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.