[Note: I’m proud to welcome Bill Brelsford as a guest author here. This post was originally posted on Bill’s Blog and is re-posted here with his permission. — Tim]

Over the weekend, I read an interesting post on the CRM & Tech for the Small Business Blog titled – Top 3 Reasons Why Changing CRM Software Won’t Help. The post describes three common scenarios where small business owners decide to try to solve a particular problem by purchasing a new CRM (customer relationship management) system.

The post provides several counter arguments to the “excuses” typically raised in these scenarios. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the arguments raised in this post, it did remind me of a common theme that is often the root cause of these frustrations – putting tactics before strategy.

Of course, we usually don’t see the lack of strategy as the problem. We see the symptoms, the biggest being frustration from having spent a lot of money and not seeing any significant returns.

This practice of selecting a tool and then trying to “back into” a strategy is one that I have seen and have been arguing against since my early days (those dark days before the internet) of automating business systems. I still believe that we need to create a business system before we try to automate it.

In the case of CRM, that means having a sales andor marketing processes defined before trying to select a tool to automate it. If you purchase a technology with the idea that it will “give you a process”, you are in for a frustrating journey. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but if it does work, it will take longer and be more expensive than needed.

Many businesses have learned the hard way, that there is a big difference between conducting a free webinar and conducting a webinar based marketing campaign which includes planning, promoting, presenting, and following up.

The same thing happens with web sites, blogs, social media tools, email marketing, and webinar services. Often we are told we must be doing these things, so we make the purchase before knowing how it fits into our strategy. Then we either try to make-it-fit later or just let the project die.

“Strategy before tactics” may be one of those phrases that seems cliché, but it can save you a lot of money and frustration if you put it into practice.

AvatarBill Brelsford

Bill Brelsford is a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant who specializes in creating and implementing marketing strategies for professional service firms. You can follow Bill on Twitter.