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What Is a Marketing Strategy?
- How It Works
- Strategies vs. Plans
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Strategy FAQs
- Marketing Essentials
Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, How To Create One
Investopedia / Daniel Fishel
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition , key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
A thorough marketing strategy covers the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
- A marketing strategy is a business’s game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.
- Marketing strategies should revolve around a company’s value proposition.
- The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies.
Understanding Marketing Strategies
A clear marketing strategy should revolve around the company’s value proposition, which communicates to consumers what the company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves their business.
This provides marketing teams with a template that should inform their initiatives across all of the company’s products and services. For example, Walmart ( WMT ) is widely known as a discount retailer with “everyday low prices,” whose business operations and marketing efforts are rooted in that idea.
Marketing Strategies vs. Marketing Plans
The marketing strategy is outlined in the marketing plan —a document that details the specific types of marketing activities that a company conducts and contains timetables for rolling out various marketing initiatives.
Marketing strategies should ideally have longer life spans than individual marketing plans because they contain value propositions and other key elements of a company’s brand, which generally hold constant over the long haul. In other words, marketing strategies cover big-picture messaging, while marketing plans delineate the logistical details of specific campaigns.
For example, a marketing strategy might say that a company aims to increase authority in niche circles where their clients visit. The marketing plan puts that in action by commissioning thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn.
Benefits of a Marketing Strategy
The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies by understanding the needs and wants of its consumers. Whether it’s a print ad design, mass customization , or a social media campaign, a marketing asset can be judged based on how effectively it communicates a company’s core value proposition.
Market research can help chart the efficacy of a given campaign and can help identify untapped audiences to achieve bottom-line goals and increase sales.
Creating a marketing strategy requires a few steps. HubSpot, a digital marketing resource, offers insight into how to create your strategy.
- Identify your goals: While sales are the ultimate goal for every company, you should have more short-term goals such as establishing authority, increasing customer engagement, or generating leads. These smaller goals offer measurable benchmarks for the progress of your marketing plan. Think of strategy as the high-level ideology and planning as how you accomplish your goals.
- Know your clients: Every product or service has an ideal customer, and you should know who they are and where they hang out. If you sell power tools, you’ll choose marketing channels where general contractors may see your messaging. Establish who your client is and how your product will improve their lives.
- Create your message: Now that you know your goals and who you’re pitching to, it’s time to create your messaging. This is your opportunity to show your potential clients how your product or service will benefit them and why you’re the only company that can provide it.
- Define your budget: How you disperse your messaging may depend on how much you can afford. Will you be purchasing advertising? Hoping for a viral moment on social media organically? Sending out press releases to the media to try to gain coverage? Your budget will dictate what you can afford to do.
- Determine your channels: Even the best message needs the appropriate venue. Some companies may find more value in creating blog posts for their website. Others may find success with paid ads on social media channels. Find the most appropriate venue for your content.
- Measure your success: To target your marketing, you need to know whether it is reaching its audience. Determine your metrics and how you’ll judge the success of your marketing efforts.
Why does my company need a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy helps a company direct its advertising dollars to where it will have the most impact. Compared with the data from 2018, the correlation between organization and success in marketers jumped from being almost four times more likely to almost seven times more likely in 2022.
What do the four Ps mean in a marketing strategy?
The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place. These are the key factors that are involved in the marketing of a good or service. The four Ps can be used when planning a new business venture, evaluating an existing offer, or trying to optimize sales with a target audience. It also can be used to test a current marketing strategy on a new audience.
What does a marketing strategy look like?
A marketing strategy will detail the advertising, outreach, and public relations campaigns to be carried out by a firm, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. They will typically follow the four Ps. The functions and components of a marketing plan include market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries, tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas, and platform selection for product and service promotion—digital, radio, internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign, and metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines.
Is a marketing strategy the same as a marketing plan?
The terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.
Walmart Corporate. “ About .”
HubSpot Blog. “ 7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2022 .”
i7 Marketing. “ 6 Steps to Develop a Winning Marketing Campaign .”
CoSchedule. “ Trend Report: Marketing Strategy 2022 .”
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Strategic Marketing: Definition, Importance And Process
The channels and practices undertaken to ensure maximum sales while satisfying consumers sum up marketing as a concept. Marketing is…
The channels and practices undertaken to ensure maximum sales while satisfying consumers sum up marketing as a concept. Marketing is an essential aspect of doing business—in fact, it’s often called the backbone of business. Removing marketing from the equation automatically eliminates trade, and without trade, there’s no business.
Given that every consumer has a different set of needs and preferences, it’s important to research, identify and study the type of consumers who have better chances of reacting favorably to a product. This exercise allows for building a marketing strategy unique to that product. This is strategic marketing .
What Is Strategic Marketing?
Strategic marketing objectives , process of strategic marketing, difference between strategic marketing and marketing strategy, important pointers for strategic marketing, importance of strategic marketing.
A growing number of organizations are now employing strategic marketing . It’s only natural, as strategic marketing presents them with the opportunity to outperform their competitors. Yet, there isn’t enough clarity as to what strategic marketing is.
Under strategic marketing , organizations evaluate their positives (both present and potential) over their competition through the lens of their targeted consumers’ perception of them. Building on this allows organizations to provide better service and value to their consumers while creating an image that differs from their competitors. Successful application of strategic marketing into the marketing plan first requires answering these three questions:
- Where to compete: Determining markets suitable for competition
- How to compete: Determining the core element of an organization’s competitive advantage
- When to compete: Determining when and how to enter each suitable market
Understanding these tasks through research and analysis helps fulfill the role of strategic marketing. The role of strategic marketing is defined as determining what a business needs to be and become to consistently beat competitors by consistently delivering better value. After answering the questions mentioned above, you can advance to the next stage—the strategic marketing planning stage.
The strategic marketing objectives are fundamentals that give meaning to what the process of strategic marketing is known for. The strategic marketing objectives are as follows:
- Drawing attention to what an organization is best known for
- Focused promotion for specific consumer groups
- All-around marketing using all available channels
With these objectives in mind, the process of strategic marketing can be executed with a more tactical edge.
Though each phase seems to perform differently, all are interdependent. This makes the strategic marketing approach a full-circle process. The findings and results of each phase in the strategic marketing process meet the goals set by the previous one until the objective in the planning phase is achieved. Let’s break down the process of strategic marketing into its separate phases:
Planning is the first phase of the strategic marketing process. This phase is the most important because it lays down the groundwork for the subsequent phases. Here, identification and assessment are key. Goals, merits and shortcomings are identified while assets and liabilities are assessed. It’s divided into three steps:
- SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat. Using a SWOT analysis brings out an organization’s strengths, uncovers its weaknesses, identifies possible opportunities and reveals threats that may hinder progress.
This analysis proves beneficial in identifying the direction in which an industry is moving, understanding prevailing trends and gaining an approximate assumption of how well an organization might perform against competitors. A proper SWOT analysis becomes a major factor in developing a strategic marketing proposal for an organization.
- Marketing Mix
A marketing mix is a popular business model organizations use to formulate and pursue their marketing activities. It comprises four key factors, namely: product, price, place and promotion. These are also known as the 4Ps of marketing.
Here, it’s the next step in the planning phase. A marketing mix will help meet objectives brought to light in the strategic marketing proposal based on the SWOT analysis conducted. It aims to strengthen the organization on selling and brand fronts by focusing on its 4Ps.
Product will focus on what commodity or service is being planned for launch by the organization. It’ll involve research into the various aspects of the product, from its packaging to features and after-sales service, and work on developments on responses from focus groups.
Price focuses on the price point planned for the sale of the product. Based on research, factors such as flexibility, discount and anticipated value are to be taken into account.
Place focuses on the most advantageous channels of distribution (online, offline or telemarketing), key advertising locations for assuring maximum exposure and transit and storage.
Promotion is the process of identifying and implementing how the product will be advertised and introduced into the market.
- Setting Goals
Establishing achievable and measurable goals for a product boosts teamwork and efficiency in having them met and, therefore, is one of the best ways to achieve success for the product.
This phase helps in presenting management with a clear vision of the product’s current standing and the organization’s image. It’s a critical phase that ensures smooth progression.
As the name implies, this phase is where the strategic marketing proposal and all the data generated from the planning phase are implemented. Based on the data collected, it places a product’s launch into the planned market at a carefully determined price.
This phase can be seen as a review of the entire process. Based on the statistical data gathered from the sales in the second phase, the figures are evaluated with a plan to see if they live up to expectations. If yes, then the strategic marketing process has been successfully implemented. If the result is dissatisfactory, the plan needs to be worked on again.
With evaluation, this process completes a cycle. Another cycle of strategic marketing begins right after, and it is built upon the results of the preceding cycle.
The difference between strategic marketing and marketing strategy will help shed light on what sets them apart, so as to better understand how to best make use of each of these processes:
- Strategic marketing is aimed to have a lasting impact over a long time frame (three years), while a marketing strategy is effective over a shorter time frame (one year)
- Strategic marketing is built with the idea to steer an organization in the right direction, while a marketing strategy focuses on branding and publicizing the organization
- The strategic marketing process is concerned with personnel at a corporate level, while the marketing strategy process is concerned with personnel at the product manager level
Strategic marketing, therefore, is very different from marketing strategy. While marketing strategy is formulated keeping the brand in focus, strategic marketing is a 360-degree approach to the organization’s entire marketing plan.
The following points must be kept in mind to ensure smooth execution of the strategic marketing process:
- A strategic marketing proposal must be built only after a thorough market analysis
- Avoid assumption of consumers’ needs and wants
- Product goal and plan objectives must be in accordance with consumer expectations
- SWOT analysis must be carefully cross-checked for any factual errors
- Budgeting issues due to fluctuating marketing activities can arise, so room for adjustments must be kept in mind
In addition to understanding the process, these pointers serve as helpful suggestions for better understanding and implementing the activities involved in strategic marketing.
Importance Of Strategic Marketing
The importance of strategic marketing can be seen in marketing plans. Plans built incorporating strategic marketing have proven integral to organizations when aiming for good reception on factors concerning product and brand name as well as retaining and gaining a growing consumer base and more. The ability of this process to refine organizational objectives sheds light on the importance of strategic marketing , Following are the ways that illustrate the importance of strategic marketing :
- By understanding where an organization stands in comparison to competitors and what trends prevail in the target market, strategic marketing smoothens the entry of an organization in a market. It ensures easy setting of its product’s sure-footing in the market.
- Data from strategic marketing plans give clarity on the current status of an organization’s resources. This helps in planning resource utilization better.
- Research and analysis conducted under strategic marketing provide important information on what updates are needed for a product to yield the highest profits with maximum customer satisfaction.
- Using strategic marketing, it becomes easy to identify and study groups that will have the most positive feedback on a product. This aids organizations by drawing their attention from a wide and varied spectrum of consumers to understanding a more narrowed down and suitable group of customers. Thus, organizations can work more efficiently on consumer engagement options.
- Strategic marketing maximizes sales targets by helping organizations determine and perform in areas they’re most suited to excel in.
Put simply, the strategic marketing process has an equal impact on the outward performances of an organization as much as it affects its interior functioning. This makes strategic marketing plans an important factor for the marketing schemes of organizations.
Understanding and using a strategic marketing process is an advisable and highly sought-after approach, but doing so effectively can prove to be a challenge. Harappa’s Create New Solutions pathway is designed with the tools to aid this pursuit so that eager business minds are conditioned to formulate the best strategic marketing plans for maximizing chances of success. Sign up today!
What Is Strategic Marketing?
Published: April 14, 2021
Marketing is the actions you take to attract an audience to your business. You aim to get people interested in what you have to offer and share content with them to help them decide to do business with you.
However, since marketing helps you attract people to your business, it’s essential to know how to attract them, and even more so who the people are that you want to attract to begin with. Without this critical information, it will be challenging to be successful in your marketing processes.
The way you can get this information is through strategic marketing. In this post, we’ll define strategic marketing and explain the different phases of the process that will help you effectively market your business, attract customers, and drive revenue.
What is the strategic marketing process?
The strategic marketing process involves conducting research and establishing goals and objectives that will maximize the effectiveness and success of your overall marketing strategy.
This process is beneficial as it helps you be more intentional with your marketing. You’ll be able to ensure that you’ve targeted the right audience, entered the right markets, and used the correct mediums.
You can think of it like this: strategic marketing is the butter you spread on toast. You can have plain toast as it is, but the butter enhances the flavor and makes it better. Strategic marketing ensures that your marketing campaigns are well-planned, effective, and shown to the right people.
Essentially, strategic marketing is the act of uncovering the information you’ll need to create an effective marketing plan and execute successful campaigns.
Strategic Marketing Process Phases
Given that strategic marketing directly influences many elements of your overall marketing strategy, it’s important to approach the process carefully. Below we’ll discuss the different phases of a strategic marketing process.
1. Planning Phase
The first stage of strategic marketing is the planning phase. It’s the most critical step, as it is the basis of your efforts. You’ll want to identify your business purpose, needs, and the goals and objectives you want to accomplish, as the entire process will help you achieve them.
Without this information, it will be challenging to progress to the next steps as you won’t understand the purpose behind your marketing efforts, which makes it even harder to create a solid plan that helps you succeed.
2. Analysis Phase
The analysis phase involves taking an outward look at how your company measures up to your competitors and your industry. During this stage, many businesses will conduct market research and competitor analyses .
Market research will give you an understanding of what your industry looks like, like current trends, market share , and an overall sense of the playing field. The information you discover should also validate your goals and objectives and let you know if they’re achievable. For example, if your overall business goal is to bring a new type of fork to market, but there is no industry or consumer demand for this new type of fork, your efforts won’t be worthwhile.
A competitor analysis will teach you the ins and outs of how your competition works, their position in the industry, and any possible gaps in the market that you can take advantage of to out-perform them. You can look at competitors’ customer testimonials to get a sense of what your target audience is looking for that they don’t provide and use that insight to build a product that your ideal customer already wants.
You’ll also want to take time to study your target audience and create buyer personas . Aim to gain a well-rounded understanding of who your customers are, their needs, desires, interests, and where you’ll find them within the market.
All in all, your analyses should give you an understanding of how competitive you are, and how competitive you’ll need to be in your final strategy to outshine similar businesses and become a viable market competitor.
3. Development Phase
Once you have a clear picture of your industry and how you should present yourself in the market, the next step is to develop your marketing plan. This stage is more closely related to the aspect of marketing you may be most familiar with, as you’re establishing the marketing tactics that are informed by your strategic marketing process.
This stage involves defining your marketing mix, which is how you’ll meet the objectives from phase one concerning the information you discovered during phase two.
A marketing mix is composed of four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Let’s go over some brief definitions of each:
- Product: This is what your business is selling. Product marketers or managers typically do this work, but it involves researching (from phase two), development, and creating a product launch timeline.
- Price: The price point at which you’ll sell to consumers. Pricing should also be informed by market research and reference to different pricing strategies .
- Place: Where your product or service will be sold, like online or in-store.
- Promotion: How you’ll advertise your product and introduce it to the market. For example, the different promotional channels (like social media) you’ll use to get your audience excited and entice them to do business with you.
You can think of it like this: say your end goal, developed during phase one, is to create a full-service CRM. Your discoveries in phase two have shown you that the current CRM your customers use isn’t scalable, which is a consistent pain point. They also want a more reasonably priced option.
This current phase would help you create, price, market, and promote your full-service, scalable, and affordable CRM to the correct audiences that are ready and eager to purchase what you have to offer.
4. Implementation Phase
The final phase of the process is when you begin to act on your marketing efforts. As the name suggests, you’ll start implementing the strategy you’ve developed based on your planning and market research. You’ll launch your product and begin seeing sales.
After implementation, it’s also important to take time to review your processes and make changes as necessary. As the market is constantly evolving, you may need to re-address certain things from phase two due to new trends or changing consumer interests.
Strategic marketing is a full circle process.
Although each phase has its unique requirements, it all comes full circle; the marketing mix you created during phase three is based on research from phase two. And, if you’ve put time and effort into your overall strategic marketing process, you’ll attract customers, drive revenue, and meet the goals and objectives you identified in phase one.
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Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
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What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One
Learn what a marketing plan is, how they help businesses, and the steps for building yours.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that a business uses to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical in nature, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analyzing campaign results.
What is the purpose of a marketing plan?
In general, a marketing plan serves several purposes:
Streamline and organize marketing efforts
Guide businesses and their marketing teams through a sequence of marketing activities
Determine how to measure a campaign’s success
Effectively allocate the marketing campaign budget
A business might develop a marketing plan for a specific need, campaign, or goal within its larger mission. Here are some examples:
Launching a new product or service
Carrying out campaigns through different marketing channels, including social media , email marketing, print media, TV, or offline events
Implementing paid advertising
Measuring marketing efforts over specific periods of time, such as every quarter, six months, or year
Marketing plan vs. marketing strategy vs. business plan
In researching what a marketing plan is, you may come across the related concepts of marketing strategy and business plan. Think of all three as written roadmaps for developing your business. You’ll find similarities among them, including your business objectives and information on your target market, but there are some important differences to know as you build these roadmaps, as we’ve laid out in the chart below.
Review these roadmaps periodically to measure the success of your marketing and business efforts.
How to create a marketing plan
The following sections describe the components of a solid marketing plan and the steps to building each one. Develop each section in the order listed, and use insights from each section to guide your process in the ones that follow. Once you complete all of the sections, review your entire plan for areas that need refining.
1. Executive summary
Here, you will write a short summary, usually no longer than a few paragraphs, to introduce the sections that follow. In a few paragraphs, orient readers to the following:
General information about the business, such as its mission, past accomplishments and setbacks, and brand identity
Information specific to the marketing campaign driving this plan and how it will advance or improve upon past marketing efforts
You might choose to compose this section last, after you’ve written and refined the marketing plan as a whole.
2. Marketing campaign goals
Borrowing from your marketing strategy and business plan, state the marketing campaign's goals with specificity and data-driven metrics. For example:
Specify “get more email subscribers” as “increase email subscribers by 50 percent by next quarter.”
“Generate more online purchases” could be specified as “Drive traffic from paid Facebook ads to a sales page and increase the site’s conversion rate from 2 percent to 5 percent.”
3. Key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are the specific metrics you’ll monitor to measure the success of your marketing efforts. It’s important to determine KPIs so that you can continually optimize your tactics, reduce inefficiencies, and steer your marketing campaign toward success.
KPI examples include:
The number of website visitors
The number of new email subscribers
The number of event registrants
The rate of converting leads into customers
Sales revenue figures
4. Buyer personas
Refer to your marketing strategy and business plan to crystalize target market insights into detailed buyer personas. You can think of a buyer persona as a fictional character that you create based on your existing customers and extensive market research. Building clear buyer personas helps to focus your marketing efforts and drive campaign results.
Answer these questions to get started:
What is this persona’s demographic profile, including age, income, location, occupation, etc?
Where do they go to find information?
What keywords do they use to search?
How do they prefer to purchase products and services?
At what times of the day are they most likely active on social media or other marketing channels, online or offline?
What words, phrases, and questions do they use to describe their challenges and goals?
Use answers to tailor every detail of your marketing campaign to your buyer persona and guide potential customers toward an action, such as subscribing to your email list or making a purchase.
5. Competitor analysis
Refer again to your marketing strategy and business plan to extract key information about how competing brands are reaching customers in your target market. Then, examine competitors’ marketing strategies in more detail.
Here are three ways to generate marketing-specific information about competitors:
Use SEO tools like SEMRush to discover how your competitors are leveraging popular keywords, content, and ad copy to attract an audience.
Study competitors’ social media accounts and note the content they post to engage followers.
Subscribe to competitors’ email lists to learn how they market and sell to potential leads right in their inboxes.
6. Action plan
Your campaign’s action plan should include the specific tactics and methods you’ll use to market your products and services to potential customers.
Include the following information in your action plan:
The campaign budget and target date of completion
Key milestones you need to pass on your way to achieving the goals
The marketing channels you will use, offline and online
The kinds of content you will create and your schedule for delivering it
Organic and paid marketing activities
7. Method of analyzing results
Your marketing plan should describe how you will monitor KPIs and analyze your campaign results at each milestone. That way, you can find out what’s working and what’s not and adjust your plan accordingly.
Be sure to set up analytic tools for each of your marketing channels, including your social media accounts, email system, website and landing pages, and event registration pages. Set calendar alerts based on your action plan for reviewing KPIs.
Which channels see the most traffic?
Which channels are converting at the highest rates?
How are individual pieces of content performing?
How efficiently is your budget performing?
Which metrics are improving, staying the same, or declining over time?
Marketing plan key takeaways
Remember: Having a solid marketing plan can make it possible to allocate your marketing budget effectively and streamline your marketing activities. By following the seven steps above, you may be able to see improvements in your marketing efforts, from attracting more ideal customers to inspiring them to take action.
Improve your marketing with Coursera
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- 2.1 Developing a Strategic Plan
- 1 Unit Introduction
- In the Spotlight
- 1.1 Marketing and the Marketing Process
- 1.2 The Marketing Mix and the 4Ps of Marketing
- 1.3 Factors Comprising and Affecting the Marketing Environment
- 1.4 Evolution of the Marketing Concept
- 1.5 Determining Consumer Needs and Wants
- 1.6 Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- 1.7 Ethical Marketing
- Chapter Summary
- Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
- Critical Thinking Exercises
- Building Your Personal Brand
- What Do Marketers Do?
- Marketing Plan Exercise
- Closing Company Case
- 2.2 The Role of Marketing in the Strategic Planning Process
- 2.3 Purpose and Structure of the Marketing Plan
- 2.4 Marketing Plan Progress Using Metrics
- 2.5 Ethical Issues in Developing a Marketing Strategy
- 2 Unit Introduction
- 3.1 Understanding Consumer Markets and Buying Behavior
- 3.2 Factors That Influence Consumer Buying Behavior
- 3.3 The Consumer Purchasing Decision Process
- 3.4 Ethical Issues in Consumer Buying Behavior
- 4.1 The Business-to-Business (B2B) Market
- 4.2 Buyers and Buying Situations in a B2B Market
- 4.3 Major Influences on B2B Buyer Behavior
- 4.4 Stages in the B2B Buying Process
- 4.5 Ethical Issues in B2B Marketing
- 5.1 Market Segmentation and Consumer Markets
- 5.2 Segmentation of B2B Markets
- 5.3 Segmentation of International Markets
- 5.4 Essential Factors in Effective Market Segmentation
- 5.5 Selecting Target Markets
- 5.6 Product Positioning
- 5.7 Ethical Concerns and Target Marketing
- 6.1 Marketing Research and Big Data
- 6.2 Sources of Marketing Information
- 6.3 Steps in a Successful Marketing Research Plan
- 6.4 Ethical Issues in Marketing Research
- 7.1 The Global Market and Advantages of International Trade
- 7.2 Assessment of Global Markets for Opportunities
- 7.3 Entering the Global Arena
- 7.4 Marketing in a Global Environment
- 7.5 Ethical Issues in the Global Marketplace
- 8.1 Strategic Marketing: Standardization versus Adaptation
- 8.2 Diversity and Inclusion Marketing
- 8.3 Multicultural Marketing
- 8.4 Marketing to Hispanic, Black, and Asian Consumers
- 8.5 Marketing to Sociodemographic Groups
- 8.6 Ethical Issues in Diversity Marketing
- 3 Unit Introduction
- 9.1 Products, Services, and Experiences
- 9.2 Product Items, Product Lines, and Product Mixes
- 9.3 The Product Life Cycle
- 9.4 Marketing Strategies at Each Stage of the Product Life Cycle
- 9.5 Branding and Brand Development
- 9.6 Forms of Brand Development, Brand Loyalty, and Brand Metrics
- 9.7 Creating Value through Packaging and Labeling
- 9.8 Environmental Concerns Regarding Packaging
- 9.9 Ethical Issues in Packaging
- 10.1 New Products from a Customer’s Perspective
- 10.2 Stages of the New Product Development Process
- 10.3 The Use of Metrics in Evaluating New Products
- 10.4 Factors Contributing to the Success or Failure of New Products
- 10.5 Stages in the Consumer Adoption Process for New Products
- 10.6 Ethical Considerations in New Product Development
- 11.1 Classification of Services
- 11.2 The Service-Profit Chain Model and the Service Marketing Triangle
- 11.3 The Gap Model of Service Quality
- 11.4 Ethical Considerations in Providing Services
- 12.1 Pricing and Its Role in the Marketing Mix
- 12.2 The Five Critical Cs of Pricing
- 12.3 The Five-Step Procedure for Establishing Pricing Policy
- 12.4 Pricing Strategies for New Products
- 12.5 Pricing Strategies and Tactics for Existing Products
- 12.6 Ethical Considerations in Pricing
- 13.1 The Promotion Mix and Its Elements
- 13.2 The Communication Process
- 13.3 Integrated Marketing Communications
- 13.4 Steps in the IMC Planning Process
- 13.5 Ethical Issues in Marketing Communication
- 14.1 Advertising in the Promotion Mix
- 14.2 Major Decisions in Developing an Advertising Plan
- 14.3 The Use of Metrics to Measure Advertising Campaign Effectiveness
- 14.4 Public Relations and Its Role in the Promotion Mix
- 14.5 The Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Relations
- 14.6 Ethical Concerns in Advertising and Public Relations
- 15.1 Personal Selling and Its Role in the Promotion Mix
- 15.2 Classifications of Salespeople Involved in Personal Selling
- 15.3 Steps in the Personal Selling Process
- 15.4 Management of the Sales Force
- 15.5 Sales Promotion and Its Role in the Promotion Mix
- 15.6 Main Types of Sales Promotion
- 15.7 Ethical Issues in Personal Selling and Sales Promotion
- 16.1 Traditional Direct Marketing
- 16.2 Social Media and Mobile Marketing
- 16.3 Metrics Used to Evaluate the Success of Online Marketing
- 16.4 Ethical Issues in Digital Marketing and Social Media
- 17.1 The Use and Value of Marketing Channels
- 17.2 Types of Marketing Channels
- 17.3 Factors Influencing Channel Choice
- 17.4 Managing the Distribution Channel
- 17.5 The Supply Chain and Its Functions
- 17.6 Logistics and Its Functions
- 17.7 Ethical Issues in Supply Chain Management
- 18.1 Retailing and the Role of Retailers in the Distribution Channel
- 18.2 Major Types of Retailers
- 18.3 Retailing Strategy Decisions
- 18.4 Recent Trends in Retailing
- 18.5 Wholesaling
- 18.6 Recent Trends in Wholesaling
- 18.7 Ethical Issues in Retailing and Wholesaling
- 19.1 Sustainable Marketing
- 19.2 Traditional Marketing versus Sustainable Marketing
- 19.3 The Benefits of Sustainable Marketing
- 19.4 Sustainable Marketing Principles
- 19.5 Purpose-Driven Marketing
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- 1 Define strategic planning and list the steps in the strategic planning process.
- 2 Write an effective vision statement and mission statement.
- 3 Describe the role of company values.
- 4 Perform a gap analysis.
- 5 Write SMART objectives and goals.
- 6 Summarize ways to monitor progress of the strategic plan.
Strategic Planning Defined
Let’s start with a simplified definition of strategy and then move on from there. Many if not most of you have watched a football game, either live or on TV. Perhaps you’re a fan of a particular team or you’ll watch the Super Bowl (perhaps just to see the commercials). Every football coach knows that you don’t enter a game without a game plan—the process of taking plays out of the playbook and putting them into a game plan for a specific opponent. This isn’t an easy task. The coaching staff has to consider the skills and experience of the players on the team as well as the strengths—and weaknesses—of the opposing team, and they will develop the plays that they feel will best neutralize the strengths of the opposing team while taking advantage of the strengths of their own players.
That football game plan is a great analogy for a business’s overall strategy —the plans, actions, objectives, and goals that outline how the business is going to compete in its chosen markets given its portfolio of products or services. In marketing, a portfolio is a collection or listing of all the goods and services that a company sells to customers.
Distinctions are often made between corporate-level strategy, business-level strategy, and functional strategy, so let’s briefly define them here. Corporate-level strategy covers the entire business in a complex organization where there are multiple businesses, divisions, or operating units (sometimes called strategic business units , or SBUs). Corporate-level strategies are formulated and implemented by upper management. Business-level strategy is the strategic plan created for a single business or operating unit, and these plans are generally developed by middle management to support the corporate-level strategy. Corporate-level and business-level strategies lead to the development of functional strategy , which is the plan to achieve the corporate- and business-level objectives in functional areas such as human resources, marketing, and production.
People say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at how this breaks down in Figure 2.2 .
Many organizations have only a single product line, market focus, or business, so they will require only a business-level strategy. However, with larger organizations, it can be important to break the overall business into smaller, more manageable strategic business units to maintain an overall focus on the business as a whole and pull the business-level strategies into a cohesive whole.
Consider, for example, Procter & Gamble . The producer of such diverse products as diapers, Tide detergent, and Oral-B toothpaste has five industry-based strategic business units—baby, feminine, and family care; beauty; health care; grooming; and fabric and home care, family care, and new ventures. Each of these SBUs has its own chief executive officer and functions essentially as a standalone business under the corporate “umbrella.” 5
When you consider the complexities of the diverse markets Procter & Gamble serves, this makes sense. Competing in the oral care market is vastly different than competing in baby products, so separate SBUs require separate strategic plans.
Steps in the Strategic Planning Process
There are many variations of the strategic planning process—almost as many as there are publications on strategic planning. For our purposes in this textbook, we’re going to use the five-step process outlined in Figure 2.3 . Keep in mind, however, that the process may be a little different for some organizations depending on the stage of their products in the product life cycle (which we’ll learn more about in Products: Consumer Offerings ), the maturity of the industry in which the business participates, how competitive the marketplace is, and other factors.
These elements will all be defined in more detail in the sections that follow.
Step One: The Vision Statement: Where Do We See the Business Going?
The strategic planning process begins with a solid understanding of what the organization is trying to create—that is, its vision statement . A vision statement is forward-looking and is intended to create a mental image of what the organization wants to achieve in the longer term. Vision statements should be both inspirational and aspirational.
Let’s look at some vision statements from companies with which you might be familiar so you’ll see how this works:
- Amazon : “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online” 6
- Volkswagen : “To make this world a mobile, sustainable place with access to all the citizens” 7
- Fujitsu : “Understanding you better—serving you best” 8
Link to Learning
For more information on how to write a vision statement, take a look at this brief video from RapidStart Leadership.
Step Two: The Mission Statement: Why Does the Business Exist?
Now that the vision statement is complete, it’s time to tackle the mission statement, which quite simply answers the question, Why does the company exist? The mission statement of an organization sums up in one to three sentences what the company does, who it serves, and what differentiates it from its competitors. Whereas the vision statement provided the destination (i.e., Where is the business going?), the mission statement provides the guideposts for the business to get there.
Mission statements serve two purposes. First, a well-written mission statement helps employees remain focused on the aims of the business. Second, it encourages them to discover ways of moving toward increasing their productivity in order to achieve company goals. Mission statements aren’t just for internal use, however. Prospective investors also often refer to a company’s mission statement to see if their values align with those of the company. Once again, let’s bring this definition to life by including a few mission statements from well-known companies:
- BMW : “The BMW Group is the world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility” 9
- Tesla : “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible” 10
- Apple : “To bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world” 11
There are also two types of mission statements: customer oriented or product oriented. What’s the difference? A customer-oriented mission statement defines the business in terms of how it intends to provide solutions to customer needs. As examples, take a look at some of these customer-oriented mission statements:
- IKEA : “To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them” 12
- Netflix : “To entertain the world” 13
The other type of mission statement is a product-oriented one. With a product-oriented mission statement, the focus is on the offering itself rather than the needs of customers. Again, look at a couple of examples of product-oriented mission statements so you can see the difference between these mission statements and the customer-oriented mission statements shown above:
- eBay : “To be the world’s favorite destination for discovering great value and unique selection” 14
- Genentech : “To develop drugs to address significant unmet medical needs” 15
For more information on how to write an effective mission statement, check out this brief video from Bplans.
Then watch this video from Entrepreneur.
Step Three: Perform a Gap Analysis
Before we get into the specifics of how to perform a gap analysis, let’s define it. Simply put, a gap analysis is an internal analysis of the company or organization to identify and review any inherent deficiencies that may hinder its ability to meet its goals. In other words, a gap analysis determines what factors in the organization may be causing it to underperform.
A gap analysis answers the following questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where would we like to be?
- What’s stopping us from getting there?
A gap analysis as part of the strategic planning process is a way to determine where the “soft spots” are and where adjustments need to be made before setting a course of action.
There are four steps to completion of a gap analysis. Let’s take a look:
- Step 1: Identify the current state of the business, organization, or department. Let’s use an example of a company that wants to increase market share of its product line. To date, current growth is sluggish, averaging only 5 percent per year. 16
- Step 2: Identify where you want to be. “Where you want to be” may be identified by using different terms—the desired state, the future target, or a stretch goal. It stands to reason that you’ll want to consider your current state (from Step 1) and where you want to be in a reasonable time frame. Do you want to increase market share by 10 percent within the first year? Do you want to increase market share by 25 percent within the first three years? Because strategic plans often go out three to five years, your “where you want to be” can be lengthy as well. 17
- Step 3: Identify the gaps. At this point in your gap analysis, you’ve identified where your organization current is and where it wants to be. Now it’s time to identify how you’re going to bridge that gap. This step involves figuring out what those gaps are. Is market share suffering because a new competitor introduced a similar but lower-priced product into the market? Is your pricing too high given production capabilities and costs? Has the advertising campaign introduced last year lost its sizzle, or worse yet, did your most recent advertising campaign flop? 18
- Step 4: Devise improvements to close the gaps. It’s time to determine the proper course of action to close the gap, keeping in mind the cost of implementation for each solution. 19 This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, because ideas are easy; it’s the execution of those ideas that becomes challenging. An effective gap analysis not only identifies the problems (i.e., gaps) but also sets forth what needs to happen in specific terms to close those gaps. Will a new advertising campaign boost market share? Do we need to hire a new advertising agency? And what will a new advertising campaign cost? Are there cost-cutting measures that can be taken to reduce manufacturing costs, thereby reducing the product’s cost to consumers?
Step Four: Establish Objectives and Goals
With the mission and vision statement in place, along with a candid view of the organization through gap analysis, we can now define the goals and objectives for the organization. Goals and objectives are a critical part of every organization, particularly in the strategic planning process. When written effectively, these goals provide a sense of direction and a clearer focus. It’s these goals that give the organization a target at which it can aim, so to speak.
But before we go further, let’s differentiate between goals and objectives. Both terms refer to desired outcomes that the organization wants to achieve, but that’s where the similarity ends. Goals are statements of desired outcomes that are expected to be achieved over a longer period of time, typically three to five years. Goals are broad statements of the desired results; they do not describe the methods that will be utilized in order to achieve those results. For example, common business goals may include increasing revenue or market share or reducing the company’s carbon footprint. 20
On the other hand, objectives are “action items.” They are specific targets to be achieved within a shorter time frame, generally one year or less, in order to achieve the stated goal. Whereas goals describe the end result, objectives describe the actions or activities that need to take place in order to achieve the goal. For example, if your goal was to increase market share, the objective would likely be stated as something like “Increase market share to 6 percent by the end of the year.” 21
The goals and objectives of an organization define the key actions that allow it to execute its chosen strategy. However, in order to be effective, goals and objectives should be SMART— specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound—as shown in Figure 2.4 .
- First, effective goals should be specific— there’s the “S” in SMART goals. They should be clear and easy to understand. A specific goal answers questions like “What needs to be accomplished?” To illustrate this, imagine that you’ve decided to improve your grade point average. “Improve my GPA” is indeed a goal, but it’s too vague to be a helpful goal. By how many points do you want to improve your GPA? To make your goal more meaningful (and specific), you might want to restate your goal as “Improve my current GPA from 2.8 to 3.5.”
- Second, effective goals should be measurable —there’s the “M” in SMART goals. Specificity is a solid start, but quantifying your goals makes it easier to track progress and see when you’ve achieved your goal. The bottom line is, you can’t see results without knowing what they look like, and if you’re not measuring anything, how will you know when and if you’ve accomplished it? Your original goal of “improve my GPA” isn’t measurable. How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? When you’ve increased it by .1, .2, .5, or even a full point? By setting a goal to “improve my current GPA from 2.8 to 3.5 by the end of the semester,” you’ve set a goal that’s easily measurable—just look at your grades at the end of the semester!
- Third, effective goals should be attainable . There’s actually some disagreement as to the name of this third element. Some marketing experts tout using “ambitious”; others suggest “achievable” or “actionable.” For our purposes, we’re going to stick with “attainable” because although goals should be a reach, establishing goals that aren’t within reach can turn out to be an exercise in frustration. Let’s go back to our GPA analogy. If it’s mid-April and you’re barely passing your current classes, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
- Fourth, effective goals should be realistic . Once again, there’s actually some disagreement as to the name of this element; you may see it shown as “relevant” in other textbooks or articles. We’re going to use “realistic” because the term reflects the balance between goals that are too easy and too hard. Taken in the context of a strategic plan, your goals must represent a substantial objective that you’re willing and able to work toward, but there should be a reasonable chance that you can achieve it. 22 Getting back to our GPA analogy, if you’ve got Cs in all of your classes and it’s already mid-April, improving your GPA to 3.5 by the end of the semester is probably not realistic.
- Finally, effective goals should be time-bound . Every goal should be grounded by a time frame within which the goal is to be achieved. Without a deadline, there is little sense of urgency to work to achieve the goal. Having a goal with a target date (like the end of the semester) gives you something to focus on and work toward and prevents everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.
For more information on establishing SMART Goals, check out this video from SMA Marketing .
If you had decided to save money from each of your paychecks to eventually purchase a new car, you’d probably check the balance in your savings account on a regular basis to see how you’re progressing toward your goal. The same is true in the strategic planning process. In order for goals and objectives to be effective, marketers need to monitor them on a continuous basis to determine if they’re on track or if the goals and objectives need to be refined in response to unforeseen circumstances.
One way that marketers accomplish this is through the use of a marketing dashboard. Like the dashboard in your car, which tells you at a glance how much fuel you have, how fast you’re going, and a host of other important information, a marketing dashboard summarizes important marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs; to be covered later in this chapter) into easy-to-understand measurements. 23 This enables marketers to view ongoing progress so that they can be aware of potential problems before they actually become serious issues.
Careers In Marketing
Marketing manager jobs differ by company and industry, but in general it’s a leadership position in charge of the marketing strategy at a company or for a product. Marketing managers often complete research, create pricing parameters, and work with other departments within the company such as finance, legal, advertising, promotion, and product development. Read this Marketing Manager article to learn more about the specifics of what a marketing manager does and the types of marketing manager that exist. It’s commonly known that marketing managers need to be proficient in problem-solving. Read this article to learn why it’s important and the specific skills you’ll need.
There is growth potential in being a marketing manager. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent growth in the job role from 2021 to 2031, and you can read more about the job outlook here .
Would you like to know more about the job role? Read this Forbes article to learn the top skills necessary, the typical path to this job, and degree requirements.
There are many types of jobs in marketing. You’ll be introduced to several throughout this textbook. You’ll also want to check out this list of 15 job titles and what the job role encompasses. Keep in mind that regardless of where you start in marketing, you have options as you move in your career journey. Many people move between marketing roles, and the skills you learn in each role will help you in other roles.
It’s time to check your knowledge on the concepts presented in this section. Refer to the Answer Key at the end of the book for feedback.
- Vision statement
- Mission statement
- Gap analysis
- Goals and objectives
- Functional strategy
- Strategic business unit strategy
- Corporate-level strategy
- Business-level strategy
- A statement that answers the question, Where do we see the business going?
- An internal analysis of the company to identify inherent deficiencies that may hinder its ability to meet its goals
- A statement that answers the question, Why does the business exist?
- A strategic plan created for a single business or operating unit
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Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/principles-marketing/pages/1-unit-introduction
- Authors: Dr. Maria Gomez Albrecht, Dr. Mark Green, Linda Hoffman
- Publisher/website: OpenStax
- Book title: Principles of Marketing
- Publication date: Jan 25, 2023
- Location: Houston, Texas
- Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/principles-marketing/pages/1-unit-introduction
- Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/principles-marketing/pages/2-1-developing-a-strategic-plan
© Dec 20, 2022 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.
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Strategic Marketing Concept
a philosophy, focus, orientation or concept which emphasises the proper identification of marketing opportunities as the basis for marketing planning and corporate growth; unlike the marketing concept which emphasises consumer needs and wants, the strategic marketing concept emphasises both consumers and competitors. See Marketing Concept.
Select a letter to find terms listed alphabetically.
- Business strategy |
- What is strategic planning? 5 steps and ...
What is strategic planning? 5 steps and processes
A strategic plan helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. It includes your company’s vision and mission statements, goals, and the actions you’ll take to achieve those goals. In this article we describe how a strategic plan compares to other project and business tools, plus four steps to create a successful strategic plan for your company.
Strategic planning is when business leaders map out their vision for the organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. Strategic plans inform your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals. So if you work for a small company or startup, you could likely benefit from creating a strategic plan. When you have a clear sense of where your organization is going, you’re able to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact.
The strategic planning process doesn’t just help you identify where you need to go—during the process, you’ll also create a document you can share with employees and stakeholders so they stay informed. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get started developing a strategic plan.
What is a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is a tool to define your organization’s goals and what actions you will take to achieve them. Typically, a strategic plan will include your company’s vision and mission statements, your long-term goals (as well as short-term, yearly objectives), and an action plan of the steps you’re going to take to move in the right direction.
Your strategic plan document should include:
Your company’s mission statement
Your company’s goals
A plan of action to achieve those goals
Your approach to achieving your goals
The tactics you’ll use to meet your goals
An effective strategic plan can give your organization clarity and focus. This level of clarity isn’t always a given—according to our research, only 16% of knowledge workers say their company is effective at setting and communicating company goals. By investing time into strategy formulation, you can build out a three- to five-year vision for the future of your company. This strategy will then inform your yearly and quarterly company goals.
Do I need a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics. Here’s how a strategic plan compares to other project management and business tools.
Strategic plan vs. business plan
A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.
You should create a business plan when you’re:
Just starting your business
Significantly restructuring your business
If your business is already established, consider creating a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.
Key takeaway: A business plan works for new businesses or large organizational overhauls. Strategic plans are better for established businesses.
Strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements
Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.
As a result, you should already have your mission and vision statements drafted before you create a strategic plan. Ideally, this is something you created during the business planning phase or shortly after your company started. If you don’t have a mission or vision statement, take some time to create those now. A mission statement states your company’s purpose and it addresses what problem your organization is trying to solve. A vision statement states, in very broad strokes, how you’re going to get there.
A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose
A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose
A strategic plan should include your mission and vision statements, but it should also be more specific than that. Your mission and vision statements could, theoretically, remain the same throughout your company’s entire lifespan. A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction.
For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:
Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.”
Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.”
Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners.
Key takeaway: A strategic plan draws inspiration from your mission and vision statements.
Strategic plan vs. company objectives
Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time.
Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.
Key takeaway: Company objectives are broad, evergreen goals, while a strategic plan is a specific plan of action.
Strategic plan vs. business case
A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business.
You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.
Key takeaway: A business case tackles one initiative or investment, while a strategic plan maps out years of overall growth for your company.
Strategic plan vs. project plan
A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan.
A project plan has seven parts:
Stakeholders and roles
Scope and budget
Milestones and deliverables
Timeline and schedule
Key takeaway: You may build project plans to map out parts of your strategic plan.
When should I create a strategic plan?
You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed. That being said, if your organization moves quickly, consider creating one every two to three years instead. Small businesses may need to create strategic plans more often, as their needs change.
Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets.
What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?
The strategic planning process should be run by a small team of key stakeholders who will be in charge of building your strategic plan.
Your group of strategic planners, sometimes called the management committee, should be a small team of five to 10 key stakeholders and decision-makers for the company. They won’t be the only people involved—but they will be the people driving the work.
Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the strategic planning process.
Step 1: Determine where you are
Before you can get started with strategy development and define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders—like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:
Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future
Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services
Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether in the product, business practices, or company culture
A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process).
To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:
What does your organization currently do well?
What separates you from your competitors?
What are your most valuable internal resources?
What tangible assets do you have?
What is your biggest strength?
What does your organization do poorly?
What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?
What do your competitors do better than you?
What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?
What processes or products need improvement?
What opportunities does your organization have?
How can you leverage your unique company strengths?
Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?
How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?
Is there an emerging need for your product or service?
What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?
Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?
Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?
Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company?
Step 2: Identify your goals and objectives
This is where the magic happens. To develop your strategy, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your original business documents—these are your final destination.
To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” This can help you figure out exactly which path you need to take.
During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents to ensure your strategic plan is moving your company in the right direction like:
Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose
Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision
Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company
Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market
Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years
Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in
Step 3: Develop your plan
Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Your plan will take your position and strategy into account to define your organization-wide plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your strategic plan should be created as the quarters and years go on.
As you build your strategic plan, you should define:
Your company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.
Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals .
Related key results and KPIs for that first year. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable.
Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.
A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.
Step 4: Execute your plan
After all that buildup, it’s time to put your plan into action. New strategy execution involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success.
Map your processes with key performance indicators, which will gauge the success of your plan. KPIs will establish which parts of your plan you want achieved in what time frame.
A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch:
Align tasks with job descriptions to make sure people are equipped to get their jobs done
Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process
Fully commit to your plan
Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed
At this point, you should have created and implemented your new strategic framework. The final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.
Share your strategic plan —this isn’t a document to hide away. Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to it so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and your overall strategic plan. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management tool .
Update your plan regularly (quarterly and annually). Make sure you’re using your strategic plan to inform your shorter-term goals. Your strategic plan also isn’t set in stone. You’ll likely need to update the plan if your company decides to change directions or make new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan to ensure you’re building your organization in the best direction possible for the next few years.
Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever—even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.
The benefits of strategic planning
Strategic planning can help with goal-setting by allowing you to explain how your company will move towards your mission and vision statements in the next three to five years. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).
When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:
Align everyone around a shared purpose
Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go
Define long-term goals, and then set shorter-term goals to support them
Assess your current situation and any opportunities—or threats
Help your business be more durable because you’re thinking long-term
Increase motivation and engagement
Sticking to the strategic plan
To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done.
With clear priorities, team members can focus on the initiatives that are making the biggest impact for the company—and they’ll likely be more engaged while doing so.
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The Complete Guide to Writing a Strategic Plan
By Joe Weller | April 12, 2019 (updated November 16, 2023)
Writing a strategic plan can be daunting, as the process includes many steps. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of writing a strategic plan, what to include, common challenges, and more.
Included on this page, you'll find details on what to include in a strategic plan , the importance of an executive summary , how to write a mission statement , how to write a vision statement , and more.
The Basics of Writing a Strategic Plan
The strategic planning process takes time, but the payoff is huge. If done correctly, your strategic plan will engage and align stakeholders around your company’s priorities.
Strategic planning, also called strategy development or analysis and assessment , requires attention to detail and should be performed by someone who can follow through on next steps and regular updates. Strategic plans are not static documents — they change as new circumstances arise, both internally and externally.
Before beginning the strategic planning process, it’s important to make sure you have buy-in from management, a board of directors, or other leaders. Without it, the process cannot succeed.
Next, gather your planning team. The group should include people from various departments at different levels, and the planning process should be an open, free discussion within the group. It’s important for leaders to get input from the group as a whole, but they don’t necessarily need approval from everyone — that will slow down the process.
The plan author is responsible for writing and putting the final plan together and should work with a smaller group of writers to establish and standardize the tone and style of the final document or presentation.
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to hire an external party to help facilitate the strategic planning process.
“It often can be helpful to have a really good facilitator to organize and pursue strategic conversations,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement .
Byson says the facilitator can be in-house or external, but they need experience. “You need to make sure someone is good, so there needs to be a vetting process,” he says.
One way to gauge a facilitator’s experience is by asking how they conduct conversations. “It’s important for facilitators to lead by asking questions,” Bryson says.
Bryson says that strong facilitators often ask the following questions:
What is the situation we find ourselves in?
What do we do?
How do we do it?
How do we link our purposes to our capabilities?
The facilitators also need to be able to handle conflict and diffuse situations by separating idea generation from judgement. “Conflict is part of strategic planning,” Bryson admits. “[Facilitators] need to hold the conversations open long enough to get enough ideas out there to be able to make wise choices.”
These outside helpers are sometimes more effective than internal facilitators since they are not emotionally invested in the outcome of the process. Thus, they can concentrate on the process and ask difficult questions.
A strategic plan is a dynamic document or presentation that details your company’s present situation, outlines your future plans, and shows you how the company can get there. You can take many approaches to the process and consider differing ideas about what needs to go into it, but some general concepts stand.
“Strategic planning is a prompt or a facilitator for fostering strategic thinking, acting, and learning,” says Bryson. He explains that he often begins planning projects with three questions:
What do you want to do?
How are we going to do it?
What would happen if you did what you want to do?
The answers to these questions make up the meat of the planning document.
A strategic plan is only effective when the writing and thinking is clear, since the intent is to help an organization keep to its mission through programs and capacity, while also building stakeholder engagement.
Question 1: Where Are We Now?
The answer (or answers) to the first question — where are we now? — addresses the foundation of your organization, and it can serve as an outline for the following sections of your strategic plan:
Core values and guiding principles
Identification of competing organizations
Industry analysis (this can include a SWOT or PEST analysis)
Question 2: Where Are We Going?
The answers to this question help you identify your goals for the future of the business and assess whether your current trajectory is the future you want. These aspects of the plan outline a strategy for achieving success and can include the following:
Vision statement about what the company will look like in the future
What is happening (both internally and externally) and what needs to change
The factors necessary for success
Question 3: How Do We Get There?
The answers to this question help you outline the many routes you can take to achieve your vision and match your strengths with opportunities in the market. A Gantt chart can help you map out and keep track of these initiatives.
You should include the following sections:
Specific and measurable goals
An execution plan that identifies who manages and monitors the plan
An evaluation plan that shows how you plan to measure the successes and setbacks that come with implementation
What to Include in a Strategic Plan
Strategic planning terminology is not standardized throughout the industry, and this can lead to confusion. Instead, strategic planning experts use many names for the different sections of a strategic plan.
“The terms are all over the map. It’s really the concept of what the intention of the terms are [that is important],” says Denise McNerney, President and CEO of iBossWell, Inc. , and incoming president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). She recommends coming up with a kind of glossary that defines the terms for your team. “One of the most important elements when you’re starting the strategic planning process is to get some clarity on the nomenclature. It’s just what works for your organization. Every organization is slightly different.”
No matter what terms you use, the general idea of a strategic plan is the same. “It’s like drawing a map for your company. One of the first steps is committing to a process, then determining how you’re going to do it,” McNerney explains.
She uses a basic diagram that she calls the strategic plan architecture . The areas above the red dotted line are the strategic parts of the plan. Below the red dotted line are the implementation pieces.
While the specific terminology varies, basic sections of a strategic plan include the following in roughly this order:
Elevator pitch or company description
Some plans will contain all the above sections, but others will not — what you include depends on your organization’s structure and culture.
“I want to keep it simple, so organizations can be successful in achieving [the strategic plan],” McNerney explains. “Your plan has to be aligned with your culture and your culture needs to be aligned with your plan if you’re going to be successful in implementing it.”
The following checklist will help you keep track of what you have done and what you still need to do.
Download Strategic Plan Sections Checklist
How to Write a Strategic Plan
Once you’ve assembled your team and defined your terms, it’s time to formalize your ideas by writing the strategic plan. The plan may be in the form of a document, a presentation, or another format.
You can use many models and formats to create your strategic plan (read more about them in this article ). However, you will likely need to include some basic sections, regardless of the particular method you choose (even if the order and way you present them vary). In many cases, the sections of a strategic plan build on each other, so you may have to write them in order.
One tip: Try to avoid jargon and generic terms; for example, words like maximize and succeed lose their punch. Additionally, remember that there are many terms for the same object in strategic planning.
The following sections walk you through how to write common sections of a strategic plan.
How to Write an Executive Summary
The key to writing a strong executive summary is being clear and concise. Don’t feel pressured to put anything and everything into this section — executive summaries should only be about one to two pages long and include the main points of the strategic plan.
The idea is to pique the reader’s interest and get them to read the rest of the plan. Because it functions as a review of the entire document, write the executive summary after you complete the rest of your strategic plan.
“If you have a plan that’s really lengthy, you should have a summary,” says Jim Stockmal, President of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He always writes summaries last, after he has all the data and information he needs for the plan. He says it is easier to cut than to create something.
For more information about writing an effective executive summary, a checklist, and free templates, read this article .
If you want a one-page executive summary, this template can help you decide what information to include.
Download One-Page Executive Summary Template
Excel | Word | PDF
How to Write a Company Description
Also called an elevator pitch , the company description is a brief outline of your organization and what it does. It should be short enough that it can be read or heard during the average elevator ride.
The company description should include the history of your company, the major products and services you provide, and any highlights and accomplishments, and it should accomplish the following:
Define what you are as a company.
Describe what the company does.
Identify your ideal client and customer.
Highlight what makes your company unique.
While this may seem basic, the company description changes as your company grows and changes. For example, your ideal customer five years ago might not be the same as the current standard or the one you want in five years.
Share the company description with everyone in your organization. If employees cannot accurately articulate what you do to others, you might miss out on opportunities.
How to Write a Mission Statement
The mission statement explains what your business is trying to achieve. In addition to guiding your entire company, it also helps your employees make decisions that move them toward the company’s overall mission and goals.
“Ideally, [the mission statement is] something that describes what you’re about at the highest level,” McNerney says. “It’s the reason you exist or what you do.”
Strong mission statements can help differentiate your company from your competitors and keep you on track toward your goals. It can also function as a type of tagline for your organization.
Mission statements should do the following:
Define your company’s purpose. Say what you do, who you do it for, and why it is valuable.
Use specific and easy-to-understand language.
Be inspirational while remaining realistic.
Be short and succinct.
This is your chance to define the way your company will make decisions based on goals, culture, and ethics. Mission statements should not be vague or generic, and they should set your business apart from others. If your mission statement could define many companies in your line of work, it is not a good mission statement.
Mission statements don’t have to be only outward-facing for customers or partners. In fact, it is also possible to include what your company does for its employees in your mission statement.
Unlike other parts of your strategic plan that are designed to be reviewed and edited periodically, your company’s mission statement should live as is for a while.
That said, make the effort to edit and refine your mission statement. Take out jargon like world class, best possible, state of the art, maximize, succeed , and so on, and cut vague or unspecific phrasing. Then let your strategic planning committee review it.
How to Write a Vision Statement
Every action your company does contributes to its vision. The vision statement explains what your company wants to achieve in the long term and can help inspire and align your team.
“The vision is the highest-ordered statement of the desired future or state of what you want your business to achieve,” McNerney explains.
A clear vision statement can help all stakeholders understand the meaning and purpose of your company. It should encourage and inspire employees while setting your company’s direction. It also helps you rule out elements that might not align with your vision.
Vision statements should be short (a few sentences). They should also be memorable, specific, and ambitious. But there is a fine line between being ambitious and creating a fantasy. The vision should be clearly attainable if you follow the goals and objectives you outline later in your strategic planning plan.
Because you need to know your company’s goals and objectives to create an accurate vision statement, you might need to wait until you have more information about the company’s direction to write your vision statement.
Below are questions to ask your team as you craft your vision statement:
What impact do we want to have on our community and industry?
How will we interact with others as a company?
What is the culture of the business?
Avoid broad statements that could apply to any company or industry. For example, phrases like “delivering a wonderful experience” could apply to many industries. Write in the present tense, avoid jargon, and be clear and concise.
Vision statements should accomplish the following:
Focus on success.
Look at and project about five to 10 years ahead.
Stay in line with the goals and values of your organization.
Once you write your vision statement, communicate it to everyone in your company. Your team should be able to easily understand and repeat the company’s vision statement. Remember, the statements can change as the environment in and around your company changes.
The Difference Between Mission and Vision Statements
Mission and vision statements are both important, but they serve very different purposes.
Mission statements show why a business exists, while vision statements are meant to inspire and provide direction. Mission statements are about the present, and vision statements are about the future. The mission provides items to act upon, and the vision offers goals to aspire to.
For example, if a vision statement is “No child goes to bed hungry,” the accompanying mission would be to provide food banks within the city limits.
While many organizations have both mission and vision statements, it’s not imperative. “Not everyone has a vision statement,” McNerney says. “Some organizations just have one.”
If you choose to have only one statement, McNerney offers some advice: “Any statement you have, if you have just one, needs to include what [you do], how [you do it], why [you do it], and who you do it for.”
During the planning process, these key statements might change. “Early on in the process, you need to talk about what you are doing and why and how you are doing it. Sometimes you think you know where you want to go, but you’re not really sure,” McNerney says. “You need to have flexibility both on the plan content and in the process.”
How to Write Your Company’s Core Values
Company core values , sometimes called organizational values , help you understand what drives the company to do what it does. In this section, you’ll learn a lot about your company and the people who work with you. It should be relatively easy to write.
“The values are the core of how you operate [and] how you treat your people, both internally and externally. Values describe the behaviors you really want to advance,” McNerney says.
There are both internal and external values looking at your employees and coworkers, as well as customers and outside stakeholders. Pinpointing values will help you figure out the traits of the people you want to hire and promote, as well as the qualities you’re looking for in your customers.
Your values should align with your vision statement and highlight your strengths while mitigating weaknesses. McNerney says many organizations do not really consider or are not honest about their company’s values when working on strategic plans, which can lead to failure.
“Your strategies have to align with your values and vice versa,” she explains.
Many companies’ values sound like meaningless jargon, so take the time to figure out what matters to your company and push beyond generic language.
How to Write about Your Industry
When planning ahead for your business, it’s important to look around. How are matters inside your company? What are your competitors doing? Who are your target customers?
“[If you don’t do a thorough industry analysis], you’re doing your planning with your head in the sand. If you’re not looking at the world around you, you’re missing a whole dimension about what should inform your decision making,” McNerney advises.
Writing about your industry helps you identify new opportunities for growth and shows you how you need to change in order to take advantage of those opportunities. Identify your key competitors, and define what you see as their strengths and weaknesses. Performing this analysis will help you figure out what you do best and how you compare to your competition. Once you know what you do well, you can exploit your strengths to your advantage.
In this section, also include your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. You can choose from many templates to help you write this section.
Next, identify your target customers. Think about what they want and need, as well as how you can provide it. Do your competitors attract your target customers, or do you have a niche that sets you apart?
The industry analysis carries a price, but also provides many benefits. “It takes some time and money to do [a thorough industry analysis], but the lack of that understanding says a lot about the future of your organization. If you don’t know what is going on around you, how can you stay competitive?” explains McNerney.
How to Write Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives
This section is the bulk of your strategic plan. Many people confuse goals and objectives, thinking the terms are interchangeable, but many argue that the two are distinct. You can think of them this way:
Goals : Goals are broad statements about what you want to achieve as a company, and they’re usually qualitative. They function as a description of where you want to go, and they can address both the short and long term.
Objectives : Objectives support goals, and they’re usually quantitative and measurable. They describe how you will measure the progress needed to arrive at the destination you outlined in the goal. More than one objective can support one goal.
For example, if your goal is to achieve success as a strategic planner, your objective would be to write all sections of the strategic plan in one month.
iBossWell, Inc.’s McNerney reiterates that there are not hard and fast definitions for the terms goals and objectives , as well as many other strategic planning concepts. “I wouldn’t attempt to put a definition to the terms. You hear the terms goals and objectives a lot, but they mean different things to different people. What some people call a goal , others call an objective . What some people call an objective , others would call a KPI. ” They key, she explains, is to decide what the terms mean in your organization, explain the definitions to key stakeholders, and stick to those definitions.
How to Write Goals
Goals form the basis of your strategic plan. They set out your priorities and initiatives, and therefore are critical elements and define what your plan will accomplish. Some planning specialists use the term strategic objectives or strategic priorities when referring to goals, but for clarity, this article will use the term goals.
“[Goals] are the higher level that contain several statements about what your priorities are,” McNerney explains. They are often near the top of your plan’s hierarchy.
Each goal should reflect something you uncovered during the analysis phase of your strategic planning process. Goals should be precise and concise statements, not long narratives. For example, your goals might be the following:
Eliminate case backlog.
Lower production costs.
Increase total revenue.
Each goal should have a stated outcome and a deadline. Think of goal writing as a formula: Action + detail of the action + a measurable metric + a deadline = goal. For example, your goal might be: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020.
Another way to look at it: Verb (action) + adjective (description) = noun (result). An example goal: Increase website fundraising.
Your goals should strike a balance between being aspirational and tangible. You want to stretch your limits, but not make them too difficult to reach. Your entire organization and stakeholders should be able to remember and understand your goals.
Think about goals with varying lengths. Some should go out five to 10 years, others will be shorter — some significantly so. Some goals might even be quarterly, monthly, or weekly. But be careful to not create too many goals. Focus on the ones that allow you to zero in on what is critical for your company’s success. Remember, several objectives and action steps will likely come from each goal.
How to Write Objectives
Objectives are the turn-by-turn directions of how to achieve your goals. They are set in statement and purpose with no ambiguity about whether you achieve them or not.
Your goals are where you want to go. Next, you have to determine how to get there, via a few different objectives that support each goal. Note that objectives can cover several areas.
“You need implementation elements of the plan to be successful,” McNerney says, adding that some people refer to objectives as tactics , actions , and many other terms.
Objectives often begin with the words increase or decrease because they are quantifiable and measurable. You will know when you achieve an objective. They are action items, often with start and end dates.
Use the goal example from earlier: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020. In this example, your objectives could be:
Approach three new possible clients each month.
Promote the three key product areas on the website and in email newsletters.
Think of the acronym SMART when writing objectives: Make them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound.
Breaking down the process further, some strategic planners use the terms strategies and tactics to label ways to achieve objectives. Using these terms, strategies describe an approach or method you will use to achieve an objective. A tactic is a specific activity or project that achieves the strategy, which, in turn, helps achieve the objective.
How to Write about Capacity, Operations Plans, Marketing Plans, and Financial Plans
After you come up with your goals and objectives, you need to figure out who will do what, how you will market what they do, and how you will pay for what you need to do.
“If you choose to shortchange the process [and not talk about capacity and finances], you need to know what the consequences will be,” explains McNerney. “If you do not consider the additional costs or revenues your plan is going to drive, you may be creating a plan you cannot implement.”
To achieve all the goals outlined in your strategic plan, you need the right people in place. Include a section in your strategic plan where you talk about the capacity of your organization. Do you have the team members to accomplish the objectives you have outlined in order to reach your goals? If not, you may need to hire personnel.
The operations plan maps out your initiatives and shows you who is going to do what, when, and how. This helps transform your goals and objectives into a reality. A summary of it should go into your strategic plan. If you need assistance writing a comprehensive implementation plan for your organization, this article can guide you through the process.
A marketing plan describes how you attract prospects and convert them into customers. You don’t need to include the entire marketing plan in your strategic plan, but you might want to include a summary. For more information about writing marketing plans, this article can help.
Then there are finances. We would all like to accomplish every goal, but sometimes we do not have enough money to do so. A financial plan can help you set your priorities. Check out these templates to help you get started with a financial plan.
How to Write Performance Indicators
In order to know if you are reaching the goals you outline in your strategic plan, you need performance indicators. These indicators will show you what success looks like and ensure accountability. Sadly, strategic plans have a tendency to fail when nobody periodically assesses progress.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) can show you how your business is progressing. KPIs can be both financial and nonfinancial measures that help you chart your progress and take corrective measures if actions are not unfolding as they should. Other terms similar to KPIs include performance measures and performance indicators .
Performance indicators are not always financial, but they must be quantifiable. For example, tracking visitors to a website, customers completing a contact form, or the number of proposals that close with deals are all performance indicators that keep you on track toward achieving your goals.
When writing your performance indicators, pay attention to the following:
Define how often you need to report results.
Every KPI must have some sort of measure.
List a measure and a time period.
Note the data source where you will get your information to measure and track.
ASP’s Stockmal has some questions for you to ask yourself about picking performance indicators.
Are you in control of the performance measure?
Does the performance measure support the strategic outcomes?
Is it feasible?
Is data available?
Who is collecting that data, and how will they do it?
Is the data timely?
Is it cost-effective to collect that data?
ls the goal quantifiable, and can you measure it over time?
Are your targets realistic and time-bound?
Stockmal also says performance indicators cannot focus on only one thing at the detriment of another. “Don’t lose what makes you good,” he says. He adds that focusing on one KPI can hurt other areas of a company’s performance, so reaching a goal can be short-sided.
Some performance indicators can go into your strategic plan, but you might want to set other goals for your organization. A KPI dashboard can help you set up and track your performance and for more information about setting up a KPI dashboard, this article can help.
Communicating Your Strategic Plan
While writing your strategic plan, you should think about how to share it. A plan is no good if it sits on a shelf and nobody reads it.
“After the meetings are over, you have to turn your strategy into action,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . “Get in front of employees and present the plan [to get everyone involved].” Hofmeyer explains his research has shown that people stay with companies not always because of money, but often because they buy into the organization’s vision and want to play a part in helping it get where it wants to go. “These are the people you want to keep because they are invested,” he says.
Decide who should get a physical copy of the entire plan. This could include management, the board of directors, owners, and more. Do your best to keep it from your competitors. If you distribute it outside of your company, you might want to attach a confidentiality waiver.
You can communicate your plan to stakeholders in the following ways:
Hold a meeting to present the plan in person.
Highlight the plan in a company newsletter.
Include the plan in new employee onboarding.
Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress.
If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise. You should be able to defend your plan and reinforce its key areas. The goal of the plan’s distribution is to make sure everyone understands their role in making the plan successful.
Remind people of your company’s mission, vision, and values to reinforce their importance. You can use posters or other visual methods to post around the office. The more that people feel they play an important part in the organization’s success, they more successful you will be in reaching your goals of your strategic plan.
Challenges in Writing a Strategic Plan
As mentioned, strategic planning is a process and involves a team. As with any team activity, there will be challenges.
Sometimes the consensus can take priority over what is clear. Peer pressure can be a strong force, especially if a boss or other manager is the one making suggestions and people feel pressured to conform. Some people might feel reluctant to give any input because they do not think it matters to the person who ultimately decides what goes into the plan.
Team troubles can also occur when one or more members does not think the plan is important or does not buy into the process. Team leaders need to take care of these troubles before they get out of hand.
Pay attention to your company culture and the readiness you have as a group, and adapt the planning process to fit accordingly. You need to find the balance between the process and the final product.
The planning process takes time. Many organizations do not give themselves enough time to plan properly, and once you finish planning, writing the document or presentation also takes time, as does implementation. Don’t plan so much that you ignore how you are going to put the plan into action. One symptom of this is not aligning the plan to fit the capacity or finances of the company.
Stockmal explains that many organizations often focus too much on the future and reaching their goals that they forget what made them a strong company in the first place. Business architecture is important, which Stockmal says is “building the capabilities the organization needs to fulfill its strategy.” He adds that nothing happens if there is no budget workers to do the work necessary to drive change.
Be careful with the information you gather. Do not take shortcuts in the research phase — that will lead to bad information coming out further in the process. Also, do not ignore negative information you may learn. Overcoming adversity is one way for companies to grow.
Be wary of cutting and pasting either from plans from past years or from other similar organizations. Every company is unique.
And while this may sound obvious, do not ignore what your planning process tells you. Your research might show you should not go in a direction you might want to.
Writing Different Types of Strategic Plans
The strategic planning process will differ based on your organization, but the basic concepts will stay the same. Whether you are a nonprofit, a school, or a for-profit entity, strategic plans will look at where you are and how you will get to where you want to go.
How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Nonprofit
For a nonprofit, the strategic plan’s purpose is mainly how to best advance the mission. It’s imperative to make sure the mission statement accurately fits the organization.
In addition to a SWOT analysis and other sections that go into any strategic plan, a nonprofit needs to keep an eye on changing factors, such as funding. Some funding sources have finite beginnings and endings. Strategic planning is often continuous for nonprofits.
A nonprofit has to make the community care about its cause. In a for-profit organization, the marketing department works to promote the company’s product or services to bring in new revenue. For a nonprofit, however, conveying that message needs to be part of the strategic plan.
Coming up with an evaluation method and KPIs can sometimes be difficult for a nonprofit, since they are often focused on goals other than financial gain. For example, a substance abuse prevention coalition is trying to keep teens from starting to drink or use drugs, and proving the coalition’s methods work is often difficult to quantify.
This template can help you visually outline your strategic plan for your nonprofit.
Download Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template
Excel | Smartsheet
How to Write a Strategic Plan for a School
Writing a strategic plan for a school can be difficult because of the variety of stakeholders involved, including students, teachers, other staff, and parents.
Strategic planning in a school is different from others because there are no markets to explore, products to produce, clients to woo, or adjustable timelines. Schools often have set boundaries, missions, and budgets.
Even with the differences, the same planning process and structure should be in place for schools as it is for other types of organizations.
This template can help your university or school outline your strategic plan.
Download University Strategic Plan Outline – Word
How to Write a 5-Year Strategic Plan
There is no set time period for a strategic plan, but five years can be a sweet spot. In some cases, yearly planning might keep you continually stuck in the planning process, while 10 years might be too far out.
In addition to the basic sections that go into any strategic plan, when forecasting five years into the future, put one- and three-year checkpoints into the plan so you can track progress intermittently.
How to Write a 3-Year Strategic Plan
While five years is often the strategic planning sweet spot, some organizations choose to create three-year plans. Looking too far ahead can be daunting, especially for a new or changing company.
In a three-year plan, the goals and objectives have a shorter timeframe and you need to monitor them more frequently. Build those checkpoints into the plan.
“Most organizations do a three- to five-year plan now because they recognize the technology and the changes in business that are pretty dynamic now,” Stockmal says.
How to Write a Departmental Strategic Plan
The first step in writing a strategic plan for your department is to pay attention to your company’s overall strategic plan. You want to make sure the plans align.
The steps in creating a plan for a department are the same as for an overall strategic plan, but the mission statement, vision, SWOT analysis, goals, objectives, and so on are specific to only the people in your department. Look at each person separately and consider their core competencies, strengths, capabilities, and weaknesses. Assign people who will be responsible for certain tasks and tactics necessary to achieve your goals.
If you have access to a plan from a previous year, see how your department did in meeting its goals. Adjust the new plan accordingly.
When you finish your departmental plan, make sure to submit it to whomever is responsible for your company’s overall plan. Expect to make changes.
How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Project
A strategic plan is for the big picture, not for a particular project for an organization. Instead of a strategic plan, this area would fall under project management.
If you have a failing project and need to turn it around, this article might help.
How to Write a Personal Strategic Plan
Creating a strategic plan isn’t only for businesses. You can also create a strategic plan to help guide both your professional and personal life. The key is to include what is important to you. This process takes time and reflection.
Be prepared for what you discover about yourself. Because you will be looking at your strengths and weaknesses, you might see things you do not like. It is important to be honest with yourself. A SWOT analysis on yourself will give you some honest feedback if you let it.
Begin with looking at your life as it is now. Are you satisfied? What do you want to do more or less? What do you value most in your life? Go deeper than saying family, happiness, and health. This exercise will help you clarify your values.
Once you know what is important to you, come up with a personal mission statement that reflects the values you cherish. As it does within a business, this statement will help guide you in making future decisions. If something does not fit within your personal mission, you shouldn’t do it.
Using the information you discovered during your SWOT and mission statement process, come up with goals that align with your values. The goals can be broad, but don’t forget to include action items and timeframes to help you reach your goals.
As for the evaluation portion, identify how you will keep yourself accountable and on track. You might involve a person to remind you about your plan, calendar reminders, small rewards when you achieve a goal, or another method that works for you.
Below is additional advice for personal strategic plans:
There are things you can control and things you cannot. Keep your focus on what you can act on.
Look at the positive instead of what you will give up. For example, instead of focusing on losing weight, concentrate on being healthier.
Do not overcommit, and do not ignore the little details that help you reach your goals.
No matter what, do not dwell on setbacks and remember to celebrate successes.
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Strategic Marketing Plan Components and Benefits
- Sustainable Businesses
- Supply Chain Management
- Operations & Technology
- Market Research
- Business Law & Taxes
- Business Insurance
- Business Finance
- Becoming an Owner
Successful businesses create and rely on business plans to help guide them and to clarify priorities. Business plans spell out ways companies intends to rationalize their resources, engage in production, and even handle their clients. Most importantly, sound business plans include strategic marketing plans .
Strategic marketing planning is considered a creative process in its own right. Management and operations teams strive to come up with and implement practical marketing strategies that can guarantee a stable flow of business for a company.
Strategic marketing plans revolve around the kind of environment an entity desires to establish for clients in the quest to make sales. Plans include concepts such as geographical and demographic target markets as well as market segmentation .
Components of a Marketing Plan
The specifics of strategic marketing plans will vary from business to business and industry to industry, but all plans should include five key components:
- Company positioning: Outline the current position of the firm financially. Such an analysis allows the planning team to identify the strategies that were previously put in place and assess the success of the overall plan against the financial results. In the end, a SWOT analysis reveals the current situation of the company by examining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Goals and strategies: The strategic marketing plan is never complete without listing the organizational goals and strategies to be implemented. The goals inform the rationalization of resources in production, distribution, and marketing while the strategies discuss the conversion of targets into realities. For instance, a goal may state the intention to improve brand recognition and image while the corresponding plan defines the most appropriate media or promotion method to achieve desired results.
- Market opportunities: The plan always should assess emerging or existing market opportunities that may be harnessed in the short and long term. By so doing, the planners easily can dedicate resources to the most promising opportunity.
- Target market defined: It is important to define the target groups for all your products and services. This step allows you to conduct more research on their needs, demands, and even preferences to capitalize on sales. Also, define the demographic and geographic stratification of these groups.
- Marketing budget: Last and most importantly, a strategic marketing plan is considered complete due to the inclusion of a realistic marketing budget and the dedication of an implementation period. Tough decisions have to be made at this point. These include the division of duties and responsibilities.
Benefits of Strategic Marketing Planning
The process of creating a plan facilitates a common understanding among all stakeholders in an organization. The plan informs management decisions, the behavior of the employees towards institutional goals, and also the response among current and potential clients. The plan also is subjected to changes over a period of time to meet changing demands.
A sound marketing plan allows a corporate entity to grow its market share which results in more revenue and profits. As a firm expands, it can enjoy large economies of scale and thus fewer operational costs. Overall, the strategic marketing planning process connects the production engine to consumption.
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What Is a Go-to-Market Strategy? (And Why You Need It to Beat Your Competition)
Learn how to create a go-to-market framework to turn your product ideas into growth opportunities for your company.
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Imagine a world where you create a new product that everyone wants. It’s a snap to make and it sells itself – a mega hit. Congratulations, you’ve smashed your goals! In this world, there is no overnight success. If you sell a product without attracting the right buyers and demonstrating how it meets their needs, it may just sit on the shelf. Meanwhile, a competitor does their research, knows what buyers want, and delivers it. Not only have you lost revenue, you’ve lost potential customers to the competition. Ouch.
How do you avoid this and capture customer interest? Build a comprehensive go-to-market (GTM) strategy that combines careful research with tailored messaging that hits on the right buyer pain points.
What you’ll learn:
What is a go-to-market strategy? Why is a go-to-market strategy important? How to build a go-to-market strategy framework Go-to-market strategy example
What is a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy is a step-by-step plan for introducing a new product to buyers. This includes market, customer, and competitive research that uncovers problems your product can solve. Creating a buyer persona lets you target prospects with key messaging that emphasizes your product’s unique problem-solving value.
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Why is a go-to-market strategy important?
A well-crafted GTM strategy ensures target buyers see your product, understand and appreciate its value, and are compelled to buy. As Howard Brown, CEO of Revenue.io put it , “Meeting expectations early and often builds trust and is the foundation of any successful partnership.”
You can launch a product without a go-to-market strategy, but buyers who really need your product might not see or appreciate its value. They might turn to competitors who are already established in the marketplace and are percieved to be stable. In the early stage, it’s normal for someone to see your solution and say, “Oh, you’re just like [competitor],” even if they don’t offer what you offer. Research bears this out, especially for smaller companies. Of startups that fail, more than a third do so because there was no identified market need.
How to build a go-to-market strategy framework
A successful go-to-market strategy requires understanding your market, prioritizing buyers’ pains, and identifying your competitive advantage. Building a framework around these four elements can help deliver your product in a way that makes it “ready to buy.” Let’s run through how to do that in six steps.
1. Create your buyer persona
Selling is about delivering value to your target buyer, and that often takes the form of a solution to a unique problem. To make sure you’re targeting the right problem, build out a buyer persona that connects their pain points to your solution.
To surface this detail, you’ll start with your existing customers. Dig into customer data in your CRM , conduct interviews with buyers whose problems you’ve solved, and lead market research efforts to see where else these needs surface in your industry. (Check out our comprehensive guide on buyer personas for more guidance.)
If you sell B2B, your team will likely be coordinating a purchase with multiple people at each prospective company. The buying group might include end users, the CFO , an operations lead, and so on. Make sure you include problems and needs for these roles in your buyer persona.
2. Conduct competitive research
Going to market with a new product isn’t just about making sure you solve prospects’ problems. It’s also about separating yourself from the crowd of products already in market. To make sure you’re delivering unique value, conduct research on competitors with similar products to see how they’re positioned. Use these questions to guide you:
- What similar products are already in market?
- What do you offer (features, price, functionality) that your competitors don’t?
- If a competitor’s product is popular, why is it resonating with customers? How can you use that information to frame your own messaging?
If you have an AI-powered CRM, you can likely offload some of this research. Use AI tools to scan sales call transcripts for competitor mentions and pricing information. Pair this with automated online research based on industry, competitor, and product keywords. (Here’s how Sales Cloud does this.)
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3. map customer problems to your product solutions.
You know your target buyer’s problems. You know what competitors are doing to solve those problems. And, you know what your product offers. It’s time to connect all three and deliver a high-value solution that’s unique in your market. Build out a simple matrix so you can see all three and how they connect. Here’s what this might look like:
Product: Long-lasting, high-performance running shoes with extra arch support priced 20% below similar products Example buyer: Casual runner, mid-40s, median income
To keep the focus on the buyer during this value mapping, review your matrix and ask: “How would my target buyer see or understand this?” That’s a good gut check before you frame your messaging.
4. Develop key messaging for marketing and sales efforts
Using your matrix from the previous step, draft messaging for each prospect problem that shows why your product is uniquely qualified to serve as a solution with proof points to back it up.
Let’s continue with the example of our shoe buyer. You know from your research that they are between the ages of 40 and 50, like to run as a hobby, and want to stay active despite minor injuries. But, they’re also price-conscious. Here’s what key messaging might look like for this target buyer:
- Problem: Their feet hurt when they run, likely due to prior injuries, muscle strain, or bad shoes.
- Product value: A pair of running shoes designed with input from an orthopedic surgeon, with research that finds 60% of wearers felt less foot pain after a month.
- What competitors offer: Some shoe brands advertise “extra support” but don’t have medical experts contributing to design or research showing this support works.
- Key message: Running doesn’t have to end when you hit middle age. Buy orthopedist-designed running shoes that keep you on the trail, whatever your age. Don’t believe us? Just ask our runners: 60% of customers in their 40s say they felt less foot pain after a month of running in our shoes.
Complete this messaging for every problem you’ve identified, making sure to demonstrate clear and measurable ROI. You can also emphasize the potential downsides to sticking with the status quo or going with the competition.
5. Identify your sales channels
Now you need to reach your prospective customers. But how do you take your key messaging and combine it with the right buying channel ? Start by identifying the channels your buyers typically use to make a purchase, then select the right strategy to match. Here are the most common strategies:
- Direct sales: This involves a rep talking directly to a customer, building a personal relationship over time before closing a deal. This is perfect for longer sales cycles that require ongoing negotiation, typical for complex products at high price points. These deals are often high-touch, requiring a nurture-heavy strategy with lots of explanation and sharing of valuable resources to build trust.
- Self-service sales: This strategy is much more hands off, letting customers make a purchase on their own without speaking to a sales rep. Consider this option when you want to make it fast and easy for your customers to buy, and/or when you don’t have a large team to handle individual sales. It works best for simple products that don’t require a lot of explanation and are offered at a low price point. I typically see this strategy with B2C business models, where customers can buy products on a website, but I also see it with SaaS companies that offer subscriptions. For example, Salesforce lets small-business owners buy software through the Salesforce Starter page.
- Partner sales : Consider this strategy, also known as channel sales, if you want to get your product to market quickly without adding headcount. It’s ideal for smaller, resource-strapped companies launching a simple product that’s relatively low-cost, but best sold directly through reps because it requires some assistance with delivery, onboarding, or setup. The big benefit here is broader market reach via preferred vendors like online marketplaces, resellers, and third-party distributors.
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6. go to market and measure results.
With the core elements of your go-to-market strategy in place, it’s time to get your product to the right buyers. As you ramp up marketing and sales on your channel(s) of choice, start tracking total units sold, prospect engagement and objections, and sales cycle length. You can do this easily with an AI-powered sales analytics tool that delivers insights in real-time.
If you lag behind expectations, consider adjusting elements of your go-to-market strategy to compensate. Go through the steps above again periodically (at least once a quarter) to make sure your research and persona are up-to-date. By surfacing any new needs or problems of your target buyers, you can adjust messaging to keep customers interested.
Go-to-market strategy example
Mary, a software as a service (SaaS) company founder, is working on launching her new product to the market. Mary has created an innovative solution that automates data entry for companies with high volumes of customer information to manage. Her soft launch was a success, and she’s ready to sell.
To make sure she’s bringing in the right prospects, Mary develops a buyer persona based on conversations with her current customers, and conducting market research. After a few weeks, she lands on the target buyer: mid-sized retailers that take a lot of customer orders online and by phone. The problem: the only other software providers on the market are too expensive for mid-sized companies, and their solutions take too long to get up and running.
With this as a guide, Mary decides on key messaging:
- Spending your weekend entering customer orders (only to ship them too late)?
- Automate your data entry to save your weekends and keep customers happy.
Mary also knows from customer conversations that she needs a sales team to engage with prospects – it’s a long-term investment for her customers, so they need to see demos before they commit. So, she hires 10 sales reps to start conducting outreach and connecting with prospective customers.
Within a few weeks, the team has scheduled demos and is having in-person meetings. She even lands some initial clients, who find the software easy to set up out of the box and affordable for their budgets. Most of them are impressed with how it works, but there’s a problem: people say they need more app integrations to make data management easier. That’s excellent feedback, so Mary takes it to her team. After some investigation, they land on the top 10 most requested apps to start. As customers start using Mary’s software with the app integrations, they see real time savings for their teams. Because they don’t have to spend extra time entering customer data manually, they can also save on headcount and ensure customer orders are shipped promptly. Within a few months, Mary saw a 40% increase in sales, with many customers saying they’ll write positive product reviews and refer their friends.
Build your customer base with a strong go-to-market strategy
A go-to-market strategy may seem like more fuss than it’s worth, but it helps you accomplish the most important task in sales: solving customer problems. Just keep in mind that it’s not a “one and done” effort. Continually monitor your sales and customer engagement to see how you can adapt your strategy to meet evolving buyer needs.
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Richard has more than 20 years of SaaS experience and teaches revenue teams how to earn the right to ask questions, which questions to ask, and when to do it. Richard’s clients include Zoom, Salesforce, Google Cloud, PagerDuty, DoorDash, Salesloft, and Gainsight. He’s also the co-founder of Surf & Sales.
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5 Critical Strategic Planning Concepts You Need to Know
If you’ve found yourself wondering, “ What are strategic planning concepts, anyway? ” or, “ Is having a strategic plan even necessary? ” you’re in the right place.
For organizations big and small the strategic planning process involves the implementation of critical strategic concepts. It’s these concepts that help businesses achieve both their short term and long term organizational goals.
Let’s look at some of the critical concepts needed to help drive an effective strategic planning process:
In order to best position yourself within your industry you not only need an in depth understanding of the business environment in which your customer and fellow business colleagues exist, you need to gather tangible data. With enough data, a story will begin to take shape in the form of key insights. These insights can be used to being building the foundation of your strategic plan. Unfortunately, many organizations either fail to collect relevant data or choose not to use the data they collect, which is a missed opportunity to identify important information about themselves and their competitors (such as opportunities and threats, which we’ll talk about further in a moment.)
Of course, it’s important to determine what type of data and information you want to identify. What data points from what specific area of your business would be most beneficial to your long term growth? Through market research, you can gain valuable insight about market opportunities, customer preferences and motivations, market segmentation, product pricing, brand perceptions, and a variety of other important considerations. By answering key questions such as:
- Who is the target market?
- How do customers perceive competitive offerings?
- What are customer behaviors and attitudes?
- What are optimal pricing strategies?
Companies leverage market research findings to help determine the most appropriate course of action for improving market position and boosting sales or profits.
A few ways to begin researching your target market include:
- Focus groups
- B2B surveys
- Customer surveys
- Internal/external stakeholder research
Another critical strategic planning concept is evaluating the internal workings of your organization. One of the most effective ways to do this is via a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for:
- Strengths. Attributes and areas in which you are currently succeeding. An example here may be your current competitive advantages.
- Weaknesses. Areas in which you could improve and detract from your strengths. To adequately determine weaknesses you may ask questions like, “is there a business process that’s misaligned with the company vision,” or “what gaps exist in skills, knowledge, tools, or manpower.”
- Opportunities. External factors that exist within your business environment that can help you achieve your goals. You may ask if there are upcoming events that your organization’s participation can benefit from.
- Threats. External factors which you have no control over, however should be considered and planned for. Potential threats could be market competition, shifts in technology or consumer behavior.
When done correctly, a SWOT analysis can help you objectively evaluate your organization so you have a better idea of the goals you want to work toward for the future. When used in conjunction with your market research, you can leverage both your strengths (and your weakness) to gain an edge in the market.
To be truly successful with this is an exercise you’ll want to involve your entire company or organization. Honest communication is key here. A SWOT analysis requires true objectivity, and to achieve this you’ll need the perspectives of multiple people who perform different roles within the organization, not solely leadership and stakeholders (although their participation and insight is critical).
Once you’ve gathered valuable data both internally and externally, it’s necessary to develop goals and objectives. These goals should be SMART, or in other words:
- Specific. To effectively meet your objectives, it’s important to be as specific as possible with your goals, which means answering all the W’s (who, what, when, where, and why)
- Measurable. For this one, you’re gonna need metrics. Determine what you’ll use to measure your progress and the timeline in which you plan to track it.
- Achievable. Ask yourself if your goal is realistic and if you currently have the skills, tools, and/or resources to accomplish the goal.
- Relevant. This is all about alignment. Your goal should meet your overall business objectives. So, for example, if your market research uncovered a gap in your product offerings and your goal is focused on a branding overhaul, you may want to revisit your strategic goals.
- Timely . You can set both short term and long term goals, but the important part is sticking to your timeframe. Be realistic about what direction you’ll need to take and if it’s possible to accomplish the goal within the desired allotment of time.
So much of the strategic planning process happens in stages and often takes the form of a “brain dump.” Throughout the process, you’ll want to dedicate a person (or two) to overseeing the strategic management and to document the information. Once you have all your high-level business planning information, you’ll need a written framework that captures the strategy in full.
This will include your:
- Company vision
- Mission statement
- Key goals and milestones
- Financial planning
- An action plan that includes dedicated resources and employees that guide weekly, monthly, and yearly actions
If interested, we have created a framework that’s ready for your team to use and will guide you through the strategic planning process whether you are a start-up with a brand new idea, an SMB looking to grow existing verticals, or even a non-profit needing help identifying gaps in your process that are keeping you from achieving your goals.
Last, but not least, you’ll need to execute your plan. To ensure success, it’s critical that all employees and team members understand their roles and responsibilities as it applies to the business strategy. Make sure to set clear goals and communicate with your team often so they understand how their day-to-day workload fits into the long term plan.
Make sure leadership and key stakeholders review and discuss goals and objectives regularly to ensure continued alignment. Throughout the implementation process, you’ll need to monitor progress, provide performance feedback, course correct, and offer support as needed.
Keep in mind, your strategic plan is not a static document … it’s a living, breathing feat of collaboration and it may require some redirection here and there. That’s okay — most importantly, you want to remember the vision you have for your organization and the goals you have for the future. While, some elements of the plan may need to shift, consistency is key to long-term strategic success.