2015 marked the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland, the most popular publication for children and the most translated English-written book in the world according to The Wall Street Journal. Aside from developing his amazing skill in the form of literary nonsense, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (his real name) was a writer of political essays and pamphlets, a poet and a prolific photographer. His works underlined an impressive understanding of strategy and positioning in politics. I have long wondered if his pinnacle writing reflects much of what went through his mind in a fantastic storytelling fashion. In fact, the Cheshire Cat has become a celebrated character over the last fifteen decades and a point of reference in cross-disciplinary studies from literature to psychology and physics to business.
With regards to business and communications strategy, I could not stress the importance of Carroll’s novel more. For example, Alice arrives at a crossroads and asks the Cheshire Cat for advice as to which road she should take. The cat then asks, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice then admits that she does not care where she goes and the cat states, “Then it does not matter which way you go.” From my experience, I would say I see this dialogue often occur on a daily basis.
As a consultant in communications marketing strategy with Edelman Position in Colombia, it seems that in every meeting, in every call and in everyday discussions someone asks, “Should I begin with advertising?” or “Should I implement a Facebook or Twitter campaign?” Some believe it does not matter, however, it should matter. If goals and clear objectives were defined, targeting and strategy come first. A tactical discussion without strategy is endless, and a strategy without well-defined tactics is worthless.
The complexities and impact of social media have exacerbated the occurrence within companies that do not know where to go. The various paths, the channels and the alternatives have empowered people to share their voice, which has left many companies and brands without a clear objective or strategy about how they should respond to or approach the risks and opportunities.
So, the first thing to consider when designing a multifaceted communications strategy is to remember Alice and systematically define your objectives, strategies and key performance indicators (KPIs). Your ultimate goal is premiere and the tactical plan should then flow. The next time someone asks whether a YouTube activation or a free press development is better suited for a specific issue, the answer might as well be, “It depends on your objective because I have seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.”
Mauricio Ferro, general manager, Edelman Position in Colombia.