When I began as a marketing consultant years ago, I envisioned my “strategy sessions” being ruled by a strict timeline, asking questions that had clients digging to the depths of their brains (and souls), all while playing with over-sized toys and passing the “sharing ball.” I got over that pretty quickly, but somewhere along the way, while looking for icebreaker activities for group strategy sessions, I took one of those internet-available personality tests that told me what superhero I was most akin to. Turns out, I’m Superwoman. So, there. It’s nice to meet you.
Later, I began asking my clients to take the same, very scientific quiz. Over time, I began to find an overwhelming similarity in the client profile results. My clients, who were mostly entrepreneur-types, always tested out as Iron Man. I came to expect this result. And I knew that if it was the case, we’d probably work just fine as a team. Iron Man types possess strong personalities; they aren’t afraid to take risk; they like to have a plan, a back up plan, and a back up to the back up plan. Iron Men often accomplish the perceived impossible, and they like to argue. The last element isn’t always my favorite part about working with Iron Man, but if I am Superwoman, I think I can handle it.
Strategy session after strategy session, Superwoman and Ironman worked together to chart plans for organizations large and small. We walked through discovery sessions together where I asked those soul-searching questions. They explained their pain points. We defined audiences and content assets. We set goals and selected marketing tools. We drafted budgets and designed metrics and dashboards. We weren’t always saving the world together (well, at The A Group, I work with organizations that are CHANGING lives!!) but we tapped into our inner superheroes and created some great marketing plans.
The thing about marketing strategy is that for the plan to be successful, it requires a key element that made Iron Man, well, Iron Man. He is smart, yes. Good looking, yes. Technically savvy, yes. But more important than all of that, he is nimble and strategic. Iron Man is known for developing a suit to protect himself. To use marketing terminology, if Iron Man’s goal is to stay alive and save the world, then his STRATEGY is to use a state of the art, one-of-a-kind suit to do it. The TACTICAL elements are shown in the suit’s ability to fly, shoot lasers, communicate—you get the picture.
The suit exemplifies Iron Man’s original plan, much in the same way that the organizations we work with start out with their own initial plan of action. And then something in the universe happens. An internal or external force changes the game, and Iron Man has to react. While the goal to stay alive and save the world is still the same, Iron Man employs his back up strategy—a new weapon for his suit. And he because he has to act fast, he has to revert to his plan, choose a new, but pre-thought strategy, and get going.
You know how this story ends. Iron Man wins. Every time. Iron Man always has a plan.
Simply reacting without a plan can be disastrous. Can you imagine what Iron Man’s suit would look like if he built a feature every time he thought of something new? It’s important that everything works together to reach the end goal. At the same time, you have to be able to stay nimble, shift direction or try new approaches when the situation calls for it. The right plan lets you do both.
You can’t anticipate everything from the beginning, but by approaching your organization’s marketing like Iron Man would, you might just win too.
Holly Rooks Grenvicz is The A Group’s senior strategist, working with clients to identify and create (and sometimes renovate) brand and marketing strategy. She uses a tested process to draw out purpose, identify goals, hone messages and align products and services with target markets to drive results. With her diverse experience, Holly has the knowledge base to use the entire marketing toolbox in the most relevant way for each situation.