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It’s always interesting to ask a marketer about the strategic plan for their company. The conversation is typically a rapid-fire dialog of digital activations and brand deployments until I utter those magic words: Strategic plan.

At that point, very often, silence.

It’s amazing how many companies don’t have them, or if they do, they don’t refer to them often enough as a critical touchstone, a kind of roadmap to get them to their destination. What’s more, if they have a plan, they may fail to infuse it into the work culture and minds of those who are responsible for implementing it.

The largest consulting firm in the world once came to me with a request. They wanted ideas to get all 240,000 professionals in lockstep — knowledgeable and aware of their company’s strategy and goals, and in sync with the tactics to drive growth. It was brilliant. They had a plan and they wanted everyone in the company to know about it.

IR-CaseStudy-Outlook-13Shown here are a few examples of ideas we generated for that project. We brainstormed and presented concepts for everything from viral games to a private employee-access, campaign website. The site was simple. Essentially, it was an “all-in” approach to achieving the mission and meeting targets for revenue. The idea was to engage, inform, and inspire: Share the strategy and facilitate a participation-based culture with leadership insights so that everyone had clear marching orders. We wanted to set a winning stage for the professionals and consultants who worked to deliver on existing accounts and who also led the front-line charge for new business.

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For another company working in data and analytics, we created a “Value Proposition Playbook.” Each year, it was updated and handed out at the annual sales conference. In the book, sales teams were armed with the latest information on their prospects, industry news and trends, and the competitive landscape. In a quick, easy snapshot, they received their company’s unique value propositions for each industry served, along with scripted messaging for every pitch. It was published online with strict credentials, but made easily accessible so that only sales professionals could obtain the information however, whenever, and wherever they needed it.

Keeping everyone on the beam is more relevant now than ever before. We’re given an increasingly complex, confusing matrix of hundreds — and in some cases, even thousands — of opportunities for expressing our product or service. There’s a tendency to just populate as much branded “stuff” as possible over as many social or digital venues as possible. Imagine how powerful a company might be if it opened for business each day with a smart, well-vetted strategy, a consensus-built plan that is grounded in research. Now, imagine that the plan is communicated clearly in a simple, fun, engaging way to the teams charged with making it work.

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Think of the benefits of optimizing your own marketing, identifying ineffective practices and tools and purging them, and truly getting down to the business of being operationally aligned to convert new business and compete at maximum impact every day. Consider having the entire workforce passionately committed with pride, purpose, and a sense of mission — a coordinated, unified force, fluent in the philosophy and hooked into the goals.

Before you call the next meeting to discuss business-as-usual, take a breath and slow down. Is there a three-year strategy for the company? Are you absolutely clear on the disruptive challenges your company is facing, the opportunities that are emerging, and do you have a smart tactical roadmap for achieving your defined goals?

Are you applying the right channels with the right messaging that resonate across all segmentations of audience? Is your positioning sharp and differentiated among all competitors?

Perhaps most importantly, is everyone in the company aware of the plan. . . and are they on board?

 

• Related articles:

Harvard Business Review / A Simple Way to Test Your Company’s Strategic Alignment