Me: "So what are you learning?"
Client: "I'm learning how relatively small tactics are in the big picture of marketing"
I'll admit it. The response made me smile. Because once people learn to value strategy over tactics marketing becomes pretty simple. Not easy. It's never easy. But it is pretty simple.
The challenge here is that people love to discuss marketing tactics. It is the default position. If you bring a random group of people in to discuss marketing you'll quickly encounter the same questions:
How do we use social media?
What should our tagline be?
How should our postcards look?
Tactics. All of them. And the truth is that, in vacuum, any one answer could be as good as any other. The one way to get to an answer that could be both correct and actionable is by raising above tactics and focusing on strategy. More importantly, it's about having the self/organizational awareness necessary to figure out a strategy.
A good strategy is grounded in reality, which means you need to have some awareness of what reality is. So instead of asking:
How do we use social media? Ask . . .
What are our strengths and can social media help to enhance them? Or . . .
Who is our core customer and how can social media serve them? Or . . .
What is our story and how can social media tell it effectively?
Those three questions are strategic questions. You figure that out and the tactics will present themselves.