Solutions vs. Strategies vs. Tools

How can you keep up with all those media sites? The answer in a flow chart

Not too long ago I was talking with a colleague who had just returned from an industry convention. I am not part of nor in any way related to this particular industry, but to put it politely, I would say that the majority of the members in this industry do not exactly fit into the “early adopter” category as it relates to technology and social media.

During the course of our conversation he mentioned something akin to the following, “I need to get the business on Facebook. All the vendors and all the speakers were talking about Facebook. The business will really grow once I get it on Facebook.

“What do you expect to happen once you get the business on Facebook?” I asked.

Silence……….”What do you mean?” he said.

I replied, “How do you plan on using Facebook to grow your business?”

More silence.

Presence is not a Solution

Solutions are the result of good strategies and good strategies require the proper application of the proper tools. Facebook is not a solution. Twitter is not a solution. YouTube is not a solution. Shiny new object is not a solution.

I imagine this type of thinking (i.e. platforms as solutions) happens quite a bit to people who don’t fully understand the landscape. A while ago I wrote a post titled: Should I be using Twitter? In it I wrote:

Asking whether or not you (or your company) should be using Twitter is like asking whether or not you should be using a hammer (a common tool). So, should you be using a hammer? Well, if you ask me I’d say that it depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to build a birdhouse; then YES. A hammer is a fine tool to accomplish that. However, if your goal is to…let’s say…brush your teeth; then NO. I would not recommend you use a hammer.

I love this analogy because it really drives home the idea of platforms as tools NOT platforms as solutions.

So how should you proceed?

Everything Begins with Goals

First, set your goals. No, excuse me, set your specific and quantifiable goals. (Hint: “grow the business” and “make more money” are not specific and quantifiable goals.) Once you have goals then you start to draw up a plan or strategy to achieve those goals. Questions in strategy design include, ‘How are we going to accomplish this?’ and ‘What tools should we use to do that?’ If certain tools help you execute your strategy then you should use them.

Let’s go back to my friend in the earlier example. Like many, he learned of some folks enjoying varying degrees of success with social media and was eager to get in, to get noticed and to get the phone to ring with new business. The problem with this approach is that it’s not a plan. It’s not a strategy. There was no end-goal in mind. And just ‘being there’ will not make the phone ring.

I said it before but I think it bears repeating: Solutions are the result of good strategies and good strategies require the proper application of the proper tools.

What about you? Are your solutions lacking strategies? Do you see platforms as tools or platforms as solutions?

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