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Why We Need Direction, Not More 170gsm Flyers & Twitter Hours


You can’t just be led by the tactic; you have to be guided with the direction.

When you have direction, the tactic works better.

From the REACTOR framework this one comes under ‘topical’ and ‘opinion’.

Failure To Know Your Audience. (3)

I was asked to participate in an event in my town last week, organised by the local council, alongside other businesses. As Poole is my hometown, I guess it felt right to get involved.

This was an event targeted for retailers to partake within two events (one last week, one this week).

The event last week was sparse to say the least. Hardly anyone had turned up, I felt sorry for the organiser. This also meant that the second event, the following week, was cancelled due to a complete lack of interest.

When I asked what the council had done to target retailers within the town, everything was centred on a flyer that was handed out in the hope they would find of interest and take part.


Lets Break It Down

This is where the pressure was. Everything was focused on the tactic rather than an understanding on what the council wanted to achieve and the retailer audience to understand the value. There were no places to find out more and make that connection. No landing page, no intentions to educate, no means of building a conversation, just a cold flyer handed to someone in a store.

This is the mistake that many businesses make. It doesn’t have to be this hard when thinking that a sizeable print run is going to give a 5% return, it just won’t happen. When you get the strategy right, it puts slightly less pressure on the tactical side.

It is far too easy just to make the decision and say, ‘lets print’ without why you are printing in the first place.


Working To A Structure

We all need direction, even Poole Council. Before a ‘lets put on an event’ was even allowed to build momentum, things could have been different with a simple framework to work to. Even if you are just teetering on the plan for the mass Christmas mail out, put the breaks on. Lets get back to basics in recognising:

YOUR OBJECTIVE: before you have this vision of people clambering to sign up, there has to be a goal (why not read why you need a content goal). You have to recognise who’s behaviour you are looking to change and the return gained.

YOUR STRATEGY: for anything to work, you need a framework. How can you strike a chord in someone else for them to react and to have an affiliation with you? This represents the big picture.

YOUR TACTICS: once you have an idea of the objective and the strategy, then you can start looking at how a message can be delivered. Tactics are the implementation tools that make the strategy work. These are the tiny pictures that make up the big picture.

How Things Could Have Worked

Lets bring things back to Poole Council as the example for how this can work.

The objective could be to make retailers confident and create a story that is differentiated from their retail competition. The strategy could be to educate retailers in a way that doesn’t feel disconnected but to help them build momentum and generate a habit that they become the dependable choice for their customers.

Finally, the tactic could be to draw retailers to a site that supports the strategy to educate and utilise the network of local businesses that can provide opinion and insight for retailers (from email, to recruitment, to becoming consistent with a message). If a flyer is introduced this should be to lead everyone to a URL (the call to action) where they can see value.

What last week highlighted was that a tactic in itself will not canvas the support that you are looking for. It just becomes a drain on resources and time.

I know that it feels exciting to spend time coming up with a great idea and seeing how it looks in print, but there has to be a spark and a framework. Just because you have a good idea, doesn’t make it a good idea. Everything has to link back to why you are doing it.

If a tactic supports a strategy and part of a longer-term plan ie. the series of events from the council were a commitment, not a ‘tick the box, we’re doing stuff for the retailers aren’t we?’ it can become a strong piece of armoury.


Why We Need Direction

Are you ready to spend more time on the direction rather than the delivery?

Here is a step by step process, intended to provide direction for what you stand for.


It is intended to:

  • understand who your audience is
  • the information that they will receive and an understanding on what your audience wants to achieve
  • the value that they will receive for them to make an attachment to you and your message. This is about capturing the imagination and interest of someone else

For instance, Poole Council has one of their persona groups as retailers. The reason the events nosedived is that there was no commitment to providing value, but a one off event that was devoid of looking to connect but to dictate ie. we’ll talk, you’ll listen.

If Poole Council were committed to retailers (and I am in no doubt that they want to be), then what is created has to be centred on an audience and how they want to spend their time.


Lets Round Up

This comes back to you and your message. I am seeing it far more frequently, that just because people have the tools, doesn’t mean it will create the return.

From having access to create an event easily on Eventbrite to telling the world about the event on Twitter and then emailing everyone (all tactics) doesn’t mean that people will come. It’s far easier to publish than it has ever been. The press of the ‘publish’ button can have a warmer feeling than understanding the whole reason why you are publishing in the first place.

I am finding that part of the answer comes down to two questions to ask:

  • can you become creative in order to build a community around what you truly believe in?
  • can you capture the imagination and attention of other people on a consistent basis?

Looking back at the event from Poole Council, the story that was told to get retailers excited was just a tiny fragment that should be part of a much bigger story. It just didn’t resonate and connect.

The biggest challenge today is to stop thinking that tactics should drive us but to at least have guidance for how we resonate with others.

We need to stop acting like marketers and the answer being at the bottom of a 170gsm box of flyers but to really understand who our audience is. You need to have the ability to create an association with someone else and to consistently deliver, that it creates enough value for someone to act.

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