Strategy or no strategy, that’s the question

Nowadays many people are asking why time should be lost at writing or even thinking about strategies: nobody reads them and sooner rather than later if not directly, they will find their way to the bin. Well, the simple answer here is that most of the people simply don’t understand what a strategy is and what it does. Not only is a strategy an ideal way to put your thoughts into a structured framework and make them more tangible; no, it also gives you a powerful tool at hand that will help you sell your ideas and plans in a very professional and successful manner.

Let me explain this to you: imagine you are asked to drive a new product launch and all you have are highly interesting and valid but loosely tied bits and pieces of your product managers, your marketing people and your engineers. How are you going to convince your customers – let alone your internal stakeholders who are first on the list to be aligned – of the added value of your product if there is no thread, no thoroughly reflected and grounded path and no story? Well, it’s difficult…

On the other hand, even if every single milestone you undertake while writing a strategy, will confront you inevitably with new questions, issues and problems, this will only allow you to dig deeper and to find out the true value proposition that will create the ‘wow’ effect in your customer’s eyes. So yes, time consuming it is, but in the end, the outcome rewards all efforts!

Let’s take a quick look at how a strategic document could be structured (only general categories are reproduced here, in practice, many more of course exist):

1. Current Situation/Background

2. Alignment to Global or Segment Strategy

4. General Objectives (qualitative/quantitative)

3. Specific Objectives

– Long term objectives (could be external or internal)

– Short term objectives (could be external or internal)

4. Target Markets and Audiences

5. Analysis of competition (how are they positioned, how do they communicate?)

6. Communication Plan (including the appropriate comms. vehicles and key messages)

7. Evaluating Success

8. Tactical calendar

9. Budget

If you follow this simple guideline also involving if possible your mangers in the thought process (this obviously includes summarizing and structuring what you have received from your colleagues or reaching out to them), you will have all the pre-requisites for a successful launch, introduction or campaign. Not only will you generate the buzz and buy-in you need internally to get things done, but your external appearance on the market will also be a true experience and hence a success. Try it and you won’t be disappointed!