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Mind the Abyss

The black hole of strategic thinking, the activation abyss. Don't let it suck you in and you will be way ahead of your competitors...

The activation abyss stands as a formidable barrier between the conception of a marketing strategy and its successful implementation. This gap, often forgotten in the initial planning stages, poses a substantial challenge for all marketers looking to move strategies into measurable results. Understanding the nuances of the activation abyss in marketing is essential for your business if it is to remain competitive in a dynamic and digitally driven landscape.

What exactly is the Activation Abyss?

The activation abyss in marketing is the disparity between the formulation of a marketing strategy and its execution to achieve whatever the desired outcomes are. It is important to invest significant time and resources in developing comprehensive strategies routed in data and insights but when it comes to implementation the strategy is often ignored even if the tactic is used.

This is as a direct result of the abyss as so often strategies are built from the top down and that is a fundamental flaw. Marketing is often seen and treated as just promotion and it is this that causes a lot of the fault line.

Team Alignment

Imagine the abyss as a stream, with management one side and the marketing team the other. Whilst it is a stream, communication can flow easily, but often even now this flow is just one way. Management to team. That is the start of the problem. A failure to align marketing strategies by involving the whole team so that they are onboard and bought in from the beginning will mean the stream will grow to a river.

Inadequate Data Utilisation 

Data is the cornerstone of good marketing but if the team delivering the tactics are unaware of it and the impact their actions are having, they are not going to change or suggest alternatives. As Einstein said, “you won’t get where you need to be tomorrow with the thinking that got you where you are today”.

This doesn’t mean your strategy is wrong, but it may need tweaking, tactics refining or replacing, but without data the driver (your marketing team) cannot either change or advise on a different direction. No data is a death knell, hidden data is no better. The river now becomes a gorge.

Unaligned Stories

People remember stories and your marketing needs to focus on story telling. Yes, transactionally the product or service needs to be good, but the reality is that the story gets the customer interested in the first place. Without your marketing team fully understanding the story and why your product and service is remarkable there is no way they can deliver content and promotional material that resonates with the brand promise. This starts with involving them in the strategy, uncovering your remarkability and then build the messaging around the remarkability pillars. Without these the gorge turns into a chasm.

Customer Value

It is still possible at a push to cross the chasm, but the final and fatal mistake is that of not understanding why your products and services are valued. Purchases are made through emotional needs or wants, and it is the way buyers feel that generates sales and loyalty.  This value is often uncovered in the strategy but rarely applied to the promotional part of the marketing mix. This is because communications have broken down, data is hidden, stories are ungrounded, and content is beige. At this stage the abyss opens. Marketing continues but it is now ineffective, management are on the wrong side and cannot effect change and the endgame is to declare the strategy wrong.

Sadly, this happens to often. Strategies need to be built together so everyone is engaged and understands the goals, what is valued, the messaging matrix and above all why they are doing what they are doing.

Mind the abyss.

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