Strategy sets direction in which a company wants to go. The key is to develop a strategy that accounts for consumer and competitive realities and then communicate it to all stakeholders. It can be formal or informal, very detailed or simple, but without some sense for who you are and what you are providing as differentiated value in the marketplace, companies inevitably lose their way and advantage in the marketplace. Strategy is essential.
As the economy continues its struggle out of recession, there is a wide call for new strategies that will drive top-line growth. Couldn’t agree more. Strategists, academics, bloggers have all opined that you can’t cost-cut your way to growth. No argument. But in these skinny-times let’s not overlook another constructive argument for strategy: Strategy Saves Money. And by that I mean it preserves resources that would otherwise be wasted and have no real impact.
Spend Strategy: What You Won’t Invest In
It might be the second argument, but it’s a strong one nonetheless. In fact it might be the real test of your strategy. Strategy informs what you will invest in, but shouldn’t it also inform what you won’t invest in. Look at the go-to-market plans in company after company, and you’ll often see adherence to strategy doesn’t run very deep. More often what you’ll see is evidence of “watering of many plants” or an “all money is green” mentality—especially in digital and social media.
Stop that. Focus. In order to achieve growth and save money, bind strategy tightly to spend. Next time you’re writing strategy for growth, bolster the argument by showing what you’ll curb or stop spending money on. And this goes well beyond mere marketing and advertising costs, it really adds up across the enterprise. Consider:
- Human resource investments
- Executive time
- Consumer research
- Product development
- Channel marketing support
- Customer service support
So test yourself. Is your strategy driving investment and savings? Who knows, money saving might just win the love (and plan approval) of your beloved CFO.