1. REQUIREMENTS FOR GROWTH
Gone are the days when minimal competition and simple marketplaces allowed companies – some in spite of themselves – to survive and, yes, to continue to grow powerfully.
The “New Millennium” is upon us and, with it, a business climate that is immensely different vs. a mere few years ago, viz.:
- Competition is as varied as it is fierce and invading
- Globalisation is upon us. Thus, competition is now … a simple click away, and getting closer …
- “Me-too” brands abound: Consumers are more confused than ever, plus, by implication, they are also spoiled for choice
- Technology is able to be copied in an instant. Technology, thus, cannot anymore, act as a “Unique Selling Principle” in order to provide a powerful buffer against outside competition
- Consumers want and demand far more value than before – value that touches them clearly and … makes “sense” to them. This Value must make both common & commercial sense, plus ideally add clear benefit to their social and business lifestyles
- Consumers’, further, demand products and services that stand out relevantly and meaningfully; that are different, better, more special. In fact, unique. Uniqueness provides consumers with a clear perception of having obtained clear, relevant value during the process of consuming a product and/or service (e.g. a rental car: the car is the product, the delivery of the car is the service – two categories in one)
- Organisations do not have the luxury of “time to prove themselves” anymore. It is succeed, or be quickly vanquished by one’s competition. It’s rough out there …
- The workforce has changed since the Industrial Revolution era. Employees are now finally acknowledged as fully-fledged “human beings”; people who require deeper inspiration and understanding around what they do, as a collective team, in order to assist the organisation achieve its business aspirations
2. WHAT IS “STRATEGY?”
Strategy is not a plan. More correctly, Strategy is “planning”; it is a doing word, an unceasing activity, a constant awareness of what must be carried out throughout the organisation in order to succeed handsomely. Strategy is being actively involved in the core “business engine” of an organisation on a daily basis, constantly aware of the key tenets which constitutes an organisation’s organic working structure, inter alia:
- Knowing what one’s core business is, with total clarity
- Knowing one’s “economic engine” of what, if managed correctly, will sustain future growth
- Knowing where one wishes to take one’s organisation. And, by implication, where one has come from
- Being aware of who one is … as a business, with total clarity
- Knowing your consumers / customers intimately such that one is competently aware of exactly which “buttons to press” to obtain the required positive responses. Constantly.
- The Values which dictate – non-negotiably – how a business behaves and goes to market. Culture cannot be “created”; it is a by-product of the conscious or sub-conscious behaviours which pervade an organisation
- Being comfortable in the “industry battle zone” because you have made it your business to understand and leverage this battle zone for the full benefit of the organisation
- Knowing, with absolute clarity, how one wishes, as a collective organisation, to move forward
Most importantly however, strategy is GROUNDED. By this we mean, strategy is based on the best information available to an organisation through active effort, dedication and commitment.
Which, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where “plans” differ. A plan is an “instant” statement of intent, floating in a vacuum, having insufficient rationalisation in order to engender confidence in its ability to work, and work sustainably. Anyone can make up a plan – instantly. “I plan to do this or I plan to do that or …” – you get the message. And this is where an organisation confuses plans with the real thing: Strategy.
Strategy is laced with business integrity. By this we mean that strategy is designed to work for a specific organisation within a tailored context, not just be a general statement of intent. However, to achieve this, an organisation needs to heavy-up its understanding in the following key areas in order to be strategically competent:Company Internal understanding of:
- Top managements’ strategic intent; their strategic understanding; their visionary ideals, plus an idea of their personal values and aspirations
- Company capabilities now, and, for what is feasible for the organisation to achieve in the future
- Current company culture, relative to its values, mores, behaviours
- A specific Company’s current “language”, i.e. its “strategic conversation” and communication ability (or, inability …)
- Consumers (primary, secondary …)
- Customers (primary, secondary …)
- Competitors (direct and indirect)
- Industry (trends, characteristics, enablers, barriers, …)
- Government legalities and regulations, now, and, future-based
Yes, certainly, this is hard work for any organisation. Effort is required not only to heavy-up in these areas, but to ensure that these key strategic information areas remain … “heavy” with understanding.
Only with a decent enough understanding of this key, strategic information is it possible to confidently assure an organisation that the (on-going) “war” it is fighting “out there” has an excellent chance of being convincingly won.
The “stuff of business” is a war Ladies and Gentlemen; let’s not forget this … ever. A never-ending war ...
Wars are won with the right quality thinking and approach. To know one’s “enemies” and to understand the lay of the land. Wars are not won on luck alone. Certainly not in today’s business clime.
Strategy therefore is an active, constant process. It is thus a … commitment … that an organisation makes towards its focused, clear “picture of success”. Strategy has, behind it, a truthful and passionate will and focus to succeed – handsomely and sustainably.
The above is the purest form of business integrity.
Finally, strategy is collective intent; it is the “will of the organisation’s people”, together as one, understanding, as a cohesive Team, exactly what needs to be done … now … and … going forward. Constantly. It is a “forever attitude” towards fame and fortune.
3. THE FINE LINK BETWEEN ADVERTISING AND STRATEGY
Strategy serves as the “launching pad” for an organisation, creating a clear and inspired “road map” forward. It guides an organisation forward; optimally, and, with confidence.
This strategic guidance dictates, aligns and promotes selected activities that a organisation is required to carry out in its daily operations in order to achieve its visionary aspirations. The understanding being that, every activity an organisation performs, needs to clearly align to its collective vision; a vision that is collectively understood to achieve the organisation’s highest business and personal aspirations.
Never should an organisation carry out (major, costly) “nice-to-have” activities or tactics that have not been formally “sanctioned” by it’s strategic vision. Only the real deal is acceptable – i.e. knowing what is designed to work for the organisation, based upon its agreed-upon strategic intent. Everything else is, simply speaking, not a priority towards fame and fortune.
Thus, an organisation becomes focused & prioritised in what it needs & therefore chooses to do in order to achieve its visionary ideals.
The use of Advertising is no different. A crucial communications tool – the most crucial – advertising (in its various promotional forms) forms the key dialogue with customers and consumers. Therefore, by implication, advertising must communicate and promote the right strategic messages to customers & consumers; messages that the organisation has decided it wants and needs to say in order to facilitate its visionary aspirations and unique industry positioning.
How does Advertising know what to say, do, feel, think and promote?
Simple: via the understanding of the strategic integrity and intent of an organisation.
Excellent strategy enables excellent advertising briefing, which in turn enables excellent (effective) advertising, leading to excellent profits & growth!
Poor strategy, poor advertising briefing, poor advertising: poor profit and growth performance and … the inevitable takes place …
4. THE COMMERCIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR USING THE CORRECT STRATEGIC INPUT
Companies, as mentioned, are in a constant state of “war” with their competitors.
How does one win a war? Simple: by having the right information relative to one’s troops, one’s enemy and one’s “battle ground”, or “war zone.”
Battalions in any battle zone always have what is termed an “intelligence” unit. This unit provides all the necessary information to the General and his reportees which is required for the Battalion to put together strategies to outwit their enemy. Without this critical internal and external information, the chances of winning the war are slim.
Business is no different. Specialist personnel, inside and outside the organisation, ideally, need to feed the above type of strategic information to the strategy centres of an organisation for dissemination and implementation, in order for it to navigate its way intelligently into enemy territory, confident of success.
This is the biggest hurdle an organisation faces in “readying” itself for this strategic process. An organisation, using only subjective, internal methods of extracting strategic information, is highly unlikely to generate sufficient, realistic, strategic information to take itself into battle. It will not have a sufficiently informed idea of the outside “battle-ground.”
Outside information is crucial, as described above, in order to complement its internal information. The usage of trustworthy, objective external information – and to trust those objective measures – is to accept the reality of an organisations need for complete, optimal knowledge in order to carry out its strategic aspirations with a good degree of confidence.
Which is why credible external business strategists and business-savvy communication specialists are key to achieving an organisation’s future growth aspirations. Good business strategy and communication specialists are trained to (objectively) distance themselves from an organisation when interrogating what that specific organisation needs, in order for an organisation achieve its business and visionary objectives.
Client’s success rests on obtaining the right internal and external information.
5. THE RECIPE FOR ORGANISATIONAL SURVIVAL: VALUE-ADDED “DIFFERENTIATION”
This strategic information outlined above, used for forming powerful and unique (strategic) business objectives, strategies and tactics, allows an organisation to position itself in the market in a unique and relevant way; to offer a unique “value proposition” that effectively and intelligently allows it to usurp its current and future competition.
An organisation today requires a unique and powerful business model, or, “recipe” for growth (growth, not “survival” – survival, today, is going backwards). A recipe that optimises sustainable growth. As is now obvious, this does not take place by chance. It is an active process that, once carried out and maintained, assures organisations of a very bright future. In any economic climate.