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Fail to plan or plan to fail?
So, you’ve done what you are supposed to do. Your strategic marketing plan is in place and you’re ready to go, right?
Wrong. There can be several reasons for strategy failure.(Don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to scare the life out of you here). Hopefully by answering these issues, we can help you to be super prepared, and super efficient.
Knowing the realities of your environment
The first of these reasons relates to the external environment. Do you know it well enough? Are there changes on the horizon that will affect it? What will your competitors do next? If you can’t answer these questions then your research and knowledge needs to include that information.
A strategy that does not match the realities of your environment – or the results of in-depth research – is asking to fail. Many companies do not invest enough time or effort into learning about customer needs, competitor capabilities, potential new entrants into the market or emerging technological trends – both in and outside of their industry. In addition, any industry-specific changes such as new technologies appearing on the scene have the potential to wreak havoc on your strategy, objectives and plans.
Overly complex goals
Once you have gathered all of this information you are ready to start building your strategy to success. Always ask yourself – is yours a strategy that is overly complex or has unrealistic goals? If your plan is too complex and is not easy to understand or communicate, its execution will be impacted. Simplicity of outcome really is the ultimate sophistication.
Don’t panic, this might not all be down to you. Hands up if you have worked within a company that puts objectives and targets in place, but does not provide the budget, time or people and skills to accomplish them? In today’s climate, this is a common issue.
If your objectives are over reaching and your budget stretched beyond recognition, then your strategy needs to address this. Whilst it’s important to have contingency and agility built into your plan as standard, you should try to avoid tinkering with it for tinkering’s sake. Think Moscow… no not a holiday (albeit needed). The planning technique; Must, Should, Could, Won’t (the ‘o’s’ are silent).
This acronym is all about setting your objectives into those that are priorities (Must, Should), alongside items that may be considered desirable but not necessary (Could) and those that the stakeholders have agreed, but that will not be implemented until any priorities have been released (Won’t). Using this to help plan your strategy will hopefully help you to meet your objectives and manage expectations at the same time.
Finally, if you want leaders in your company not to execute your strategy, the best way to ensure this is to not include them in developing it. Not involving them is also a good method of ensuring you lack key information about your company’s and your competitors’ abilities. Obviously, it’s something you want to avoid.
It’s the same with your team; if they don’t know the state of play, they certainly won’t be able to help execute your strategy effectively. This all leads to friction; miscommunication, errors, confusion, long working hours – is this a familiar picture? Getting everyone involved from the very beginning might seem daunting…especially when inevitably, your beautifully planned strategy needs a tweak here and there along the way.