It’s the end of the year and companies across the country and world are knee-deep in business planning for 2018. Budgets are being justified, planned and allocated based on strategies created to execute against business goals for the coming year.
The best strategy you can adopt in 2018 is a more flexible one. The strategy you adopt in Q4 of 2017 for 2018 may not be relevant in a month’s time, much less for the entire year.
Increase the frequency of strategy performance audits. It’s no longer enough to have a mid-year or even quarterly review of how your strategy is performing. Adopting monthly or in some cases even weekly assessments of the effectiveness of your efforts will make it easier to pivot and capitalize on emerging market opportunities.
Make sure you are measuring the right KPIs for your strategy. One of the biggest mistakes companies make with their strategies when assessing if it is working is to measure the KPIs that are the easiest to measure versus what’s the most relevant to your strategy and goals. For example, when it comes to tracking engagement with your digital strategy, many companies default to the metrics that are the easiest to find, such as Likes, Retweets, or Comments. If your digital strategy is built on driving sales, these aren’t the most relevant metrics to track as they are too far away from having direct impact on a sale. You would want to track other metrics such as the number of times a sales page from your blog is loaded, or the number of times a call to place an order is initiated from your site or blog.
Engage in regular competitive analysis of your market players. This is a very powerful tactic if you’re smart about it. You should always be aware of what your competition is doing. Just because a competitor is doing something doesn’t mean it will work for your organization, but it still pays to know what’s up. Additionally, you can also easily scan feedback from customers via social media to see what they think of what the competition is doing. For example, let’s say you are planning a marketing conference for Fall of 2018. What you could do now is identify 5 events that you feel yours would be competing with, and monitor the feedback from attendees on Twitter. Any event in 2017 has a hashtag set up so that attendees can communicate with each other. This is also a great way for you to see what attendees are saying about their likes and dislikes associated with the event. If you see common complaints from attendees across multiple events, that is a signal for what you need to focus on with planning for your own event.
BTW, competitive analysis can also work to show you what your competitors are NOT doing. I recently decided to shift my strategy in one particular area based on researching that most of my peers were NOT doing something that created an opportunity for me to serve potential clients in a way in which others were not. So it works both ways.
Be open to adopting new tools to increase productivity or improve execution. This is especially important with your digital strategy as new tools are constantly popping up promising to improve content creation, engagement tracking, everything. Carefully monitoring social media sites and digital news sources will not only keep you up to date on the latest tools, it will also give you product feedback. You can see which tools are being promoted as ‘can’t miss’, then track feedback on these tools left by users on social media sites. Twitter chats and groups on Facebook or Linked are also great ways to see what tools your peers are utilizing within their organizations.
So keep these tips in mind as you are doing your strategy planning for 2018. In general, don’t be afraid to revisit your strategy and how it’s being executed, regularly.