The best case scenario for effective marketing and communications is a thoughtful and thorough strategic business plan with key strategic insights and direction to guide marcom plan development. A collaborative approach between strategy and marketing/communications leaders and teams is critical to achieve the best growth and profitability results.
Why does business strategy matter? A number of reasons:
- Provides foundation: business purpose, vision, and culture communicated in a powerful way provides the reason for a company’s existence
- Articulates most important business priorities, including desired growth trajectory, target products and geographies, financial goals and targets
- Provides an honest and transparent assessment of how and where a company must compete for success
- Enables targeted, informed marketing and communications planning – shorter path to content and media planning — and results!
- Shortens decision making time — there’s a shared understanding of what’s important to the organization and what it will take to get to its vision and growth goals
- Enables marketing and communications to build messaging and value propositions around a company’s differentiators early in the planning process
- Provides clear direction on the Key Performance Indicators that a company values and how the company will gauge success within the marcom space
What does a solid business strategy entail? The following should be considered:
- Perspective on company’s historical and recent successes and future challenges relative to new and existing products, markets, and customer base
- Industry changes and customer trends that will drive a company’s future strategies and go to market approach
- Market size and trends, overall, and by business line — are markets growing, static, or shrinking; at what pace and where
- Assessment of a company’s competitors, including strength/weakness of competitors; is it a crowded market, who are the current and emerging competitors, what strategic positions do they hold currently and where are they heading
- Company’s stand-out differentiators — what is the value brought to customers — what is enduring and what must be improved
- Strategy for company to take market share from competitors; capitalize on a growing market to increase its business, or harvest business from a declining market
- Expectations and role of marketing and communications in the growth strategy — what is expected from the company and its business strategy and are those expectations realistic
Marketing and communication serve critical roles — creating relationships with customers, differentiating from competitors, helping organizations get discovered and empowering people to make a choice to name a few. Because business strategy and marketing and communications are so intertwined, their intersection should be fostered in several ways:
- Positive working relationships between a company’s strategy, business development, sales, marketing, and communications leadership and teams; appreciation for the value and roles of each function, regardless of reporting relationships
- Open and transparent data, analytics, and information sharing, regardless of data ownership, for the good of the company
- Shared understanding of roles and responsibilities and analytics priorities across the strategy, business development, and marketing/communications functions — how success will be measured and reported
- Marketing and communications objectives closely aligned with business strategies and goals – designed to positively impact growth
- Resource needs articulated in the marcom plan with greater chance of being provided with good alignment between business strategy and marcom
As a practical matter, a marketing and communications plan can be developed in the absence of a business strategy — but the end product will be far superior if a business strategy is provided, verbalized, and used to drive the marcom plan.
A marcom plan that is driven by the current business growth strategy will be more closely aligned to business priorities, which positions the organization for more successful growth.