I lied. Strategy can be complex and frankly, overwhelming. What’s even harder is being strategic in order to benefit a business you own that you are passionate about. There’s a big difference between doing something you love, and building a business around something you love. This post addresses the latter scenario – which is why you’re probably reading this.
My role as a consultant is to guide and advise you through the process. My job is to ask you the tough questions, and to help you develop a different perspective to your business through the lens of the consumer (your client).
A strategy is a deliberate plan for success that mitigates risks and informs roadmaps to get you to where you want to go.Me. I said this just now. (Elena Parial)
So, you have somewhere to go. You got dressed, made it to your car, popped open your GPS app of choice, and punched in the address. You see a few options – you can either get there in 2 hours or in 30 minutes. The app assumes you want the 30-minute route, and frankly, they’re not wrong. Never will you break the mould and take the scenic route.
You have places to be and people to see, and this route-planning miracle of an app is telling you the best route to take. So why is it that in business, we are more likely to drive off and figure it out along the way? Why do we have an aversion to reaching out to experts for help, layout out our options and selecting the best solution for the business so we don’t end up on the 2 hour route? Or even worse, the 6 hour route…
One of the answers I’ve come up with is that tackling planning for business is not free. You can do it yourself, of course. But it will cost you time or money. The value of time or money really depends on where you are in your journey.
Another answer I’ve come up with is that planning and strategy building are complex. It’s a process riddled with tough questions that are very difficult to answer if you don’t know what your end-goal looks like. This is why I can populate this post with pre-existing worksheets to help you, but I didn’t. I’d rather show you what the end-game looks like and explain its significance. You can then judge what the value of it is for yourself.
In writing this post, I have to stress that having top-level business planning conversations are not only for large enterprises. Entrepreneurs are typically focused on getting things done, figuring out the cash flow and keep an eye out for opportunities – but you need to make sure that all of that is in alignment with your goals. This is where strategy comes in, and the conversations required in order to build a profitable & sustainable framework can not be neglected. In fact, they’re essential conversations to have for businesses to thrive. This is what drives the passion behind Why Marketing – creating sustainable frameworks that are not dependent on constant intervention.
Through this series, I challenge you to plan deliberately with me.
In honour of Game Plan Fridays, I give you the different levels of planning (or strategies) when it comes to marketing, and why each level is critical to the success of your marketing programs. As it happens with every pyramid, if your base isn’t solid, it all falls apart. If you’re just setting up your business, or looking to approach marketing from a more intentional place, take what you need from this series.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll take a deep dive into each level by sharing with you associated risks, common red flags and details on what you need to figure out in order to level up. Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll find in each level:
You set your long-term business goals and a growth plan. This is where you forecast your revenues over 3-5 years, develop business-level goals and assign annual budgets.
Level 2 – Annual & Seasonal Marketing Plans
Every year, you look at the seasonality of your business or major milestones. The plan will focus on key milestones during the year, develop goals for leveraging the milestones and assign budgets to each of the annual or ongoing activities for the year.
The goals developed in Level 2 directly feed into the goals from Level 1. This alignment needs to be measurable and well-defined to show how your activities contribute to the overall success and profitability of the business.
Level 3 – Marketing Programs & Campaigns
Each one of the activities defined in Level 2 needs an execution plan or critical path. These are best done in an integrated fashion, and then breaking them down into individual tasks. You identify your budget and your goal(s), and you develop key tactics, employ the most efficient tools and create the customer experience for each activity. All programs and campaigns need to have a set of metrics that together, define the picture of success looks like. These vary depending on the channels and tactics used.
Never plan a campaign without a budget to start. You will either end up overspending or not aligning to your goals (therefore, being inefficient in your marketing spend).
Level 4 – Marketing Assessments
Review the success metrics from all of your campaigns and assess their alignment with the goals you set out to achieve. Look at what went well, what didn’t go well, and where the opportunities for improvement lie.
Once all activities are assessed, go back to your Level 1, 2, and 3 goals. Did you achieve what you set out to do? Do the budgets need to be adjusted? Start back at Level 1… and level up as you finalize goals and budgets.
As always, if you have questions or get stuck at any point, I’m here to help make planning and tracking your marketing an easy process.