Marketing Mojo: One strategy question your business needs to know

(Photo: Kwanchanok Taen-on / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)
(Photo: Kwanchanok Taen-on / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

It’s that time of the year when strategic plans are tested. Now that peak season is on the horizon, team members may be losing faith. This is a problem when you need everyone fully committed to a unified strategy.

Most strategies fail for a couple of reasons:

  • They aren’t strategies at all but are instead tactics or plans with no strategic basis. For example, increasing sales calls to boost revenue is merely a tactic based on hope.
  • The success criteria or conditions have not been identified. How can you hit a new target when you don’t know how to get there?

A strategy assesses market conditions to shape a plan for creating a future reality, one that you believe gives your business an advantage. Your competitors may be able to copy it, but you will reap the rewards of being first.

How to determine your strategy

Begin your strategy process by assessing variables such as customers, competitors, and your company’s position within that mix. Then, imagine the possibilities that would give your company an edge and quantify that advantage.

Now consider the one most important question of all: What would have to be true?

Ask what would have to be true to determine the necessary conditions for your strategy to work. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Awareness: Buyers must know who we are.
  2. Value proposition: They must understand the benefits of our offer.
  3. Incentive: They must need or want the new service.
  4. Investment: They must know how much it costs.

The conditions — and there will likely be more — will either prove or disprove your strategy. They will serve you well in the future too, such as when your website is updated and the question of whether to include pricing is raised.

This is the time to encourage the naysayers on your team to voice their concerns. Once you are confident everyone has bought in, you can move on to planning your strategy’s implementation.

To be clear, strategy comes before planning and implementation. I suggest erasing “strategic planning” from your vocabulary because strategy, planning and implementation are distinct activities.

A real-life hypothetical case study

Regular readers of Landscape Management are familiar with Mariani Premier Group. While I have no inside information about how this organization was formed, I have no doubt it followed a strategic process of imagining the possibilities.

Let’s hypothetically assume Mariani Landscaping was considering how to grow or accelerate its track record of growth. The possibility of growing through acquisitions must have been considered.

I imagine that discussion could have raised these possibilities.

Have residential mergers ever been done in this industry?

  • Maybe a few companies, but not at scale.

What if it’s not a roll-up or merger, what could that look like?

  • The member companies operate independently.

How would that dilute or amplify our brand?

  • We share our systems and learn from our members.

The one thing we know about strategy is that, like marketing, it’s never done. Mariani Premier Group is likely the product of years of study and iteration. Your company may be working at a smaller scale, but your strategy deserves equal attention.

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan is the owner of True Nature Marketing, a Naples, Fla.-based company helping entrepreneurs grow. Reach him at jeff@truenature.com. Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms.

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