Do you have a strategy for why you do what you do?

Your marketing strategy is not your marketing plan.

Although I hope you have many takeaways from these “Marketing is simple—and, misunderstood” articles, this is the article I hope changes how and why you do marketing.

Brands have plans—what your work is, when you do it, how you do it—brands want better plans.

Successful brands have a strategy—the why behind what you do!

Plans fail without strategies. Whether it is no growth, limited growth, short-term success … plans fail without strategies! 20% growth is fine, but it is a failure if 100% growth was the opportunity you missed.

Strategy is saying, “I want to drive from Los Angeles to New York.” Planning is the car, the snacks, the stops, the route—amongst many—you’ll take. Your plans might change (there was a road closure), but your strategy is the same, and you’ll find a way … or, maybe now you want to go to Nashville.

To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us … the Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect in this area in the last few years. And we need to bring it back. The way to do that is not to talk about [features and specifications] it’s not to talk about why we’re better than Windows. Our customers want to know who is Apple and what is it that we stand for? Where do we fit in this world? … what we are about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. We do that better than almost anybody in some cases. But Apple’s about something more than that. Apple at the core—its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe.

That is Steve Jobs, in 1997, reinventing—saving—Apple through brilliant marketing strategy. Here is the strategy, simplified:

  1. (why) At Apple, we believe that (who) people with passion (value) can change the world for the better.
  2. (product) We make products better (quality) than almost anybody (competitive).
  3. (promotion) Brand marketing campaign, “think different.”

The plans, and strategy development, are a much longer article:

iMac, iBook, G4 Cube, Apple Store, iPod, eMac (yes, there was), iTunes, G5, MacMini, MacPro, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Apple TV, iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad, AppStore, Apple Watch, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil.

Strategy matures and plans change when you look forward to your future customers’ wants, needs, and desires.

Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, as grammatically incorrect as it is, was and is one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time:

Here’s to the crazy ones—the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

A strategy and campaign that didn’t say computer, hard drive, system, memory … created one of the largest companies in the world.

Why you do what you do, who you do it for and with, is more important and valuable than how you do it and how great it is.