One reason that many businesses fail, is that they have no strategic plan.
They are always chasing a sale, or marketing/advertising just to be marketing or advertising with no real purpose. Yes, we get it. You want more sales, but your marketing and advertising is not strategic towards the goals of your business. It has no real purpose; it does not have any strategy that is in alignment with the goals of your business. That is one of the many reasons you are not getting an ROI on your marketing/advertising investment.
Strategic management is a widely studied field because it is through strategy that organizations attempt to reach their goals and out-think the competition. Thinking strategically requires research, analysis, and forethought in order to create a plan for how you will proceed as an organization. Most small business owners do not take time out of their schedule for strategic planning. They have no strategic “game plan.”
The process of crafting and implementing an organizational “game plan” for:
- Creating customer value
- Sustaining competitive advantages
- Achieving performance targets
Look at your business and ask yourself, your team, division, department and then as your organization as a whole:
- Are we doing things, right?
- Are we doing the right things?
Next, you need to create a plan for how you will make choices in the future that align with your strategic plan. You must be willing to identify and make changes to the way you currently think and operate so that you are truly guided by the strategic plan you adopted for your business.
Here are six P’s of thinking strategically:
Purpose: Decision as a collective group. Without purpose or a mission, you don’t know what you’re working towards. This is the goal of what you want to achieve. What you want your business to be in the future. A strategic plan is a guide for when you cannot remember what you are working towards. When changes happen fast, it may not be easy to keep up with them and it’s very easy to get sidetracked from your goal. This is when you need that roadmap to keep you on track with your actions and activities.
Plan: Actions that you have consciously intended. You need to develop a solid, specific action plan to achieve your goals. Each goal you set requires some form of strategy to reach it. Each goal should, in turn, be somehow forwarding the goals of the strategic plan. If you and your employees have a goal with specific actions to reach the goal, it will improve work performance overall and move the business forward. I.E. If the goal is to “improve customer service” that is not specific. What you think that might be, may not be the way your staff thinks it should be. But, if the goal is clear, “reduce customer complaints by 50% over a five-month period” that is specific, measurable, realistic and timebound.
Ploy: What you will do to out-do the competition. You need to be familiar with your competition. You need to identify how you compare to them in the areas that are important to your customers. Part of your plan is to strengthen your weaknesses, highlight your strengths, pursue customer where your strengths are the most important decision criteria.
Pattern: Establishing success as a constant action over time. One useful method is to incorporate items into individual performance goals that you have for you and your team. I.E. Review existing performance goals and measure to determine whether or not they are in alignment with the overall strategic plan of the organization. In one business, we tied performance goals to the total output of the business. The employees got a bonus to the business achieved those goals, but their own personal goals where tied to that success.
Positioning: Creating and holding a marketplace presence. Despite your enthusiasm for all that your product or service and do for a customer, the fact is that there is only a certain portion of the population that will every purchase your product or service. This is because not everyone can benefit from your product offering. You need to know who your customers are, and what they are most likely to perceive as a benefit from your product or service. Then concentrate your time, effort and money on marketing to those people.
Push: Goals that stretch the organization-push them outside the boundaries of your existing comfort zone. Whether or not you manage a team, you need to take on the challenge of pushing it to the next level of achievement. Start with an assessment on you and your team to determine where you are now as well as what is you and your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Then you can determine the appropriate action to develop yourself and your team to be high performing. Organization that sit back on their accomplishments get left in the dust by those businesses that are continually evolving. Ever heard of Blockbuster?
A strategic plan is like a game plan for you and your team to follow. Your team wants to know they have a leader that knows where the team is headed. The plan gives you something that your team can rally around and get excited about. It helps them feel connected to the mission of the organization and to feel that they can make a contribution helping the organization to reach the desired outcome.
What are your businesses strategic plans?