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Sound Strategy: This Magic Ingredient is Often Missing From Marketing Plans

By Robert Wheatley//October 31, 2023//

Sound Strategy: This Magic Ingredient is Often Missing From Marketing Plans

By: Robert Wheatley//October 31, 2023//

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What occasionally masquerades as strategy in pet brand marketing plans most often isn’t really strategy. Usually, it’s a misappropriation of the word that leaves volumes of value on the table because often true strategy is routinely underleveraged in go-to-market thinking.


What is strategy?

Sound strategy is a blueprint for your brand and company that informs decisions and behaviors. It should incite action. It is an active driver of a never-ending quest to identify unique benefits only your brand can provide.

A great strategy immediately inspires you, your team and the business. It always seeks to make your brand different, not better. Different is a path to uniqueness and separation. Better is a slippery slope to sameness and myopic focus on competing brands that feeds commodity-style behaviors and eventual margin eating price competition.

  • Sound strategy is most often found at the intersection of lofty aspirational goals, savvy cultural insight and refined brand higher purpose, meaning and values.


What shouldn’t pose as strategy

Tactical goals – you already know how to achieve:

  • Seeking sales growth.
  • Adding flavors and line extensions.
  • Expanding distribution.

Strategic goals – you don’t know yet how to achieve:

  • Rethinking the business you’re in.
  • Creating entirely new categories.
  • Reimagining the path to purchase.

Strategy never coexists with lower-grade ambitions. An example: increasing sales by 20 percent is not a strategic challenge. It is by definition a tactical exercise, in part because you already know what to do. Promotions, incentives and offers are well-traveled roads designed to lift velocity and volume. You just need a heavy dose of relevant communication in the right channels to ignite the pipeline.


Sound strategy incubates in the imagination

Higher grade goals lead to strategic thinking because the path stretches beyond what is already understood. Strategy-led brands always have bigger ambitions where you don’t reflexively know how to achieve the higher goal. Doing more of the same won’t suffice. You must do something different. When you stretch beyond the known – like navigating evolving consumer behavior – it provokes a strategy – a new way to think about and activate your brand.

Great strategy creates questions, it answers them. It is directional and immediately, intuitively informs your business decisions. It doesn’t need to be complex. Nor should it require 16 Venn diagrams to explain. Sound strategy is both obvious and easy to understand. You know you’re in the presence of a great strategic idea (new category creation for example) when it makes you feel something, when you’re genuinely excited about the prospects that lie ahead.


How to present a strategic game plan

Just as sound strategic ideas aren’t complex, so too is the outline to present it. Here’s a quick diagnostic on the structure of your strategy presentation.


Step one: The Argument for Sound Strategy

Provide a read on current business conditions.

Summarize your core idea that drives toward higher ambitions and heightened differentiation.

Your take on why it will work.


Step two: The Strategy Statement

In a nutshell, summarize the strategic game plan you’re proposing.

It should be expressed as directional.

It will inform actions rather than generate questions.


Step three: Implications of the Strategy

Requirements to execute.

Changes needed to your current business planning and process.

Any organizational moves needed to support company/strategy success.


Step four: Recommended Flow of Work

Teams required to get underway.

Their responsibilities and scope of work.

The sequence of deliverables

Think big. Create ambitious goals. Pursue difference. There you have the call for a strategy-led pet brand.


Robert Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, The Healthy Living Agency. Emergent can help pet brands erase ineffective self-promotion and replace it with clarity and deeper meaning in their pet parent relationships and brand communication.