The gap between strategy and execution can be huge. For some companies it can seem Grand Canyon wide, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We laugh at the phrase “ready, fire, aim”, yet this is what happens all too often. Part of the problem is that people confuse strategies and tactics. The line between the two has become blurred. And there is no doubt that the urgency to make revenue goals have made most businesses very tactically oriented.
Think of strategy as art and tactics as the science behind the art.
A strategy is an idea that determines a course of action. And of course, the strategy assumes that it offers an advantage that will lead to more sales. Tactics and activities revolve around the strategy -- transforming your strategy into action.
A dazzling strategy can initially put you on the map in your market -- yet, only solid execution will keep you there. You’ll get results only when your company delivers on the strategy’s intent.
Here are three ways to translate strategic goals into concrete actions that you can effectively put into practice.
Align business objectives, marketing strategy, and actions. The formula is simple -- marketing strategies are based on your company’s objectives. Build your marketing strategies around that. Only then should you choose tactics that support the strategy -- otherwise you’ll end up wasting your time on useless activities. For instance, it may be tempting to create a Linkedin company page, start selling through channel partners, or try a postcard mailing campaign -- just make sure you can first establish how these activities line up with the marketing objectives.
Close the strategy-tactic gap with benchmarks.Move the revenue needle in a positive direction by establishing why each strategy was created and what you expect the outcome will be. Be specific -- increase leads by 20% by the end of the year; expand revenues by 15% within six months by creating awareness of a new use for and existing product; five new accounts with initial orders of $6,000 each within ninety days. Then communicate this up and down the ranks. Now your employees understand the bottom-line impact and will focus on what’s important to the company.
Blueprint for action. By definition, marketing strategies are broad initiatives and will only be properly executed when it is broken down into a series of specific marketing actions. At a minimum, you’ll need to define the offering, purpose of the strategy or program, target market, value proposition and call to action, pricing, desired results and how they will be measured, needed materials or tools and content development, communications plan to key stakeholders such as the sales team and partners, communications plan to the target market and influencers, resources available in-house or through outsourcing, budget available, who is responsible for each activity, and a timeline for each action step element. Once you get your field and staff employees onboard, they’ll feel confident that your company is ready to roll with a powerful action plan. Plus, they’ll have all the information they need to understand what needs to be accomplished in their day-to-day activities.
You can never have tactics created, much less implemented, before strategies are in place. Know exactly what you want to accomplish and how to measure it. Have a very clear and detailed plan with a timetable. Flow information freely across your organization, no matter how big or small it is.
These are the keys are to turning your strategy into a plan of action that makes sense, can be executed effectively, and will be a success.
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com