Deep consumer insight is the definite key to taming the long term strategic planning beast. And by taming this beast and learning to coordinate it well, you and your company can learn to navigate successfully in any sort of competitive environment.How? By understanding your customers, goals and current position so well that you can make long term sales and growth plans that actually work because they’re based on realistic and well analyzed intelligence.This is fundamentally what strategic planning is all about, learning how to research your business situation and consumers through a careful process of asking questions and then applying the intel you gather to actionable sales and marketing tactics.That said, there are several key steps to strategic planning, as described in much more detail in their great (and free) ebook by the people at Insights in Marketing.Now let’s briefly cover just what the strategic planning process revolves around.
Setting the Foundation for Strategic Planning
At the most basic level of developing a strategic plan, you and your team need to ask yourselves some probing questions about what your company is all about, and then apply the answers to creating specific strategies.Five crucial questions to ask at this point include:
- What are the core goals your company wants to fulfill?
- What is your image of ideal success and how might you reach it?
- How would you plan your time, strategy and resource allocation for reaching that ideal level of success?
- Where does your company currently stand with meeting customer needs and dealing with competitors?
- What concrete steps have you or are you taking so far to reach your ideal and how are you measuring your progress?
With these questions in the process of being answered, you can then go ahead and start creating a strategic planning checklist that will help you plan out customer acquisition and expansion.Some of the checklists most crucial aspects include:
- Sales figures and growth tendencies that you can deduce from these sales numbers
- Analysis of your competitors and your actual consumers
- Different kinds of information about the specific characteristics of your customers and your overall market niche
Creating a Consumer Insight RoadmapThe absolute core of strategic planning involves getting to know your customers as intimately as possible, especially what makes their emotional triggers go off and really feeds their deep interests.Building this core revolves around gathering every bit of information and insight you already have on your consumer market and then adding to it as widely as possible in a continuous process of consumer insights culture that your company and team should develop and fully internalize. This process is also called building a consumer information roadmapSome key consumer insight to accumulate and use in your promotional strategy includes:
- How your customers break down into different types with slightly varied needs and buying reasons
- Their browsing and ad viewing habits
- How they’re finding your promotional message and brand image
- How they use your products
- What they’d like to see improve
- What appeals to them with the greatest emotional or practical impact
- How they perceive your brand in relation to what appeals to them
- How much awareness of your brand your larger target market sector has of your brand
- Buying and spending habits of your customers
- The promotion mediums that get eyeballs and convert best with your target consumers
- What factors will trigger an emotional attachment to your brand and products in your customers
- How your customers think in general, what do they value?
The greater the amount of information such as the above that you gather and form into a cohesive actionable image of your consumers behavior, the easier it will be for you and your company to reach the most ideal selling position possible, this being one in which you’ve crafted the perfect value proposition to your most ideal possible customer.Learn to do this and your sales and consumer loyalty will take off.