Q&A: The Real Secrets of Marketing Strategy Success with Andy Slipher

Brands need to deliver value to their audience and stay true to their promise. Here's how to build a successful marketing strategy in today's landscape.



Define today’s marketing landscape.

Today’s marketing landscape is challenging, to say the least. There is the increasing power in the hands of customers; the quickening of expected turnaround and response cycles; the overwhelming number of media options and channels available to marketers; the deceptive idea that greater data availability automatically means better marketing and the increasing pressure on marketers to measure and produce a positive ROI. The common culprit is technology. Technology is what has driven all of the change in marketing in the last 100 years. We’re in an age, at present, where the technological change is dizzying. 

What is the biggest challenge marketers face?Whether they know it or not, the biggest challenge is knowing how they’re going to sustain a competitive edge and keep sales up. This may not be much different than with marketers in the past. But today’s marketer must now be able to pivot faster and manage an even greater number of executional options – i.e., media – than ever before. It’s one thing to determine a goal. It’s quite another to determine what path one needs to take to reach that goal. 

Do you think brands are too distracted today?

In general, yes. Brands are now getting into the business of managing brands versus delivering value. This is not inconsequential, but it pushes to the forefront priorities that should not be of primary focus. It’s as if the process and the practice of image and reputation management – via media – has begun to outweigh its original purpose. Along the same line is brands playing politics and cause ambassadorship - which is, at most, a mistake and, at minimum, another distraction.

What are the key marketing strategies every brand should employ?

I’m in the business of strategic planning, but I’m not in the practice of recommending blanket strategies. That’s the point of strategy – it defines a very particular way through for a specific problem or set of challenges. I want to be clear on that point. One recommendation I would have to any marketing team or brand manager is to get clear on your brand promise. Is it meaningful? Is it resonant? Does it have a person or persons in mind? These questions are all questions that should be asked and answered as part of any strategic marketing planning process.

What is the best advice you could offer marketers today?

My best advice for anyone trying to manage the marketing landscape today is three fold. No. 1 – Get clear on your marketing problems and challenges. Face them. If it’s a true problem, it’s never going to be easy. Get used to this idea. No. 2 – Commit to planning your marketing before you do anything with media. If you want to be more effective, stop pursuing media tactics first. No. 3 – Embrace a strategy for your marketing, and be ready to choose and make sacrifices. Choice is a key element in any good strategy, and it’s the thing many marketers find hardest to do – to not try and be all things to all customers.

What does the future of marketing look like?

Marketing will continue to be heavily influenced by breakthroughs in communication and technology. Brands will be less in control of their reputations than ever. Instead, it will fall much more to the court of public opinion. Consumers will continue to amass power, influence and the ability to determine - more immediately than ever -  the success or failure of brands. Finally, value delivery will continue to dominate. In the end, it will still be about the delivery of value to the buyer.


Andy SlipherAndy Slipher believes that the secret to success in marketing – or anything, really – is in the steps that you take.  Keep in step with your customers and one step ahead of your competitors and you’ll be able to strategically see the playing field spread out in front of you. That’s the approach he drills into his clients, which include the likes of Coca-Cola, Verizon Wireless, Procter & Gamble, Jimmy Dean Foods, Honda Motor Company, Travelers Insurance, and scores of others. The founder of Slipher Marketing says the process is all about removing distractions and then making pivotal choices. In the end, what matters are your customer, the challenge, and the potential to be compelled by an explicit promise. We sat down with the author of the forthcoming book, “The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success,” to get his take on what today’s consumers are really looking for.
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