What’s the first step in creating a great ad campaign? Defining your core strategy. What is a core strategy in marketing? Your core business strategy is the one big idea that will be the golden thread that connects all your messaging and creativity. It’s what will make your campaign unique, engaging, and effective.

There are a few different ways to approach defining your core strategy. The Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency has a great framework called OGSM. This stands for Objective, Goals, Strategies, and Methods.

An OGSM example for an HVAC company, for example, would be:


  • To establish our brand as a household name in the next 12 months.


  • Increase topline revenue 100% in 12 months.
  • Double number of branded trucks on the road in 12 months.
  • Increase net EBITDA to 15% in 12 months with strategic price increases and targeting relational buyers using new branded strategies.


  • Develop a powerful story that can be diced up strategically into all the different marketing channels.
  • Align all marketing channels to deliver our single unified message, from branding to lead generation.
  • Increase marketing budget to 10 percent of topline revenue to get our story out to as many people as we can afford to reach.


  • Increase marketing budget to 10 percent of topline revenue to get our story out to as many people as we can afford to reach.
  • Measure total lead volume from all sources coming inbound.
  • Measure direct and organic search results monthly.

Another popular framework is AIDA: Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. No matter what method you use to find your core strategy definition, the important thing is that you have one. A clear and concise core strategy will be the foundation for all your marketing initiatives. It will also help you stay focused on your ultimate goal.

Now you know what a core marketing strategy is and why it’s vital, it’s time to start developing your own. Keep reading for some tips on how to do just that.

The Core

When you think of the core of something, what do you see? The center of the Earth? The heart of a black hole? For us, the core contains the essentials. It’s the most basic constituent parts of a thing. And when we talk about strategy, the core is just as important. Your company’s core strategy is the foundation for everything else you do – it’s the cornerstone for your marketing mix, product development roadmap, and go-to-market plan. It answers the question: what are we trying to achieve?

Yet, despite its importance, companies often skip this crucial step instead of jumping right into tactics. They develop ad campaigns or new product features without taking the time to define their overall objectives. As a result, they end up with many disconnected initiatives that don’t add to a cohesive whole.

A successful company starts with a clear understanding of its core strategy. From there, everything else falls into place. Think of it this way: What would be left if you were to take away everything from a company except for one thing? That one thing is the company’s core strategy. It’s what makes successful companies successful.

To create a great ad campaign, you must start with a great core strategy. But what exactly is involved in the process of a core strategy? Let’s take a look.


The agility to change your plans is the first step in creating a solid strategy. If you don’t have a plan that can adapt and be strong, then your business won’t have any roadmap to follow for growth. Did you know that only 23 percent of companies have a formal core planning strategies process?

Companies must be proactive about their future and develop core business strategies that work from the top down. They also need to consider every level of an organization, data, and the company’s overall vision. Companies also need to regularly assess their strategic governance plan to make sure it is still applicable and helpful in today’s cutthroat marketplace.


By studying Apple, it is helpful to assess how well other companies execute what is the core of strategic management. For example, when Apple faltered in the late 1990s, it focused on creating a stronger marketing strategy. After carefully examining their management team, they decided to streamline and stop using old strategies and products.

What happened? Apple quickly regained success. They are a prime example of how being able to pivot lets a company create superior strategies that make things easier for everyone involved. At the same time, they offer the needed clarity and insights.

A successful plan should link managers to employees and departments to each other while allowing for the free flow of information. Organizations use a simple, easy-to-understand strategy that allows communication across all channels. This enables them to stay agile and concentrate on execution rather than strategy implementation.


The link between implementation and vision is clear. Assisting in defining end objectives means businesses should develop a comprehensive vision statement to help guide planning for implementation. Although end goals are essential, they should also expect flexibility throughout the journey.

A dependable business strategy shouldn’t simply rely on metrics like KPIs to make choices. It should have a comprehensive, continuously-evolving methodology. One that uses KPIs along with other factors such as competitor observation, internal professional expertise, and an updated company disciplines. With the proper agile strategic implementation, any business can flourish.

Staying ahead of the curve means companies must be able to adapt their strategies as needed. That means being agile and ready to change course as necessary to achieve the desired outcome.

How Do You Refine Your Core Strategy?

“It’s hard to tell a powerful story badly. But it’s easy to tell a weak story well. I’ve never seen a business fail because they were ‘reaching the wrong people.’ But I’ve seen thousands fail because they were saying the wrong thing.”

— Roy H. Williams, The Wizard of Ads™

Most businesses fail not because they’re reaching the wrong people but because they’re saying the wrong thing. Create a compelling message that resonates with your target audience by understanding your ideal customer and their needs clearly. Once you know this, you can begin to craft a message that speaks directly to them and addresses their specific pain points. That is the first step in refining your core strategy.

The next step is to make sure that your execution is flawless. Remember, having a great message is not enough. You must also ensure your other marketing, sales, and internal channels align with your overall strategy. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting time and money on tactics that don’t work. For example, if your employees don’t deliver on the promises made in your advertising, you will quickly get a bad reputation for inconsistency.

If you can do these two things, you’ll be well on creating a successful marketing strategy to help you grow your business.

Brilliant Execution of a Flawed Strategy vs. Flawed Execution of a Brilliant Strategy

There’s an essential distinction between a flawed strategy executed flawlessly and a brilliant strategy executed poorly. The former will consistently outperform the latter. That’s because a flawless execution can make up for many deficiencies in the underlying strategy.

But no amount of execution can save a flawed strategy. That is why getting your marketing strategy right from the start is critical. Once you’ve settled on a direction, you must ensure you have the resources and expertise to execute it flawlessly. Otherwise, you’ll never reach your full potential.

At the Brink of Disaster?

Is your business on the brink of disaster? Business owners wander near the brink when they:

  • Fail to have an effective core strategy.
  • Dismiss their competitors like they don’t matter.
  • Believe that “reaching the right people on PPC, SEO, and social media” is the secret to success.
  • Worry about “increasing leads” more than delivering an excellent customer experience.

Business owners who assume that every successful business deserves to be successful amaze me. It’s only a matter of time before a company with weak rivals succeeds, no matter how terrible their advertising or how frequently they let their clients down.

The real challenge for business owners is when times get tough.

Have You Taken a Hard Look at Your Core Strategy Lately?

If your answer is “no,” it’s time to start. If you’re unsure where to start with your core strategy, let us help. Your core strategy is the foundational engine that drives your business. It differentiates you from your competitors and gives you a sustainable competitive advantage.

When I work with clients, we spend a lot of time on their core strategy, asking questions like:

  • What do you believe in? What do you stand for? What do you stand against?
  • What are your customers actually buying? Why should they care about you over your competition?
  • What are you doing to demonstrate trust before they get to PPC and see you amongst all the others?
  • What are you really good at? What do you suck at?

Once we have answers to these questions (and many more), everything else will fall into place. The right products and services become apparent, and the ideal target market becomes clear. The most effective marketing strategies reveal themselves.

Are you unhappy with your current results? It’s probably because your core strategy is out of alignment. I love helping businesses find their sweet spot! If you’re unsure where to start, book a call with me, Ryan Chute of Wizard of Ads®.