As B2B marketers enter the 2012 strategic planning season and begin shaping executional plans, it is important that we get it right. The goal is to create a strategy that survives the full year (and beyond) and gives you a framework for more tactical planning, execution and optimization.
Today, many companies have replaced strategic planning with a set of goals and tactics, without a formalized marketing strategy.
There are four barriers I frequently see that keep companies from adopting effective strategic planning.
- Value. Many companies simply do not value marketing strategy. Marketing goes from a series of goals directly to tactical planning. While the results may meet the stated goals, your plans are likely a collection of random acts of marketing.
- Time and resources. Strategic planning is time intensive and requires people who are already in high demand in your organization. Companies in this position consider strategic planning to be too expensive, even if is valued.
- Alignment. There is not one magical strategic plan for a business, there are multiple strategies that will be effective for your business (and a few that will not be). Since strategy cannot be definitively proven right, getting alignment around a strategy may be a challenge in your organization. Companies in this position often begin tactical planning and get into market before the team is aligned around a strategic plan.
- Knowledge. Not every organization has people familiar with strategic planning. Particularly in smaller businesses, you may have a knowledge gap. Despite your best intentions, strategic planning will be a struggle.
If these barriers exist in your organization, they are effectively decisions that have already been made against strategic planning. They need to be addressed before a successful strategic plan can be developed.
Next week I will share some of the successful approaches I have seen to addressing these challenges, including value, which in my opinion is the most difficult challenge to address.
What other barriers do you see to strategic planning? What are the most significant challenges? Share your experiences in the comments below or with me on Twitter.