Monday, October 08, 2007

Mind Your Own Business

A tornado-chaser doesn't spend his time wherever the wind blows. He searches in the areas where a tornado is most likely to occur. He doesn't spend his time looking for them during times of low or no activity. He waits patiently during the times when tornadoes are most likely to occur, in the location where they are most likely to occur, and listens carefully to weather reports to be ready to pounce where one is most likely to form.

Although he waits patiently, he isn't resting. He is actively listening, preparing, and adjusting his strategy to the changing weather patterns. But he isn't motivated by the weather. He is motivated by the results he is looking for. The weather simply helps him gauge his strategy.

But what if he approached his activity like we often approach our brand strategy?

Perhaps he would forgo having a strategy. Or he may develop one, because someone said he had to have one. But he simply ignored it. Instead, he goes out with the intent of finding tornadoes, but he uses a shotgun approach. He decides to drive everywhere, because they can occur anywhere. He may think, "Who knows what I'll find? I don't want to leave anyplace unreached."

But he quickly finds, after little success, that he doesn't have the resources or the time to search everywhere. He blames the strategy or plan, or the lack thereof. And he tries something else, thinking that it is waste of time looking for tornadoes anyway.

For us in not-for-profit and for-profit organizations we may say, "Why have a brand strategy? It doesn't work. And it is a waste of time. We just need to market ourselves."

But in reality a typical tornado-chaser is passionate about what she is doing. Some do it better than others. But they all know where to go, and when. In business, it is just as important to not only be passionate, but know where and when to let people know about it, and why it should matter to them.

A good strategy is more than a piece of paper with ink on it. The power of a plan is in its implementation. But implementation without a plan is stupid.

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