Lack of strategy = rise of politics

Lack of Strategy = Politics

Was just reading this review of #CMWorld from a few weeks ago in Cleveland — it’s a content marketing conference, if you don’t know — and came across this section:

This approach is the result of us starting out with the assumption that content marketing is for us. This is the end point, she noted—not the starting point. The starting point, she said, was to ask ourselves why we are doing (or are wanting to do) content marketing in the first place. This was the million dollar question that made us momentarily sit back in our chairs and scratch our heads. We need to ask this question first in order to provide the fuel and justification for our content strategy. Otherwise, we’ll succumb to formulating a “strategy” that does not address our primary responsibilities as marketers: business outcomes and customer satisfaction. So, don’t fall into the trap of creating a “strategy” that’s really just a vision (e.g. “We will be the industry leader by delivering content that our customers can’t get enough of”). The main take-away here? Make sure your content strategy fully addresses your goals—not works against them.

I have a couple of thoughts on this.

1. In terms of just “content marketing,” because I’ve written about that a couple of times too, no one really gets it. First off: there’s a major supply-demand problem in content marketing. People forget that and try to produce all this content, instead of producing content that might resonate with the people they’re trying to reach. It becomes a game of quantity and not quality; in turn, that drags down everyone else in the industry/vertical. Here’s the other dumb thing people do: they give consultant contracts to “content marketing experts,” which is ludicrous. If you think your brand or position or value is unique, why would you bring in someone who’s peddling some suite of solutions they peddle to everyone? Meh.

2. I’m a big believer that the whole idea of “daily deliverables” murdered the whole idea of “strategy,” meaning that we’re all heads-down, hair-on-fire about what needs to be done now now now, and that prevents us from standing up and chasing the idea of “Whoa, what are we trying to do overall here?” (This is also a product of the whole public-companies-are-evaluated-every-quarter situation.)

Here’s the thing we talk about less, and should talk about more: when strategy is absent, that gives rise to politics. When people don’t know what goals they’re supposed to hit — which I think is the definition of the absence of strategy — they start chasing relationships and partnerships that can benefit them, which I think is the definition of politics. (I could be wrong on both of these.)

Let me give you an example.

A couple of years ago, I worked at PBS and managed the homepage for a while, right? There were a dozen or so people who were heads-down, hair-on-fire about their daily deliverables, all of whom could have been telling me what the strategy of the front page was supposed to be. (They all outranked me.) So I came up with some ideas — because I’m relatively proactive, in a general sense — and would move elements around the page. After a while, I started getting e-mails from people like “Hey, put (this thing I do) on the front page!”

Because there was no strategy, the focus shifted to politics and relationships. That’s what happens.

People are always running around like “Why is culture important? Why is strategy important? I got targets and goals to hit!”

That stuff is important because when you don’t have it, everyone just starts pursuing something else entirely — politics and partnerships — and that’s not very good either.


Ted Bauer