Good strategy inspired by Matt Holt

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A couple of tweets on good strategy by Matt Holt inspired this post. Strategy and planning are considered to be disrupted by changes in the advertising industry. It often boils down to ‘ who needs strategy when you have big data / machine learning’.

Big data; isn’t good strategy. Instead it tells you retrospectively where you should have zigged rather than zagged. It doesn’t plot an overall direction.  It is usually pretty reductive only focusing on sales now. It doesn’t think about future sales through building a brand and its good standing.

In marketing automation, it is focused on ‘harvesting’ from the end of the marketing funnel.


    • It is sacrifice. It’s about making choices and saying no
    • It is specific. There is a specific well-defined problem to be solved. 
    • It is simple to explain (even if the subject matter is complex). If you’re setting a direction, the roadmap has to be clear for all stakeholders.
    • it has elegance. Which is a good measure of its simplicity.
    • It steers tactics. It provides a directional lens to the data and helps in deciding KPIs (key performance indicators) and HVAs (high value actions).
    • Good strategy is stubborn in the face of the shiny and new. Strategy is not a fad is a long term roadmap. The shiny and new can be a facilitator at best. At worst its a distraction. 
    • It is saying no to excess. Keep the strategy focused on the objectives that it addresses
    • Good strategy seems self evident in retrospect. It’s not just a way to solve the problem, but has been sweated out to optimise it to the point that it seems self evident in retrospect.
    • It is emergent, but not realtime. A strategy needs to be able to flex as conditions change. Its the direction, not an exhaustive road map.
  • It is not ‘big data’. Big data can be a source of insights that will help develop a strategy, but it’s not a strategy in of itself. For example the inspiration for Compare the Market’s meerkat campaign was misspellings in search data for the word market

More ideas related posts here.


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