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3 Pillars to Build an Effective Growth Strategy – Pillar #3, PLAN

In part 1 of this 3-part series, Insights, the nuggets of information that help to focus a company on opportunities and issues that impact the growth of their business were discussed. In Part 2, Brand, we discussed the importance of your branding and five questions to keep in mind when thinking about developing your brand.

If you haven’t read Part 1, Insights yet, click here or for Part 2, Brand, click here. I believe that in an ideal situation, gathering insights (#1) to build your brand (#2) and develop your plans (#3), is critical to developing a successful strategic marketing plan.


Your strategic plans are essential to managing your business growth. Spend time developing a cohesive roadmap to follow and make sure your entire team is on the same page.

These plans should take the insights and brand strategy work you’ve already completed to help you achieve your long-term business and growth strategies. These are actionable plans and should include your tactical implementations (including marketing, timelines, budgets, KPI’s for success, etc.)

Remember that developing your plan is a team sport. Make sure to include all of your stakeholders and strategic departments.

Here are six key questions to help with planning:

1. Do you have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve?

Knowing where you want to go, is crucial so you can map out a clear path to get there. Work backward, develop your timelines and milestones to ensure you stay on plan.

2. What does your brand stand for in the eyes of your customer?

Simply put, perception is reality. You need to know how you are perceived in the market to determine how closely it’s tied to who you are. Doing this upfront also allows you to establish how you want to change the unwanted perceptions and reinforce those you want to hold.

3. Why do your customers buy from you?

If you don’t know, ask. Have a conversation with your customers and probe for the real reason they buy. Knowing this can help you develop future messaging for prospects in similar businesses.

4. What are your competitors doing to differentiate themselves?

Most businesses do not spend enough time analyzing their competitors. I believe this is essential and should be done on an on-going basis. Investing time here can help provide insight into opportunities or dangers that your business may face because of your competitive set.

5. What is your approach to sales? Where are your opportunities for revenue? Is it in existing markets or products or new ones or acquisitions?

Understanding the dynamics of the market in which you are competing is essential. That includes understanding how your customers are buying. As a result of digital transformation, for example, there is an 85% increase in the research being conducted by your prospects online and a 235% increase in the evaluation of products/services. This all relates back to knowing your customers and making sure you have a deep understanding of who they are.

6. How can you differentiate yourself?

Knowing how your competitors define themselves provides you the opportunity to identify true points of differentiation. We have great people is not a sustainable differentiator. And, if you’ve conducted the research recommended in Part #1 of the 3 Pillars, you have potentially identified a few areas where you can differentiate for a sustainable advantage.

To recap, businesses need to utilize each of the 3 Essential Pillars to build your strategic roadmap to growth that directs the tactics, ultimately making those tactics, and your business, significantly more effective in achieving your long-term and profitable growth.

On my website, I have an ebook about storytelling and integrating your story into your brand, CLICK HERE to download, as well as one for establishing a competitive intelligence program. CLICK HERE to find out more.

Check out our NEW, APPLES Marketing Strategy Framework eBook, Workbook, and Workshop to help guide you in developing your plan.

Please subscribe to our podcast, Business Growth Café. CLICK HERE to find your favorite podcast platform.

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