What keeps you awake at night? (Part II)
We’re back with more “sleep remedies”. After some advice on how to win new customers in our first blog of this series, we’re now looking at the second most common cause for our clients’ sleepless nights: how to improve short and long-term planning processes, and effectively connect strategies with market execution.
The transition from long-term vision to short-term plans and implementation, is difficult in large organizations. When a brand puts forward a 10-year vision, it needs to be exciting and ambitious to inspire the business. But more often than not, the three years, or one-year plans, lack direction and don’t reflect that long-term vision; turning the brand’s rosy dreams into nightmares.
Fear not! These are our top tips on how to not lose sleep over short and long-term planning processes and connecting marketing execution to your business strategy successfully.
Keep it real
To get the trophy at the end of the marathon, you need to know when to sprint. When you start looking at the short-term – the next three years, or even the next year – your plan needs to be real, and achievable. Setting unrealistic expectation is a recipe for disaster.
Step by step
To avoid that disconnect between the long-term vision and the short-term activation, break it down into short-term goals. It’s never enough to simply set a goal and hope for the best. Instead, you need to lay out a step-by-step program, informed by trends, market conditions, and your own objectives.
What does the business need to do after one year? three years? or five years? Ensure that these plans connect to the long-term strategy. Once you’ve identified the steps you need to take to reach the peak, your climb will be much easier.
Put your money where your mouth is
Building a seamless connection between short-term plans and long-term goals is only the first step. You might have very sexy brand plans. But have you stress tested them? With our clients we often operate diagnostic tests to ensure that brand strategy and tactics are well connected and well informed by consumer and commercial insights, and not just flashy PowerPoint slides.
We call this stress test, STRAP: Strategic Targets, Risks, Adequacy and Priorities. This model ensures that your plans connect to your strategic objectives. To do so, we answer four key questions:
- Do your initiatives match your consumer insights and strategic targets?
- What risks are unaccounted for?
- Are your initiatives well-resourced?
- Have you prioritized initiatives based on expected impact and goals?
Your business goals and priorities need to be reflected in your program. Are you allocating enough resources to the key elements in your plan? Do you have the right people that can deliver the results you want? And have you done all the due diligence to ensure that this program will succeed? Build a well-designed plan, that considers all aspects: resources, budget, and execution; including the commercial and the communication side of it. In our experience, good execution is almost better than the perfect strategy.
So, if you want to make your long-term dreams come true, don’t neglect the process. Make sure that your short-term programs are aligned with your ultimate goal, make them concrete and bullet proof. Once you’re confident that your plans are well designed and will deliver against your objectives, put them in practice. As William Shakespeare once said, “Nothing comes from doing nothing.”