When learning a language we typically start by memorizing vocabulary, and as our vocabulary progresses we begin learning how to change words to past, present and future tense, possessive, singular and plural. Then we learn how to put words together into sentences. In some languages like Spanish there is also the feminine and masculine versions to memorize.
At a moment in time, for most after years of study and practice, the language just clicks and we become fluent; when we’ve reached a point where we can just let it flow without having to think deeply about how to put words together.
It’s like this in business and marketing as well. For those who went to business school they would have learned a great many details, standard practices, strategies, business vocabulary, and looked at hundreds of case studies, and yet applying their knowledge effectively still requires experience and practice – much like learning vocabulary and sentence structure, but not yet understanding how to assemble words fluidly in every situation.
For example, there are those who see marketing plans as a collection of individual elements that together comprise a strategy, rather than a message with a unique voice and a unique feeling to be conveyed to a particular audience. I’ve also observed c-suite executives present what they think is a strategy to their company, which is really a collection of initiatives, lacking a vision for how the initiatives fit together to take a company in a particular and intended direction.
Marketing plans, as well as business strategy, are evolutionary explorations in defining and creating voice – voice as defined as a unique story about why and how we do what we do.
And so there is a moment in time, as in the example of fluency in language, in which marketing and strategy click, and instead of concentrating on what ad in what publication and what frequency, black and white or color, or how much white space, we focus on the message we want to convey, the tone, the flavor and how it will resonate with a particular audience.
We become fluent in business when we understand the importance of voice and the intangible flavor of what we’re offering, and then let the strategy related to the collection of elements flow from the voice. Para hablar auténtico!