I saw this question posted in a Linked In Forum which I follow and having read the responses from various contributors thought I would contribute my thoughts.
Here is what I wrote:
I think in many ways the word can be mis-used in the same way as many others such as proposition or segment or strapline are.
If I think about what a business needs to do to maximise its success (whatever success might be for that business owner – not always financial) the development of a strategy (the how) needs to the product of strategic planning process in which many environmental factors are considered and examined. Through insight into these factors, strategic decisions about the direction of the business are made.
In its purest sense – and this is why I feel strategic marketing has a crucial role to play in strategic planning – products and services are developed by a business in response to the identification of a specific need by a specific tight group of customers or a segment.
Many businesses already exist though and are making product without having fully:
- identified their target segments
- understanding who is supplying and attempting to satisfy those customers needs
- defining what their competitive strategy will be and how they will gain a competitive advantage and traction with that target group
- considered through what channels they can access those customers.
This thinking is what is missing in many businesses and in many ways informs and shapes the Vision of the business leader. I don’t put too much weight to the thought that someone has a vision when they wake up one morning.
Many times invention is a truly selfish act, in that someone creates a product or service because they wish something that affects them personally was done better.
Often though an idea such as Hotmail or the Dyson vaccuum cleaner stand up to an examination that there is a demand because the product solves an issue that is real within a segment or sgements of consumers.
Of course I do not suggest that this marketing element is the only element within strategic planning, obviously there are financial, and resource issues to consider and plan etc but for me so many businesses fail to fulfil their true potential because they haven’t truly gained insight into why they are doing what they are doing, and for whom.
To come back to the question – what is strategy and does it matter?
The strategic plan outlines the strategy … and yes it is crucial to focus the solopreneur and everyone within a larger corporate on what they are trying to achieve and what is expected of everyone so that the business can ensure it all moves in the same direction.
In my business, my role is to make a business more successfull through the development of effective marketing communications. Those communications will be most effective when there has been a proper consideration of the bullet points above. Often I work through those and complete that strategic thinking with businesses.
Do you feel you can truly answer those questions above? If you can’t then why not get in touch and take advantage of a free first meeting in which we can get to know each other more and discuss how I make a significant positive impact on your business.