Today’s guest contributor is Stuart Dornfeld – master marketing copywriter. He left a comment on an article and after seeing his website – I asked for him to share his expertise with us.

As a freelance marketing strategist, copywriter and creative director, I meet with companies every month who are looking for ways to improve their business with better marketing and advertising. And invariably, the conversation moves quickly from traditional channels to how best to use online marketing, SEO and social media.But while webmasters use effective algorithms to build hard-working websites, and?social media mavens talk about new advances in mobile, all too often what’s overlooked is a sound marketing strategy as a foundation. Similarly, an equal number of interactive initiatives lack an effective brand promise, key messaging, skillful copywriting and little in the way of integration with the company’s offline communications.Fact is, there is no algorithm or social media plan ever written that can help a company develop a compelling brand promise or marketing strategy. For that, you need creative intelligence.

If you want to build a better website or interactive program start with a better strategy.

When I was hired by a local restaurant chain to find ways to improve their business, I didn’t look simply to building it with better algorithms or in CSS. I started by identifying the core customer and uncovering a key insight that was missing from the restaurant?s website, absent from their menus and store signage, and nowhere to be seen in their advertising. After some simple research and intuition, I realized that too many people were still viewing the restaurant as a breakfast bagel place. The marketing strategy became clear. By promoting the restaurant?s different day parts, customers would begin thinking of them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s what ultimately drove the creation of their new website, in-store signage and direct mail, and subsequently, what drove an 11% lift in same-store sales within 2-3 months of the launch.A better strategy. A better website. A better cross-channel integration.

Without a winning culture, your winning strategy can go just so far.

Ever wonder how Starbucks and Apple became so successful? Great strategy? Yes. Great marketing and advertising? Certainly. But the secret sauce was their culture. Their ?hand selected,? fabulously-trained, highly motived people delivering on a unique brand promise. That’s the advice I give to my clients. Before you embark on a new marketing strategy or advertising campaign,?make sure you have the corporate culture to embrace it!

For instance, years ago Office Depot embarked on a new strategy to make their store associates the heroes of their brand. With the slogan What you need. What you need to know,?the idea was that Office Depot?s stores not only had the products a small business owner or office manager needed to succeed, but the sales associates with the knowledge to help a customer find the right product and answer all their questions with a smile on their face. Unfortunately, the culture (execution) was not there to support the brand promise. Stores were understaffed, associates had poor moral, inconsistent training, little product knowledge, and low pay that often resulted in high turnover. What’s more, the strategy had little or no relevance when it came to Office Depot?s other retail channels such as phone ordering and e-commerce. So the strategy failed, the slogan was dropped, and the client returned to the ?Taking Care of Business? brand promise that the previous agency had developed. (You can read the entire Office Depot case history

Bottom line? It pays to develop a winning marketing strategy before you rework your website or invest in advertising. Unfortunately, I have met business owners who consider strategic planning a waste of time. I have met CEO?s who believe only they know their customer and no group of employees or consultants can provide new insights.

But then, I have met CEO/owners who embrace the notion that you must create and leverage every competitive advantage you possibly can in today’s challenging marketplace. Together, with a seasoned team of marketers and thinkers, we have leveraged the strategic planning process to help identify a competitive advantage and create a winning campaign. Perhaps 2011 is the year that you embark on new strategic direction for your company.

About the Author: STUART DORNFIELD?s Creativity Driven by Strategy? provides clients with everything from freelance copywriting and business consulting services to 360-degree marketing communication solutions across all traditional and non-traditional channels. Winner of over 300 awards for creative excellence, Stuart’s “Taking Care of Business” campaign for Office Depot is just one example of his brand building and sales-driving campaigns. Visit his website at