KaarinaavatarI’d like to welcome my very special and entirely virtual friend (well, not entirely virtual, she does exist!) Kaarina Dillabough to the blog today. It blows my mind that through the power of the social web you can connect with like-minded people and foster relationships with them. And Kaarina Dillabough is proof positive of this  phenomenon.

Kaarina’s blog ‘Decide 2 Do’ is a regular read for me, especially since I came across her brilliant idea of Team Blog Jack! And she is also a member of one of the tribes I am a member of on the fabulous Triberr platform.

Our membership of the tribe has led to each of us sharing the others blogs to our followers, and commenting on stuff that we’ve enjoyed when we’ve read it. This regular engagement has resulted in us forming this unique relationship as friends and colleagues, and I am delighted to introduce you to her today.

Make sure you check Kaarina’s blog out too – its well worth it.

What is Marketing Strategy?


How many times have you thought about your marketing mechanisms – things like brochures, business cards, advertisements, website and the like – independent of an overall plan or strategy?

That’s a tactical approach, and it’s like placing money on a windowsill, opening the window and watching your money fly away.

In absence of an over-arching strategy, tactics “might” bring results, but it’s a hit and miss game.

I liken it to a jigsaw puzzle.

A marketing strategy is like the photograph on the puzzle box.

You know what the end result will look like from the outset. You begin with the end in mind.

Then, guided by the intended results, you place each piece of the puzzle into place, in order to achieve the desired result.

Sometimes the pieces fit. Sometimes they don’t.

But you proceed by trying different combinations until you achieve success.

The same goes for marketing.

Some things will work. Some won’t. But your chances of success…of getting sales and making money in your business are far greater when you have a strategy in place. As the saying goes: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

How do you create a marketing strategy?

First of all, you need to delve into the “why”…Why will you choose to do one thing over another? After all, if you don’t know the ‘why’ the ‘how’ doesn’t matter.

I’ve encountered many clients in the past who quickly jump on the bandwagon with the latest tactic, without serious consideration of the question: What significant, beneficial difference will this initiative make to the life of the customer, and hence to the profitability of my company?

And there are really only a few ways in which we can increase revenues and profits:

  • By getting our current customers to buy more
  • By getting our current customers to buy more frequently
  • By getting more/new customers
  • By wooing back our former customers

In absence of a marketing strategy, and a clear identification of the purpose (the ‘why) for our tactics, we can expend a great deal of time, money and energy with very little return.

Think of it this way.

Your marketing strategy should be based on your company goals. What is that you want to achieve, in both qualitative and quantitative measures? What’s the purpose of your business? What does it stand for? What’s its mission? Are your activities and initiatives aligned with a company culture of purpose and values?

MarketingSYour marketing plan is simply the roadmap to get you there.

Strategy is about the thinking.

Planning is about the doing.

And I often joke that we’re marketing 24-7. Everything we do, say, wear and express are representations of our company and what it stands for.

For example…that the person who cut you off in traffic and to whom you flipped the bird will be the very person to whom you’ll be pitching your product to. That person who rammed their shopping cart into the back of your heel by mistake, and to whom you swore a blue streak to, will be the CEO of the company you’ll be meeting with later that day.

Our marketing strategy should be inextricably tied to our values, purpose and mission, and each and every person in the company should realize the critical role they play in delivering the message, each and every day.

So the next time you think about twitter, Facebook, google+, LinkedIn, brochures, websites, trade shows, advertisements, press releases and on and on and on and on…Remember: these are all tactics.

You need to be where your customers need you to be. And like the jigsaw puzzle, you must have a clear picture of what that looks like.

Kaarina Dillabough


Kaarina is a business/life coach living in Ontario, Canada. For over 25 years her high-voltage energy, expertise and experience has inspired those she has worked with to reach beyond their grasp, to attain great things in business and in life. A former Olympic sports colour commentator and coach, Kaarina parlayed her coaching skills from the gym floor to the boardroom, working with business owners to improve their profitability and prosperity. In doing so, she has seen people grow both personally and professionally. Kaarina is known as an inspiring motivational speaker in areas such as branding, marketing, business growth strategies, and personal growth and prosperity. She is a passionate, seasoned coach and accountability partner with a proven track record, who loves nothing more than helping people achieve their goals in business and in life. Check out her Blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Email contact: kaarina (at) kaarinadillabough (dot) com


Kaarina Dillabough

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26 replies
    • Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
      Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

      So true Erin. So many people get tangled up in the tactics, without asking themselves the critical question: WHY am I doing what I’m doing, for what significant, beneficial difference for my customer and my business? Thanks for chiming in. Cheers! Kaarina

  1. Bill Dorman (@bdorman264)
    Bill Dorman (@bdorman264) says:

    That’s why I don’t put a Lanier Upshaw license tag on the front of my car; I’m afraid my driving might give people the wrong impression of me and my firm…:).
    The other saying is “if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?”
    Good post ma’am; hope all is well in your world, bears and all….

    • Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
      Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

      Bears and snowshoes and moose, oh my:) Great to see you here Bill – thanks so much for dropping by. You know you always bring a smile to my day. Hope all is well and that your son is enjoying his new job at your firm. Cheers! Kaarina P.S. Any more geese or gators on the golf course? 😉

  2. Susan Mazza
    Susan Mazza says:

    “Strategy is about the thinking. Planning is about the doing.” Well said Kaarina! In many ways the thinking is harder work than the doing. There is a tendency to rush to action, probably because action makes you feel like you are making progress. I also really love the metaphor that a marketing strategy is like the photograph on the puzzle box – a great metaphor for any aspect of business. Very useful as I work on my 2013 marketing strategy.

    • Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
      Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

      Glad you found the metaphor useful Susan. As we look to what 2013 will bring (Mayan calendar aside, haha!) it’s important for us to do that check in and check up. I also use what I call the stoplight questions as I do my thinking…”What am I doing now that I should continue doing? What am I doing now that I should stop doing? and What have I not yet considered fully that I should start doing?” Action is so very important, but action without strategy can encounter many unnecessary bumps in the road. Cheers! Kaarina

  3. Jayme Soulati (@Soulati)
    Jayme Soulati (@Soulati) says:

    Wanted to ensure I reiterate the “Who” aspect of marketing strategy, here, as well. You glossed over it toward the end of the piece, Kaarina, but having the right team in place is essential, and because of the new blended nature of marketing, digital, PR, social, etc., we have to have the competency represented and upheld so everyone succeeds and helps build upon strategy. Good stuff!

  4. rdopping
    rdopping says:

    Hey Kaarina,

    I am a big fan of Simon Sinek’s work; the why before the how. I agree with Jayme too. The team plays a big role. I realize you are talking about strategy here but I also see marketing (or customer service) as a team based effort. Keeping our clients happy plays right into your 2nd & 4th bullet points. The adage that it costs a lot less to keep a client than to get a new one has always been important to me. Cheers!

    • Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
      Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

      Customer acquisition definitely costs more than retention, so it’s puzzling as to why so many companies spend so much money to acquire customers, then virtually take them for granted after the “honeymoon”. Like most things in life, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, so teamwork?…yes! Cheers! Kaarina

  5. Tony Dowling
    Tony Dowling says:

    I’d like to again thank Kaarina for the post (and maybe hint that the follow up post mentioned in this discussion would fit perfectly here!)
    What I hadn’t expected to see were so many of you visiting here and leaving such great comments!
    So thank you to you guys too, I really appreciate the time taken to post a thought or a perspective.
    I’d love it if you’d wander around on the site and check out some of the other posts, you’ll always be welcome here!

  6. Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
    Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

    Tony, it was a pleasure to craft this post for you, and I trust that all who dropped by will wander around your site and get to know you and your work even better. And I’d be delighted to do a follow-up post on why there IS an “I” in team…are your curious? We can make it happen. Cheers! Kaarina

  7. Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg)
    Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg) says:

    Marketing is tough, at least for me and books. I dread it, but alas, sometimes one needs to do signings, set up blog tours, and spend many days and weeks getting stuff ready. It isn’t writing, writing is fun. The reality is that for the indie author, until the tipping point is reached, almost ever sale will come from a personal interaction. It can take a lot of work to grind out a sale and that can be frustrating, but for me, I realize that building a readership is about finding readers. Some of them will come back and read the next novel and maybe the one after that.

    You are right about the puzzle metaphor, but sometimes it is hard to see the picture on the box.

    • Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
      Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

      I will draw one for you Brian…anytime:) Personal interaction is still a wonderful way to build a business, especially for you as a writer. After all, everyone wants that autographed copy, that chance to meet you at a book signing, that photo with the author. Continue to find your readers: your current chapters are unfolding beautifully. Cheers! Kaarina

  8. Late Bloomers
    Late Bloomers says:

    The WHY before the HOW, it will always remind me of you, ma reine du printemps! The other day I was in a meeting with a potential client and we were discussing a possible SMM strategy for his company (btw an interesting fact: Swiss marketing managers spend an average 16 hours online per week, is this not amazingly low?), first you build the engine, then you add the body and lastly put some fuel in that tank. Well, you could also start with the fuel but this would take us right back to your money-on-the-sill analogy!

    Perfect, I love your post, Kaarina!

  9. Carolyn Nicander Mohr
    Carolyn Nicander Mohr says:

    Hi Kaarina, Excellent post. Your analogies to puzzle pieces and maps are spot on. Sometimes people try a marketing strategy that doesn’t fit but they try to force it in. Kind of like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit. Try to find one that does if you want your marketing plan to look like the picture on the box.

    I also like your tip that marketing needs to happen 24/7. You’re right that people should show good character all the time, not just while in the office. People want to do business with people they respect so behave when you’re in the car as much as you would in the conference room.

    • Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough)
      Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) says:

      Thanks Carolyn: I like your statement “behave when you’re in the car as much as you would in the conference room.” I’m regularly telling clients that who we are and what we stand for isn’t a suit and mask we put on in the morning, only for business. Whether we’re standing in a check-out line, cheering a team on in an arena of simply walking down the street, what we project IS noticed. And the world’s a very small place. If we believe we just have to “turn on the charm” in business settings or situations, that can come back to bite us in the butt, big time. Cheers! Kaarina

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