I apologize in advance for the war analogy, but war tends to purify strategy. After all, when businesses fail to do strategy, the CEO fires the scapegoat and often hires another scapegoat. In war, people die.
What it looks like when your marketing manager doesn’t understand strategy (isn’t effectively mapping the battlefield):
She makes the same, big mistake more than once, for the exact same reason. This usually means she’s not good at theory (she doesn’t know why something failed or succeeded). Being bad at theory means you can’t re-engineer success without straight-up copying it. Because you can’t build what you don’t understand.
She makes big, unnecessary mistakes, like targeting the wrong audience. This shows a lack of curiosity about what makes this marketing problem different from the last.
The troops start getting blamed. This is usually a leadership problem, not always a strategy problem. It could mean she’s just not respecting her people, and the culture is suffering. Also, if her strategy isn’t clear, it would be tough to lead her creative team, since she (not the strategy) is the source of all guidance (can you say “micromanagement”?)
She’s constantly confounded by the audience and the competition. This means she doesn’t know how to take these factors into consideration when creating strategy. The thing is, together with mapping the battlefield, understanding your enemy is almost all of the inputs you need to do strategy. If you don’t have this info, you’re fighting blind. And fighting blind could waste all of the resources.
Now that we’ve covered this, we should realize that a marketing manager is often a scapegoat for poor leadership from above. So, as a true strategist would do, make sure you understand your problem before firing your marketing manager.