3 ways to build a strategy that won’t work.

In my 10 years of running Willow & Blake, and after seven years of running the brand I co-founded, frank body, I’ve watched and learned from the most common strategic pitfalls. I’ve even made some of them myself.

Having worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, I now actively challenge my team and clients to ensure we never commit any of the following three sins.

Strategy no-no's

1. Believing you’re groundbreaking.

Yes and sorry. More than often, the product or service isn’t as disruptive as you think it is. This includes my own two companies. It doesn’t mean it’s not great, but it does mean that the client’s internal team or agency partner does have the responsibility to challenge unique propositions presented. You should always act as or appoint a devil’s advocate in the room. We don’t need a group of people stroking each others egos, we need people who are willing to challenge ideas to make them stronger and ultimately make the business or campaign in question a success. Good strategy comes from asking the hard questions, facing unflattering realties and being ok with it.

Knowledge is power, and all that jazz.


2. Building a strategy on fluff.

Human centered. Inclusive. Bold. Words I hear every day that have all but lost their meaning. These qualities are not unique. These are simply fundamental elements of doing business. If you’re selling goods or services to people, you are by your very nature, human centered. If you do not have an exclusionary policy that prohibits people from using your products, you are inclusive. And the most common of all: bold. Why bold? What data tells you that you need to be bold? What does it mean to be bold? We don’t know and we never will. How’s that for bold?

These words are not strategy. 

Strategy is defining the problems that your new or existing business will face in its development or evolution, building hypotheses about these problems and then creating a series of action points to tackle it. 


3. Creating a strategy with no actionable items.

If I read a strategy and I don’t know what to do next, it’s not a strategy. It’s probably a very lovely curation of some nice words and pictures. To call this a strategy would be to call arranging a cheese platter cooking. 

A good strategy will allow the creative/marketing team to go on and do things, with clear parameters and outcomes in mind. It will have concluded from its hypothesis what the next steps are to be taken, and it will call for validation of these steps at some point or another.

If you’re looking to fail, follow these three steps.

For those ambitious founders looking to build a startup that sky-rockets, for those existing companies with talented internal teams looking to scale or pivot, for those legacy companies with new challenges; we are here to help.