My old colleague, John Hinchcliffe (now Marketing Director at top mail order business, N Brown) provided my favourite definition of strategy:
“Strategy is a word used by consultants so they can charge you more money.”
How right he was and how wrong so many of us are for giving such credence to these merchants of strategic insight. Such folk give us volumes of carefully prepared, anecdote-riddled, evidence-light guff intended...well, to get some money off us!
I’m with John on another thing, strategy is simple. To misuse my recollection of John’s pithy approach – Damart’s strategy is that they are a mail order company, everything else is tactics. Simple, eh? Once we have defined the place where we intend to conduct exchange – of money, goods, ideas, service, whatever – everything else follows. And there are only three possible places of exchange:
1. Open a shop
2. Publish a catalogue
3. Send a salesman
It’s best to start with just one of these places and get that right. In time – having succeeded with your catalogue – you might open a shop (eg, Lakeland Plastics). Or having created a great retail environment develop a sales-led wholesale import/export business (as Bombay Stores have done). But you start with picking one of the three options and trying out all the tactical variations that follow from the place of exchange you’ve chosen.
As John (I think – but it might have been me) said:
“Marketing is 1% strategy and 99% boring routine!”