Marketing Mojo: Use strategy to gain a competitive edge for your business

February 9, 2023 -  By
(Photo: marchmeena29/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: marchmeena29/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Few business owners are comfortable articulating the difference between strategy and planning. As the phrase strategic planning suggests, the two are closely related. Yet, understanding the distinction is vitally important for achieving your company goals and objectives.

Strategy is a set of specific choices that define how you plan to win as a company. The future is uncertain, but every company gets to choose how it will gain its competitive advantage. Typical advantages leverage quality, service and pricing. Variables to consider for choosing yours should include:

  •  Your strengths; 
  • Ideal customers;
  • The competition;
  • Industry trends; and
  • Economic factors.

Strategy is an inquiry process that asks targeted questions, including:

  • Where are our competitors weak?
  • Would buyers pay for a better way?
  • Can our solution grow revenue and margin?

Think of strategy as a puzzle whose solution enhances the value proposition for customers. That solution’s focus separates it from planning initiatives, such as getting close to customers. Once your team approves the strategy, the planning cycle can begin allocating resources to support its execution.

Strategy unites and focuses teams 

To have the greatest chance of creating a winning strategy, you must assess all the market conditions and ask if your strategy can support them. You can only estimate the size of the segment of new customers you expect to capture. The critical success factor often turns out to be execution. Managers often say, “I’ll take first-rate execution of a second-rate strategy over poor execution of a brilliant strategy every time.”

My residential design/build company faced this challenge when we rolled out our innovative design strategy. It turned out our strategy’s winning distinction was more than innovative designs. Its greatest strength proved to be carefully planned execution. It put homeowners at ease by bringing transparency to the choices necessary for buying high-end residential landscaping, such as determining realistic budgets.

Your strategy is a focusing tool that guides the actions of the people who execute it. It should empower them to confidently take action, regardless of the day-to-day circumstances they may encounter. We accomplished this by training designers and project managers on how their execution of our system promised exceptional value for clients.

Over time we became known for our unique process, how it worked and why it differentiated us from our competitors. This approach attracted buyers interested in a greater attention to detail and a uniquely personalized experience.

The greatest strategy challenges for owners and managers are the inherent uncertainties and risks of abandoning the status quo. The trade-off is this: A strategy’s singular focus is invaluable for empowering team members in ways that planning and financial targets cannot.

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