No plan survives first contact with the customer, right? So why do it? Better yet why stick with it? Who has time for strategic planning for that matter? There's a lot of hate for strategy and planning these days. Much of it stems from procrastinators' logic.
By not having or honoring a strategic plan, you conveniently, never have to acknowledge if you're off course. And thus, you're never putting off the important work. You get to wander in blissful mission drift until it hurts. But it turns out, planning, in general, is not the problem, and winging it isn't a solution. It's more agility and coordination that need to be woven into your efforts. Here are five tips to help elevate and strengthen your execution.
1. Know your purpose, numbers, and position.
Of course, you need to ensure you and your team understand the strategic objectives and reasoning behind them. It's also paramount that you know the numbers. You absolutely need to know your key performance indicators (KPI's). These include your:
- Cost of acquisition of your customer (CAC)
- Lifetime customer value (LTV)
- Cost per lead (CPL) of your top campaigns
You also need to know how things are performing in real time as you go. So ensure that you have access to real time data and the appropriate analytic dashboards. Finally, you may also find it helpful to know your cost per click of your top campaigns as well. Knowing the numbers strengthens your strategic decision-making every step of the way.
2. Actively reallocate resources.
The ability to apply the breaks to poor performers and add gas to your top performers will save you a lot of money. If you know your numbers, you can be more responsive as conditions change. You may need to adjust the time, attention, people and money to any effort at any time. If you're not actively involved, this is difficult to do.
For example, if your market trends shift away from Snapchat and back to Instagram, you can respond in kind. If you're caught off guard or unaware, you could be marketing on a platform with no audience.
3. Know the power of the eject button.
Many companies struggle to divest fast enough from poor performing initiatives. You need to know when to divest and be able to do it quickly. What are the most important assets you need to take with you if things don't work out? It's usually data; information about customers, product performance, and key vendors. Would you be able to easily grab them and get out? That's the power of the eject button.
4. Budget for smart experiments with wiggle room for failure.
Your desire for perfection can get in your way if it holds you back from risking dollars on experiments. Sure they can fail. They can also succeed. You should always design them to give you good information no matter what. Regardless of how your experiments turn out, you should talk about them.
Honest discussion of challenges and setbacks can dramatically increase long term performance. Debriefings are as important as briefings, especially when you're discussing a failed experiment. So set your budget not only for the experiment itself but the time required to debrief as well.
5. Focus on getting all the parts moving towards the same goal.
According to a recent study featured in Harvard Business Review, coordination is key to execution. You need to align all the parts and pieces together and get them going in the same direction. If you can do this, you can outperform those with smarter plans and far more resources.
Businesses often fail to adapt fast enough to changing market conditions. Companies large and small often struggle with the maneuverability of an aircraft carrier in the face of change. Trying to make such shifts in direction exposes inefficiencies and true agility. It is more often than not, clumsy coordination that is often to blame, not size or complexity.
A volatile market requires nimbleness; parts, people, and processes that work well together towards a common goal. Building agility into your strategic plans is essential for successful execution. It makes it easier to coordinate all the systems, people, partners, and initiatives. So let's reframe the thinking. No plan goes unscathed after first contact with the customer. But a good plan can is agile, coordinated and can weather the market.