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Strategic planning is an organizational management activity. The company’s CEO and senior leadership team are tasked with creating a strategic plan, it’s one of their responsibilities.
The goal of a strategic plan is to provide you with a roadmap to align the organization’s functional activities to achieve set goals and determine the direction in which you want to take your business.
The plan outlines what (resources), how (specific tools, activities, platforms etc) and why (the reasons behind your choice of a specific resource or tool) the company will use to achieve its goals.
The main goal of the strategic plan you create for your business is to define how your business differentiates itself from the competition.
What activities is your business performing that are different from the activities performed by your competitors?. Or what activities that are similar to your competitors’ you perform differently?
Harvard professor and author of Porter’s 5 Forces Michael Porter defines strategy as “performing different activities from others or performing similar activities in a different manner.”
Twilight series actress Nikki Reed designs beautiful jewellery. Her collections include 14-18 karat gold pieces. As opposed to other jewellery designers, her collections are made from e-waste.
Nikki’s business goal is to produce jewellery that is ethically made, sustainable and chemical-free. To achieve her goal, she partnered with computer technology company Dell.
According to the latest stats, it is estimated that our smartphones contain more than $60 million in gold and/or silver which are thrown away every year. Dell has developed a process for extracting gold from old computer motherboards that is 99% more environmentally friendly than extracting gold from the earth.
That’s how Nikki Reed differentiates her business from competitors: by using gold responsibly extracted from recovered technology to make beautiful jewellery. See her collections.
A strategic plan is for established businesses looking to grow by providing them with focus, direction and action. Whereas a business plan is for businesses starting out and provides the entrepreneur with a structure for his ideas defining the business.
A strategic plan generally covers a period of 3 to 5+ years, whereas a business plan is normally no more than one year.
No matter how much you wished your business had no competition on the market, your competitors are not going away just because you wish them to.
What you could do, after a thorough analysis of your business, the market and your competition is to devise a strategy that would help your business achieve its goals by doing things differently.
By having a strategic plan in place the top management conveys trust to the company’s employees.
A clear path to achieving set business goals means the team is more likely to enjoy an increased level of focus, determination and creativity.
Success is more easily achievable when everyone knows what to do and how to do it.
Before going into the strategic planning process, the CEO and top management have to be clear on the company’s vision, mission and organizational goals and objectives.
The CEO or founder is responsible for creating the vision and formulating the mission. The business vision states why you do it while the business mission states what your company does to achieve its vision.
The vision statement provides a snapshot of what the world would look like as a result of the company’s services. The mission statement is the roadmap for the company’s vision statement.
Let’s look at the vision and mission statements of a number of companies whose products and services you might use on a daily basis.
Vision – To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
Mission – Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Vision – We aim to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.
Mission – Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximize their success.
Vision – Salesforce is the world’s #1 customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
Mission – We bring companies and customers together. We help your marketing, sales, commerce, service and IT teams work as one from anywhere — so you can keep your customers happy everywhere.
Vision – TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video.
Mission – Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.
A company’s vision and mission are not set in stone. Your business may transform as a result of technological developments or customer behaviour changes. For this reason, it is important to revisit the company’s vision and mission and amend them if necessary.
Before anything else, it is important to get updated on the current status of your business.
Perform a SWOT analysis to see if there are changes in your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Are there new threats looming over the business ushered in by the pandemic?
Can you turn a new threat into an opportunity?
How is the pandemic affecting your bottom line?
Next, apply PORTER’s 5 Forces framework to your industry to evaluate how the pandemic is influencing the drivers of profitability and competition in your market. Get your team together and discuss what valuable insights you can take away from this analysis. How could these insights help you come up with a specific and unique way in which to delight your customers today?
PESTEL is another great tool that you can use to understand the impact of macro-environmental factors on your business. The PESTEL acronym stands for Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal.
How are these factors that you cannot influence, affecting your business?
Once you have drawn relevant insights from your company and business market analysis, you can move to step 2 of the strategic plan: development.
Sit down together with your team and write the strategic plan.
Include the following:
Now that you have the strategic plan on paper it’s time to execute it.
But before that, you need to communicate your plan to the employees that are going to implement it.
Choose the best way to do that. Is it a lengthy email? Or an all-hands meeting?
Prepare yourself to answer questions and convey your vision as clearly as possible.
You might also need to provide inspiration and motivation.
Determine when to review the strategic plan over the course of the implementation and go back to the plan to update it if necessary: 3 months? 6 months?
Once the strategic plan has been executed, it’s time for evaluation and measurement.
Extract the results and measure them against your set projections.
Calculate the KPIs and ROI.
Did the strategic plan help your business to achieve its set objectives?
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In this article:
PESTEL business analysis is a framework for helping entrepreneurs and business people to understand the impact of macro-environmental factors on their business.
The PESTEL acronym stands for
The PESTEL analysis was created in 1967 by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar.
Yes, PESTEL, PESTEL and STEEPLE refer to the same business framework. The only difference is that the letters are switched between them. In the case of STEEPLE, the additional E stands for Ethics.
PESTEL is the second strategic tool for decision-making we are highlighting on the BRAND MINDS blog.
Our mission is to help you acquire relevant knowledge that will support you to make good business decisions. Learn how to grow your business with PORTER’S 5 Forces framework.
The factors analyzed by the PESTEL framework refer to the macro-environment of your business. Not to be confused with the external factors of your business.
Let’s think of your business as the Earth.
The Earth is made up of four layers: the inner core, the outer core, the mantle and the crust.
The inner core of your business is comprised of your business’s organizational structure, culture, employees, management and operations. They are the internal factors.
The next layer surrounding your business is the outer core: competitors, suppliers, distributors, customers and partners. They are the external factors. These factors and your business are in a two-way relationship – they influence each other. If you want to assess how much power your competitors or your buyers have on your business, apply PORTER’S 5 Forces framework. You will get a map of the industry your business operates in as well as the structural underlining drivers of profitability and competition.
The third layer of your business comes over the external factors and it’s called the macro-environment. The macro-environment includes the factors listed earlier in the article: political, economical, social, technological, environmental, legal.
Unlike the external factors, which your business can influence, the macro-environmental factors are outside the influence range of your business. But they do have the power to effect change on your business.
PESTEL analysis – Political factor
The political factor helps you appraise the degree to which a government intervenes in the economy or a certain industry.
Look at how current, past, and future regulations currently affect the market in which your business operates.
Also, take into account whether or not there is political stability and what are the consequences of political instability over your business.
Is there corruption? What are foreign trade and tax policies?
PESTEL analysis – Economical factor
The economical factor is the determinant of the economy’s performance.
Examine the economic growth, exchange rates, interest rates, unemployment rates, the state of the country’s infrastructure, taxes.
This factor affects the purchasing power of your customers and could change the demand and supply dynamics of the market. This, in turn, affects how your business prices its products and services.
PESTEL analysis – Social factor
The social factor analyzes the profile and behaviour patterns of your customers. In marketing, it’s called a buyer persona.
Gather as much information on the social aspect of your market as possible from standard demographics (age, sex, family status, professional background, education) to psychographics (pain points, dreams, goals, interests and hobbies).
Become aware of cultural differences between generations.
Is there a cultural movement that your customers are supporting? What are their values, customs and lifestyle choices? Which social media platform do they use the most?
PESTEL analysis – Technological factor
Fifty-three years ago, when PESTEL was created, technology didn’t have the essential impact on the business and our world as a whole as it does today. But there were early signs. In 1967, the first message was sent over the internet and the GPS became available for commercial use.
Taking into account the way technology has been disrupting industries and changing business models in the last decade, this factor is one of the most important to look into.
Put together a list of the technologies impacting your industry.
Check the regulations surrounding technology in your market. Are they favourable or not favourable?
What is the rate of technological change and innovation? Is the industry dominated by automation? How costly is it?
PESTEL analysis – Environmental factor
As with the technological factor, the environmental factor is today of growing importance.
Businesses are now called to account for any negative impact their operations have on the environment.
Companies big and small are expected to reduce their carbon footprint, take actions to reduce waste and pollution, and preserve the environment.
How is your business affecting the environment? What can you change to make sure your business is sustainable and environmentally responsible?
PESTEL analysis – Legal factor
The legal factor of PESTEL analysis looks into the laws and regulations of your industry.
Is your market regulated by a specific set of laws? How do they influence your business?
Also take into account other laws like discrimination, antitrust, employment, consumer protection and copyright laws.
If you’re thinking about launching a new business, entering a foreign market or a different industry, PESTEL analysis framework is especially useful because it gives you an accurate overview of the macro-environment and how it affects your business.
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Let’s talk about each of them.
If a stranger approached you in the street offering to be your friend would you accept? I can’t speak for you but I’m sure my answer would be I can’t be friends with someone I don’t know.
It’s the same with your brand: why do expect your customers to buy your products if they are not aware of your brand? That’s why brand awareness is an essential part of brand building. Brand awareness is a process leading to sales. The first stage of an effective sales funnel is awareness followed by interest, decision and action.
Brand awareness is also an ongoing process. Coca-Cola is the leading global soft drinks company and has been on the market for 128 years. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t drunk a bottle of Coke in their life or is unable to recognize the brand’s iconic logo. This happens thanks to the company investing billions of dollars in campaigns. More precisely, $4 billion each year since 2015 to market its drinks to consumers around the world. If the company didn’t commit to this goal of maintaining and increasing brand awareness year after year, it would quickly lose the top spot and market share.
So how do you increase your brand’s awareness? It certainly helps to have a big budget but that’s not everything.
Let’s explore ways that you can increase awareness for your brand!
Share of voice
Marketing effectiveness expert Les Binet recommends that brands should run both sales activation and brand building campaigns but tweak the balance to 75% brand building and 25% activation.
Binet’s research found that sales activation delivers short-term sales volume while brand-building campaigns lead to long-term growth and higher sales volumes. Learn about brand awareness and why SOV (share of voice) is important for your brand (with examples).
As a business owner, you are competing with other businesses in your market for the attention of your customer base. What if you took a different approach and choose to build brand partnerships instead of competing with each other?
Here are 9 benefits of brand partnerships:
If you decide that partnering is a good strategy for your company, there are factors you need to consider for a successful brand partnership before you draft your first contract.
Standing up for your brand’s values
Brands are no longer setting the pace for its consumers. In fact, it’s the other way around – consumers have the upper hand over brands.
Over the past few years, consumer behaviour reports have highlighted this fact: it’s important for consumers to see their favourite brands act on their beliefs and values.
A 2018 study from Shelton Group found that 86% of consumers want brands to take a stand on social issues and said they’d purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.
There are many examples of big brands taking a stand on social issues and receiving praise from the public (Nike’s Dream Crazy, UK supermarket chain Iceland and its Say Hello to Rang-tan ad, Barbie’s Close the dream gap) while other brands are facing backlash for failing to engage with their customers’ needs and expectations and their outdated marketing (Victoria’s Secret).
Email marketing done right outperforms social media in terms of reach, CTR, conversion rate and ROI.
And by outperforming ROI I mean 42:1 which means for every dollar spent, your company’s return is 42 dollars.
To get this high of an ROI, you need to focus on the words done right.
First, make sure you don’t make these 5 email marketing mistakes and second, update your buyer’s persona especially at the pain points and dreams categories.
What stands between them and their goals? What are they dreaming to achieve? What do they need to meet their objectives? Find out what they need and give it to them.
Of course, your email marketing strategy should include sales-focused emails, but maintain a balance between promotional content and non-promotional content. If you don’t know what that balance is, you can start with the 80-20 rule of thumb: 20% sales content and 80% empowering content.
Once you have identified what empowering content looks like for your customers, invest your resources into designing the ways in which to deliver that content. Infographics, video, expert quotes, listicles, how-tos, links to in-depth articles etc.
Find a way in line with your brand goals to reward your most engaged subscribers.
Also, create the opportunity for your subscribers to get to know each other. The end objective of your email marketing strategy is to empower your subscribers individually and transform them into a community.
In 2018, marketing software provider Hubspot said goodbye to the marketing funnel and hello to the customer flywheel.
The shift happened when the company noticed that customers were purchasing HubSpot products after they have been recommended by their friends, already HubSpot customers.
The situation was that word of mouth was selling HubSpot products instead of the company’s marketing efforts.
The customer flywheel is not a funnel but a process where customers feed growth. The Customer Flywheel leverages the enthusiasm of existing customers and turns it into a driving force for attracting new customers.
What makes the flywheel spin faster and faster? Increased force and reduced friction. The more force with less friction applies to the flywheel, the faster it spins.
Once the flywheel gains momentum, it can spin forever with little effort from the company. Momentum comes from retaining customers and transforming them into brand ambassadors leading to increased customer retention and brand loyalty.
A referral program is a word-of-mouth marketing tactic that encourages customers to advocate on behalf of your brand.
The purpose of a referral program is to attract new leads. Compared to other lead generation tactics, the leads that referral programs generate are better because their profile is more likely to match that of your customers.
This means more qualified leads and less time and resources used by your company to nurture and engage them.
Referral programs have higher chances to succeed because they leverage the power of peer-to-peer marketing and one of Cialdini’s Principles of Influence: social proof. The social proof principle states that people will look to the actions of others to determine their own. Man is by nature a social animal: we are influenced by our environment and our friends.
Statistics support this: 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33% trust ads (Nielsen).
Thomas Cook was the world’s first travel agency, one of the leading companies in the leisure travel industry present in 17 countries, owned an airline and operated thousands of hotels around the world.
In 2019, Thomas Cook ceased its operations leaving around 600,000 tourists overseas including 150,000 British citizens. It was the UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation.
One of the reasons that led to Thomas Cook’s failure was this: the company missed the opportunity to include Millennials among its customers.
When Millennials entered the market, it was obvious that the market had to change. The Millennials would rather take more short trips i.e. city breaks throughout the year rather than one big vacation package. Also, Millennials behaved differently than their parents or grandparents in that they planned their own itineraries, used digital tools (like Airbnb or Booking.com), focused on transformational experiences and were influenced by social media or user-generated content (source).
The company failed to acknowledge this change in behaviour and adapt its offer to cater to the needs of this new type of customer. This and other factors contributed to the failure of Thomas Cook.
Does your company use social media as a marketing channel? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.
According to the latest statistics, 77.6% of small businesses report using social media to promote their businesses.
What would your company do if Facebook, Instagram or YouTube suddenly disappeared?
That’s right, all your efforts would have been in vain. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t use any social media channels for your company. Only that you shouldn’t invest all your resources in them.
What you should do is invest a large portion of your resources into driving traffic to your website. Remember that social media platforms are rented space whereas your website is owned, you control what happens in your house.
To increase your website traffic consider featuring guest content on your company blog.
Guest content is a great way to expand your reach and increase brand awareness.
In order to achieve this goal, it’s essential that you choose the right contributing authors for your brand.
Whoever you choose, note that your brand will be associated with that particular contributor.
Make sure that your brand’s values are aligned with your contributor’s values.
And most importantly: the best guest content contributor is the one that your audience follows organically.
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“Instead of jumping directly to decisions or solutions for problems, the critical thinking helps you to make decisions through objective evaluation and analysis of problems and ideas. This can be achieved through a thinking methodology that goes through three phases; observing the current situation, ask questions to clearly define the problem, and find solutions based on the answers to the questions. This thinking methodology helps to build a coherent strategic thinking approach by addressing the different aspects of the problem through addressing the situation from different perspectives,” writes Designorate.
2. Being analytical
Always questioning and thinking in-depth helps you create the best strategy for the brand, finding the best insights possible and knowing your target better. Moreover, the people working in strategic planning need to be able to analyze and evaluate a company’s business plan. They have to be skilled in market analysis, feasibility analysis, and more. Only through an analytical eye can strategic planners decide what steps need to be taken by a company.
3. Attention to details & 4. Good observation
These two skills go hand-in-hand. To be able to make a good assessment of the situation and analyse the facts,one needs to be able to pay really good attention to details and,therefore, be a good observer. Knowing what happens on the market with other brands,local and international, but also what the competition you aspire at does,it essential in your brand positioning and finding your perfect niche and communication path.
It’s important to know the big picture but, at the same time, to be able and find what differentiates you and makes your brand unique.
5. Being open to suggestions and discussions
Nobody on this earth is the holder of the forever and perfect truth, all the time. Sometimes, being to close to a certain situation or business can make one be too subjective and not see or not wanting to see some important aspects can be essential to the business’ well-being. One needs a broader understanding of the situation from different perspectives. This involves being open-minded and willing to listen to other opinions, even if they don’t share the same ideas as you. Therefore, the success can be reached by opening the dialog between all the stakeholders to share their ideas about the project during the meetings.
6. Decision making
Being able to make the final decision, especially when it’s a hard one, it’s essential in a brand/business’ life. The right person knows when to draw the line and decide.
The people having this skill recognize the opportunity to revise their plans as needed. They have an inner ability to be proactive and anticipate change, rather than being reactive to changes after they occur. They are not afraid to take chances and work over-time,when needed. Instead of being stuck in an idea or strategy that is simply not working or follow the plan as established without looking around, they know how to seize the opportunity.
8. Being a motivational factor for the team
9. Being perceptive
“Great strategic thinkers will listen, hear and understand what is said and will read and observe whatever they can so that they will have very helpful and strategic information to guide them. Strategic thinkers often have those \”Ah Ha\” experiences while on vacation, walking, sitting and relaxing or during many other activities because they see or hear something that resonates and because they are so aware and perceptive,” wrote Robert Bradford for cssp.com.
10. Having vision
One gets nowhere without the power to see ahead,to have a vision for the brand/ the business/ the company.
According to fastcompany.com, women entrepreneurs are the fastest-growing segment of business owners in the U.S. But, compared to male-owned businesses, women-owned businesses generally fail at a higher rate, employ fewer people and generate less revenue. The reasons for the disparity are complicated and varied: difficulty in accessing capital, entrenched social norms, and differences in the industries male- and female-owned businesses tend to cluster are a few of the reasons behind the imbalance.
We are focusing on the positive and are determined to offer you some pieces of advice that we are sure will help you along the way.
Be bold. Be elegant.
One of the many advantages that women have other men in business is their ability to be bold and elegant, at the same time. Of having the courage to say what they think, openly, but beautifully. Their strengths, presented in a very elegant manner, makes them special and powerful. Likewise, loved by their employees.
Here’s a common trap founders fall into: gain users at any cost. Often, they chase after daily active users, monthly active users and retention numbers. “They believe that appealing to every customer is one way of solving these problems,” says Julie Supan, who has counseled Airbnb, Dropbox and Thumbtack on branding. That’s the wrong approach, Supan cautions. Instead, focus on the high-expectation customer (HXC). She’s your ideal user, “the most discerning person within your target demographic. It’s someone who will acknowledge — and enjoy — your product or service for its greatest benefit,” Supan says. “If your product exceeds her expectations, it can meet everyone else’s.” The HXC serves as a valuable touchstone to ensure that you’re growing in the right direction and to validate — or invalidate — your action plan.
The deeper the context, the better the advice
Advice givers should always reframe questions to orient around the advice seeker, not their own expertise. And, after offering a spread of data points as context, advice seekers should always ask what they should do next.
Invest in people
Your employees are the best power you have after your own and the gem of your business. They will be the ones helping you achieve the success.
There is benefit to failure
Barbara Corcoran, the famous investor from the hit show Shark Tank once said “My best successes came on the heels of failures.” This is a powerful lesson for any aspiring business owner, as most of today’s most established entrepreneurs have been faced with countless failures. The importance of dealing with failure is that you need to be able to learn from the failure, dust yourself off and move on, even if you deal with consistent failure.
Never be afraid to follow your passion
Debbie Fields, the creator of Mrs. Fields, said “what I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world I did best.” This motivated the entrepreneur to follow her passion for cooking, even when others didn’t believe it could turn into the success it is today.
You have to believe in what you are doing
Estee Lauder, founder of the famed makeup brand said “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” Believing in the product and service that you are selling is the first and most important component of being a successful entrepreneur. Without a firm belief in what you are doing, you will never be able to find the success that you deserve, no matter how hard you work. You must believe in the company you have and work relentlessly to sell that idea to the world, making them believe in it as much as you do.
Big achievements are possible
Entrepreneur and iconic mogul Martha Stewart claimed that “it is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO.” Years of gender bias have left some women not dreaming big enough with their professional aspirations. Stewart’s quote drives the point home in saying that everyone has the ability to earn this type of title, if they are willing to do the work. Dreaming big and visualizing yourself in a big role is one of the best ways to get started on a journey towards being a successful entrepreneur.
Taking risks is important
Lillian Vernon, founder of Lillian Vernon Corporation, once said: “I don’t look at risk the way other people do. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to go in feeling like you’re going to be successful.” When Vernon started her company she was married and pregnant, and heard from so many people that starting her corporation was a risk, but it was one she was willing to take. Sometimes, a little risk has to be involved if you want to see the big payoff in the end.
Tell a visual story
Melanie Abrantes, designer, believes that the most important thing about selling your product online is to make sure that the images of your product are able to tell the full story. “Since people won’t be able to see it in person, they have to imagine what the product is going to look like in that setting. When you have professional photography involved, you are able to create a life for that product.”
The means don’t justify the end
The author and icon Gloria Steinem considers that the ends do not always justify the means, in business or in life. “In the end, the who you are is much more important than the what you are. And as beings who need social interaction to survive, the value in who you are while getting to where you’re going is everything. The means will always become the ends,” said Steinem, quoted by billboard.com.
Doubt is your biggest enemy
Trust in yourself and you will do just great. Don’t let anyone plant you doubts when your gusts it’s telling you something. Keep positive people around you that will influence you in a great way.
Celebrate every important step and victory
Make sure you embrace everything good that happens in your business. Don’t sell short your victories and try and enjoy each one of them. Success is not easy to come by and all your efforts and dedication deserve the party.
Keep in mind the big picture
Don’t get frustrated easily or become unhappy just because of some small step backs. Remember the big picture, what you want to accomplish, your main goals. They are the real deal.
A HOLIDAY GIFT FOR A MINDSET LIFT
Get at least 2 tickets to BRAND MINDS 2023 to enter the challengeLearn More