TikTok and Mobility Scooters: A Lesson in Strategy vs Tactics.

Picture this.

It’s 2021. You work in marketing and you’re tasked with helping reverse your brands’ shrinking profits that have plagued the company over the past couple of years. Nothing has worked in the past and you feel defeated, unmotivated, and out of options. You come across an article like this one from a publication you consider reputable, and one that you believe you can trust. 

“49% of TikTok users said they have purchased a product or service from a brand after seeing it advertised, promoted, or reviewed on the platform.”

“Unbelievable!” you think to yourself. “How have I not seen this before?”

Knowing that you’re sitting on a gold mine, you go ahead and allocate all of your current advertising budget into TikTok advertising and await the influx of cash that is sure to come. You spend the next couple of hours thinking about what job title you want after your inevitable promotion that comes from saving a failing business. 

One day goes by. Then another. Soon, a few months go by. No noticeable changes to your business’s bottom line can be seen. 

“But check out our engagement rate. It must just need a bit more time,” you tell yourself, and those higher up who probably don’t have the faintest idea about who, or what an engagement rate is. (By the way, if you are reporting on engagement rates, stop. And read this instead.)

And so time goes on. Nothing changes, and your business is no more successful this year than the last. The vicious cycle continues. You’re back to square one, with even more pressure from the powers above to sell more mobility scooters – to consumers who have never heard about TikTok in their 68 years* (on average) on this earth so far.

While the above scenario is obviously exaggerated, it offers insight into the current state of marketing within many businesses. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is often quoted to draw connections between battles and the business world. Perhaps the one that stands out the most from a marketing perspective is the following; 
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

If you’re using tactics like the ones above, with no strategy, there’s a good chance that you won’t even arrive at the right battle.

As much as the article linked above would love you to believe, the words “TikTok” and “strategy” do not go together. Or any other channel of distribution, for that matter. Strategy is media neutral, and any good research-led one shouldn’t have you guessing which tactics to use.

Diagnosis before strategy, strategy before tactics. Always. And hey, you might even discover that TikTok users do, in fact, use mobility scooters. But you will be led by research, not a poorly positioned article.

– Nic Katsonis – LinkedIn

*This article from The Age lists the average age of injured patients from mobility scooters as 68. Yeah, I know that’s not the same thing as the average age of all users, but if AdWeek doesn’t have to properly reference their research and data to manipulate their findings, neither do I right?