By Jeffrey Barnhart
Is it that time of the year already? When the days start to get shorter, companies begin to ponder what they’ve accomplished during the past year, in addition to thinking about the challenges ahead. One critical component to every company’s success is the “future plan.” Setting corporate goals and communicating them throughout the organization ensures that everyone on the team is heading in the right direction. If employees don’t know which way they’re meant to be going, they won’t get there.
An article in Inc. cites alarming results from the 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey. More than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed said that they don’t keep track of their business goals, and 77 percent have yet to achieve their vision for their company.
To be successful, leaders must commit to certain disciplines, which oftentimes are a challenge within itself. Everyday workloads may create obstacles to the strict adherence to the processes and procedures that are necessary to stay the course. Leaders tend to get enveloped working “in” the business rather than “on” the business. Communicating the future in terms that everyone understands, appreciates and buys into is another challenge that leaders face. You likely will find yourself asking, “How much information should be shared and how often?”
According to an article in Forbes—which refers to a Harvard Business Review article, “When CEOs Talk Strategy, Is Anyone Listening?”—only a fraction of our workforce is really clued in. The article cites research, which says that even in high-performing companies with “clearly articulated public strategies,” only 29 percent of their employees can correctly identify their company’s strategy out of six choices. That means 70 percent (seven out of 10) of all employees are unknowingly misaligned with your company’s strategic direction.
To find the perfect balance, leaders may have to try several different iterations until they reach the ultimate “everyone is walking the same talk.” The benefits are endless. Having a common vision creates energy that naturally invigorates the company culture. You can measure success, identify, discuss and solve challenges, as well as make adjustments along the way.
It’s important for companies to take steps now to plan for next year. The most successful ones I’ve encountered during my 30+ years leading CMA, can be excerpted from Gino Wickman’s book “Traction,” which outlines the secrets of strengthening the key components of a business:
• Establish a clear vision that is shared by everyone
• Ensure you have the right people in the right seats
• Measure the company pulse
• Identify and solve issues promptly
• Document processes and ensure they are followed
• Establish priorities
• Ensure trust, communication and accountability are present
CMA has been utilizing its own proprietary discovery process, Marketecture™, to engage in strategic analysis to help our clients understand how their company can be best positioned in the marketplace. During the course, CMA examines the following:
• Pain points
• Buying motivations
• Competitive challenges
• Marketplace forces impacting the company
Marketecture™ is a unique process that identifies market positioning, creates the compelling sales messages and, ultimately, a strategy for creative communications tactics that propels the client’s brand power. It also ensures that you have the game plan to reach the correct audience, with the right messaging, to yield outstanding results.
Many of CMA’s clients have had success utilizing Marketecture™, since the firm launched it 15 years ago, including a 100-year-old manufacturer that was losing sales because of a tarnished brand in the marketplace. CMA conducted a Marketecture™ session, coupled with primary and secondary research, and developed a well-rounded plan of action. The company, now 108 years old, has catapulted into a national industry leader. Another client, a global lighting manufacturer, wanted to differentiate itself in a growing target audience. Through our Marketecture™ process, we developed a customized customer incentive program to reward the new target audience for buying this company’s product, rather than another company’s product.
In closing, because of the ever-evolving technological changes throughout society, strategic analysis will be an increasingly critical tool to identify what works and what doesn’t. Although the tools available to conduct strategic analyses are at our fingertips, CMA’s process takes those theories to a superior level.
If you expect results, call CMA now to schedule your Marketecture™ session with our experts.
Jeffrey Barnhart is founder and CEO of Creative Marketing Alliance (CMA) a full-service, award-winning strategic marketing and integrated communications firm that builds reputation, relationships and return on investment. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.