So, it’s taken me a long time to really understand the business planning and strategy process. I keep on finding bits and pieces as I go through different marketing problems at work. And typically I keep on going back again and again to the quickMBA website.It’s possible that I would have learned this all in a real MBA program, but I guess I’m from the school of hard knocks when it comes to Strategy (even though I know that’s an incredibly ironic statement).
There’s a really good textbook, that I read when I get bored (read: over vacations only) on it called: Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases by Thompson and Strickland. It’s honestly the best one I’ve found… most books glance over the details or present one paragraph on a topic as important as Mission or Values, without giving you a really deep understanding of how they relate to each other and the context and importance of them.
Basically… what I think happens when somebody starts a company is that they look on the interwebs for a list of possible missions and values and just pick ones that sound good. Maybe they revisit them once they are up and running and then backfill what they think their mission really is or what values have seemed to develop.
I get it…I did this when I first tried to start a company…
but fortunately I got into an accelerator program and learned about some new, “thought-leadership”, principles like customer development, business model canvas and lean startup framework. Now as great as that was for developing a new company it leaves you hanging with respect to implementation in a stable small to medium or even large business.
But… I FINALLY got the whole picture!
Note: This might be a little bit directed towards B2B companies and hardware companies, but it’s the same principles
The three areas are:
- Strategy Development/Formulation
- Strategy Implementation/Execution
- Evaluation and Control
- Set your mission and values
- Create a goal and a Big Hairy Ass Goal (BHAG). This is revenue or profit related; could also be Market share or some other metric though…
- Then do a quick Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) evaluation. Quick because you want to get your thoughts down, but you’ll really be filling this out through the formulation process.
- Then do your Market Research, Secondary first because then you be intelligible enough about the market to do some damage in the Primary interviews part.
- Secondary – canned reports or come up with reports from available online sources (Analyze and process this information to death)
- Primary – Voice of the Customer (VOC). This means interviews with:
- Get to know your competition with environmental scans or PEST analyses. This means really look at what products you offer and compare to what products they offer and look at what markets they are targeting and compare to what markets you are targeting
- Pick your Positioning. Where do you want to be with respect to your competition; what is the biggest two value propositions you want to offer and how strong do you want to offer them. This is basically the one thing that you will preach that you do better than anyone else.
- Then do Marketing Segmentation
- Job Title
- New or Upgrade
- Company Size
- New or Repeat Customer
- Pick a Target Market from your Market Segmentation
- Develop a Customer Profile – Yes, you need to do a deep psychological, socioeconomic profile even if you think it’s stupid or “fluffy” because your sales people will be able to look at a prospect and “profile” whether they will be a good customer or not and be able to prioritize their time accordingly
- Then do an Ansoff Matrix. Pick out what your situation is or what you want it to be. This is also know as GROWTH STRATEGIES.
- Pick how you want to go to market with Porter’s Generic Strategies. This should be pretty simple because you should know from your historical supply chain and operations financials whether you can be a cost leader or not, then you have to pick whether you’re going to differentiate broadly meaning without focusing on a particular market sub-segment or not.
- Then do some serious planning of marketing tactics with Marketing Warfare.
- Now you are getting to the meat of marketing tactics with the 4 P’s (even though they are up to 7 or 8P’s now I stick with the basic 4P’s)
- Product (this is a HUGE topic, but won’t go into it all today)
- Product Portfolio Management
- Derived from Customer Profile and Needs of Customer
- New Product Development (NPD)
- Special Pricing (much more important in B2C than B2B which is why I don’t have as much to talk about here)
- Place (Distribution)
- Sales Process
- Sales Training
- Create Customer Lists (probably already done when you did Market Research)
- Develop Unique Selling Propositions
- Develop Product-Feature-Benefit
Second top priority after Sales Messaging in the next P category – Promotion
- Sales Messaging
- Test the Market. This is the new “thought-leadership” stuff I talked about. Do lots of test landing pages with A/B testing to fine tune your message
Sales Messaging is SUPER important, if you don’t create a strong message all of your work here is pointless
- Trade Shows (B2B)
- Content – Blog (the key missing “link” that people don’t get between getting on the first google search page and “traditional marketing”)
old school, but necessary, don’t do anything more advanced than this before you do this, yes, even before a website – do the digital, industry magazines, brochures etc FIRST
- SEO (you need a website, a blog on your website to accept backlinks, and social media to drive your backlinks in order to get on the first page of google)
- Social Media
- Marketing Automation (more advanced but becoming vital pretty quickly)
- Viral Shock Marketing (untested but interesting)
- Viral Marketing (same as viral shock, but a little bit more studied)
- News Jacking (controversial, but effective)
- PR (best way for a start-up to market)
Evaluation and Control
- Change Management
Change Management is the MOST important thing you will ever understand about business in your life