for you. And don’t forget… Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram skew heavily toward women.
Long term brand building vs. Short-term promotions
The marketing trend over the past 15 years has been slowly moving toward more and more short-term “brand activations” and promotions. Less spending on long-term brand building.
But all the research on the subject proves that advertising effectiveness hinges on a balanced mix of media choices and tactics. In fact, according to research from Les Binet & Peter Field the optimal mix for brands across all categories is a 60-40 split in favor of brand building.
Promotions and brand activations provide a nice short-term boost, but the effects drop off immediately and do not lead to overall brand growth. For that, you need both.
Yin Yang is not static. Neither is your marketing.
The nature of Yin Yang flows and changes with time. So does your marketing.
Sometimes it’s stop and go. Some initiatives are purely tactical, while others are more strategic. Factors outside your control can change your strategy completely or rob you of tactics that you once counted on.
The seasonal nature of most businesses means that tactics may be bunched heavily into one time of year, while planning takes place another. Not only that, goals can change dramatically from one year to another. So you can’t just upload the same marketing plan year after year and expect it to work. You can’t keep running the same ads on the same shows or websites.
The balance point is always shifting. Hot & cold. In and out. Yin and yang. Start every year fresh, with no preconceived notions. Enlightenment is achieved only when marketing strategy and tactics come together.
If you’re wondering about your own balance point, give us a call. Let’s start a conversation about your brand. We can provide a thorough, unbiased yin yang assessment of your strategy and your tactics. 541-815-0075.