An all too common word we hear in meetings is strategy, but for us the shine has come off the moniker for a well-thought-out plan.

These days it’s one of those buzzwords people throw around like “out of the box thinking” and “paradigm shifts”, but when pressed to deliver, many quickly revert to doing what they’ve always done.

While anyone can come up with a strategy, “a careful plan for achieving a particular goal over a long period of time”, what we really need in our marketing efforts is smart thinking.

Take a recent Facebook advertising project we completed for example. A franchise of a national chain of gyms was holding a sign-up day and wanted to reach more people. We recommended using Facebook advertising as a channel along with their other marketing efforts.

A standard strategy would be to create a custom lookalike audience, geo target them within their franchise area and put a budget to it. An alternate strategy would be to define the audience (male/female, age etc.) and target interests such as fitness.

Sounds like either would work in achieving their goals, right? Perhaps. Targeting a similar audience might only reach people who already have a gym membership, so unless they’re unhappy with their current provider chances are you’re preaching to the already converted.

We looked at audiences outside their obvious fields of interests and targeted those who flagged things like restaurants, cuisine and travel – anything but fitness, and created a campaign based on the opposite of what they’d normally target.

The result? A line up outside the gym on sign up day.

Now we’re not saying our efforts through Facebook advertising was the only reason the client achieved huge success, but thinking a bit deeper and being smart about the approach certainly helped them achieve their goals.

So next time you’re presented with a strategy, ask what’s smart about it before pressing ahead with the execution.