Executive Guidance: Strategy vs Tactics of new media business

There are many executives who focus on cool new technologies simply because they read an article in some media magazine… usually the same executive comes back with “Wow, this sounds amazing!” and begin asking for tactics from staff and vendors to accomplish the same results.

The “This sounds amazing!” idea they took from the magazine is completely removed from reality and is almost guaranteed to have no meat to it.

It comes to most of us as no great surprise that most media coverage is rooted in selling “sexy.” If it isn’t hot now, the editor needs to make it hot. They need to make it sound fantastic. They need to sell magazines. When there is a blemish on the photo… it will get fixed. When there is a column on the spreadsheet that doesn’t match… it rarely gets corrected and often gets deleted.

New media has been caught up in this whirlwind for over a decade.

When an exec or client is stuck on the latest craze, we have to get them re-focused on functional tactics that can be applied to a holistic strategy that works for them.

You can’t simply carbon-copy an idea from six months ago that has now found some media coverage. There are some fundamental reasons for this:

  • If it is in print… you can guarantee it is at least sixty days old (if not six months old)
  • The spectacle that was made of the example is not really that sexy, not that easy.
  • The typical case highlighted by media is often comparable to winning the lottery.
    It leaves you thinking “sure it can happen…. and I hope it happens to me!”
  • The numbers being quoted are almost never supported and fail any due-diligence
    (taken out of context, 99.8% of statistics seem worthwhile.)
  • If it is being covered by a major media outlet: it is no longer unique

This leads us to ask questions that adjust the executives overall line of thinking. You have to engage those decision makers with applicable data that takes you outside of being an order taker, while detailing how you can add value to strategic decisions. The end result: create industry-changing projects that are based off demographic and psychographic trends, while maximizing the capabilities of the existing business.

Some bullet points that help this type of tactics vs strategy approach:

  • Think strategic:
    • Highlight where you where, where you are, and where you want to be.
    • Highlight where competitors where, where they are, and where you want them to be.
    • Use client discovery from all executives, not just marketing and public relations.
    • Allow business leaders to define vision, then backwards engineer tactics to get there.
    • Scale against existing project frameworks and introduce new ones.
    • Define team and individual accountability, take responsibility.
  • Ask questions:

    • What facts and details highlight if your exec team has a bad idea?
    • What is the pain point of the business no one wants to talk about?
    • How can you prevent executive hi-jacking of projects?
    • What team members are critical to success… and who needs to be eliminated?
    • If you are choosing to play in a new game arena…are you playing at the right scale?
    • Who on the team is a strategic asset, and who gets the tactics done?

This line of thinking and the questions around it create the difference between strategic and tactical thinking. If your executive team is waving around the latest industry journal saying “me too! me too!” and wanting to jump into ill-defined waters, help them understand the differences between selling media using sex… and building effective business assets for long-term success.