By Matt Zajechowski
The benefits of strategic planning in your business are something that can’t really be overstated, simply because they are so diverse and tactically sound. Many small business owners start their company and get it rolling along (if they’re lucky enough to get that far) without ever really investing time and research into a long term, customer centric strategic plan that could dramatically change how much success their business grows over the long run.
This is what we’re going to briefly cover here and by introducing you to an excellent ebook on the subject and also just what strategic planning can do for your company if you immerse yourself in it.
What is Strategic Planning?
First of all, you should really check out this detailed and very thorough ebook written by the people at Insights in Marketing. It’s free to download and it goes into a much larger volume of tactical insights on strategic planning than we’ll cover here.
In essence, strategic planning revolves around using research and data on your customers in an effort to really know what they’re about, what they desire and how you can help them. This effort to know your customers deeply is ongoing and once started you use it to form a long term strategy for your business can evolve in a way that anticipates both your competitors’ actions and your customers future desires.
Generally speaking, the strategic planning process consists of three major steps that you can take to achieve the above.
1. Creating a Consumer Information Roadmap
Strategic planning starts with getting to know your customers deeply through a consumer information roadmap. The ebook covers this and goes into detail on the need to create something called a consumer information roadmap, which is created by performing a consumer insights audit.
In essence, you need to gather together every piece of information you already have on your customers and do an overview of it to see where the holes in your knowledge can be found. From here you can create a better picture of what you need to find out about your customers and start doing the necessary research to find it. Some of the more important information you need to look for includes:
- How your customers and consumers segment down into different types
- Their habits and online behavior
- Their level of awareness of your brand and products/services
- How they perceive your brand and service
- How much your advertising reaches them
- The dynamics of their buying and online browsing
- Their levels of satisfaction (and where they’re dissatisfied)
- The best marketing mediums for reaching your potential consumers most deeply.
- Ideal pricing structure
- Your company’s market share
Collecting this and other information will be an ongoing process that doesn’t have a finish date. Because you want your company to evolve and adapt to customer needs, you have to constantly update the changing parameters of how these consumers interact with your brand, products and changes to what you’re offering. Doing this will build you long term insight.
2. Finding the Ideal Customer and the Right Benefit
Your absolute most important goal in terms of consumer insight and the above described information gathering lies in finding your ideal customer and the best benefit for them. This isn’t easy to do and the only way to achieve it consistently is through diligent, constant research on what makes your consumers tick and what they really need within the context of the niche you serve.
However, if you do find the ideal customer and deliver to them the benefit that’s most right for their needs, you will create a type of brand loyalty that can last a long time and create excellent ongoing sales for your business. Furthermore, it will keep you ahead of your competition in terms of anticipating customer needs.
3. Starting a Consumer Insights Culture in Your Company
Making strategic planning work effectively in your business is something that requires an ongoing consumer insights effort which you and your team internalize and turn into a culture of its own. Your entire business should be geared towards constantly finding out new insights about your customers and adding them to your existing knowledge. With this evolving wealth of information, you can keep refining your long term plans so that they synchronize as much as possible with customer needs and desires.
To download the full ebook from Insights in Marketing for more strategic planning tips, click here.