Thanksgiving is now behind us and Christmas is coming quick. It’s my favorite time of the year because of this, but it also means a new year is just over a month away. How are you preparing for your company’s future?
With 2018 close to coming to an end, many companies are planning for the future. The process of strategic planning is used regularly, and often annually, by forward thinking and successful businesses. The value of strategic planning is clear. It provides an opportunity for key staff to map out the coming year to hone in on the highest value growth opportunities, critical staffing decisions and identity the company’s core focus. Here’s a description of the strategic planning process and its value:
“Strategic planning is designed to provide an organization, its divisions, departments or even individual players with a game plan or road map to achieve specific goals and objectives. Strategic planning identifies internal and external effects and opportunities to consider in the creation of strategies and tactics. From a marketing standpoint, strategic planning might help to identify new market opportunities as well as new competitive threats.” – Chron.com
When done right strategic planning is incredibly beneficial to the company and staff at all levels. It provides clear expectations and structure to the work that needs to be done. This is done through a step-by-step process designed to provide clarity.
“A number of steps are involved in any strategic planning process, including a strategic marketing planning process. These include identifying the overall planning goal, selecting team participants, gathering data related to the internal and external environment, conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, developing specific objectives, creating strategies and tactics, and designing a measurement and reporting process. In many organizations, the overall strategic plan provides direction for the creation of sub-plans, including a strategic marketing plan.” – Chron.com
The last part of that passage is critical. Good strategic planning includes marketing. It only makes sense. How can you achieve your goals and growth objectives without also planning the marketing for next year? Pull in your marketing team so they can guide the discussion on strategies for marketing so that your business can reach its goals. This should result in a strategic marketing plan for 2019 which drives budgeting the resources needed to execute. Then you will know how to allocate your team, bring in outside experts and measure your effectiveness.
Here are three key outcomes of your strategic planning that should impact 2019 marketing:
1. Brand Checkup – Successful companies established their brand attributes early on in their existence. But, the market is ever-changing and really so are companies. New products or services, entering different markets, mergers and acquisitions and internal culture evolution can all create situations where the brand itself needs fine tuning. Use part of your strategic planning time to revisit your brand attributes and make sure they align with your company and your market.
2. Initiative Strategies – Most likely your strategic planning process will result in the identification of key initiatives for 2019. Take the time to go a step further and flesh out the marketing strategy for each. Determining how you position your company/product/service and penetrate the market will drive marketing strategy development. This gives your team a big picture direction to get tactical execution going sooner than later.
3. What Numbers Matter? – Everyone focuses on top line revenue and bottom line profit, as they should. On the marketing side though, in order to know what is working and what is not you have to know what numbers matter. Have you determined lifetime customer value, what acquisition cost is acceptable, number of new customers you need and whether leads, website traffic or social media engagement matter most? Knowing the numbers you need to track in your marketing provides clarity on success.
Need help with strategic planning for your company? We can refer you to a consultant to guide you through it. No matter what, though, don’t forget to make marketing part of the process.