Budgets are tight in 2004. All marketers are being asked to do more with less. And, let's face it, the business climate is so dynamic that more likely than not your 2004 plans (and budgets) are constantly adjusted in real time.

However, in the rush to jumpstart revenues and execute on the marketing plan before those precious dollars evaporate, too many marketers are losing touch with their marketing strategy.

Strategy, it seems, is fine for beginning-of-the-year exercises, but it's often shuttered in a dark closet until budget exercises for 2005.

The rest of 2004 shouldn't just be about marketing tactics. Instead, your marketing strategy should adjust with the daily/weekly changes in the business environment. With these things said, let's pause for a minute, take a step back and revisit a word that should be on everyone's mind for the rest of 2004— “focus.”

Michael Porter, Harvard business professor and master strategist, has outlined three generic strategies to achieve competitive advantage: focus, differentiation and cost leadership.

In many of his seminal works, he argues that a good strategy depends on obtaining leadership in two or more of these strategies; however, for sake of argument, let's focus on focus and its application to marketing through three best practice examples.

In and Out Burger is a fast-food chain in the Western United States. Those who have had the privilege of eating at In and Out Burger should consider themselves fortunate—it offers possibly the best hamburger available.

What you might find interesting about In and Out Burger, however, is that it has had the same menu for more than an decade. In these days of McPizza and Jack in the Box offering fancy sandwiches in an attempt to differentiate their offerings, In and Out Burger offers what they always have: burgers, fries and sodas. No chicken, no salads, no low-carb meals, no biggie sizes.

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Paul A. Barsch directs the professional services marketing programs for one of the top 10 software companies in the United States and blogs about the intersection and impact of technology and marketing (www.paulbarsch.com). He can be contacted at paulbarsch(at)yahoo(dotcom).