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Why execution eats strategy for breakfast


For years, I’ve listened to experts and thought leaders tell me PR and digital marketing is all about strategy.

And yes, sound strategic thinking is important.

But I’m here today to tell you that in my experience execution eats strategy for breakfast.

OK, so I’m playing off the old “culture eats strategy for breakfast” cliche. But, I really believe this to be true.

Not because I minimize the value of good strategic thinking.

But because without fantastic execution, the best strategy in the world is useless.

I’ve seen it play out so many times.

And particularly in the social media marketing world.

For example, let’s say you’re Nike (full disclosure: Nike is NOT a client). And you want to sell more fly-net shoes to the younger set (15-18 year-olds). You determine one key way you’ll reach this audience is by using everyday Nike employees to tell stories about how they’re using their fly-nets via Instagram Stories (this is just an example, keep in mind). You determine you’re not going to spend money on Instagram ads, but instead that you’re going to experiment with this “Story” model for six months and then re-evaluate options.

OK, so the strategy is set (again, this is just an example).

Time to execute, right?

But, unfortunately, your team sucks at executing. The visuals, Boomerangs and live videos they come up with absolutely stink. You see limited engagement and in six months you’re on to the next strategy.

The strategy was sound–but the execution cost you in the end.

Here’s another way to think about it. Consider the senior-level folks in your PR/marketing organization at this moment. Why did they ascend to those roles? Was it because they demonstrated sound strategic thinking? Or, because they were excellent executors and doers?

I’ve found the latter to be true at least 80 percent of the time.

Again, execution eats strategy’s lunch (see what I did there?).

I know many are going to disagree with me on this one. But, that’s the way I’ve seen it over the past 20 years of my professional life.

What do YOU think?

photo credit: JaBB VanilleTraum, Clementinen, Birne & Banane via photopin (license)



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