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Our buddies at Armada Corporate Intelligence addressed what sections you should include in your go to market strategy plan in their “Inside the Executive Suite” feature. They highlighted ten different sections to include your strategy plan. (Note: If you want to learn more about the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief system and get in on this great publication for an incredibly low monthly rate, please visit the Armada website.)

Go-To-Market-Space

10 Sections Your Go to Market Strategy Plan Should Include via Armada Corporate Intelligence

AEIB-GraphicThe term “go to market” strategy cropped up perhaps fifteen years ago. In b-school and for years in the business world, we created “marketing” plans. Maybe consultants coined the new term. We see the difference between a marketing plan and a go to market strategy focusing on how the latter incorporates an understanding of customers, what attracts them, and what a brand does to introduce and win share with a successful product or service. (For brevity, we’ll use “product” to represent both products and services from here on.)

We haven’t found a perfect list of what a go to market strategy incorporates. The list here, however, is what we’ve identified and used. It’s a starting point to adapt from as you work on bringing new product initiatives to market:

Target Market

You need to communicate the primary targets you are trying to reach based on a product’s design, intended experience, and marketing. “Everyone” is not an answer to describe the target market. You should pursue a definable, distinct portion of the available audience. Although targeted, it needs to be large enough to deliver on revenue and profit objectives. When targeting multiple groups, communicate which one is the primary target versus others you might include in your marketing.

Brand Strategy

This isn’t just about logos, advertising, and colors. That’s only a part of brand strategy. The go to market strategy should address alignment between your employees, product quality and experience, audience communications, and everything else reinforcing your brand and how you’ll introduce and market a new product. The brand strategy sets guidelines for the go to market approach and provides a platform for new, smart ideas to integrate the product within the overall brand.

Positioning & Messaging

Positioning addresses where you want to place your product in the marketplace relative to competitive offerings. The position (and messages conveying the position to the market) should be distinct versus competitors’ market positions. Developing a product’s ideal position incorporates what the target market expects and will accept from the brand. It also includes what customers will reward through positive buying behaviors. Articulating the position is a start; the remainder of your go to market strategy addresses delivering on the position daily.

Value Proposition

A value proposition can take various forms. Two common elements are needed irrespective of the format. Initially,  the value proposition must clearly communicate how customers, through using your product, will receive more in return than the sum of what they paid and the other “costs” associated with using it. The other essential is the value proposition isn’t just a statement. It must translate to real world product purchase, use, and support experiences.

Sales and Distribution Channels

This covers the varied means of selling and getting the product to customers. It could include strategies for direct sales, inside sales, inbound marketing, wholesalers, distribution partners, alliances, affiliates, etc. It also incorporates all the elements necessary to support channels and relationships, including recruiting, hiring, training, tools, deployment, and the supply chain.

Customer Touch Points

You won’t just reach customers through the sales and distribution channel touchpoints. This strategy component addresses how the product will rely on direct and indirect online contact (web, social media, content), front line service providers, the customer service team, and any other places where you expect customers will interact with your brand and form perceptions about the experience.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy must fit with all other sections to strategically and effectively support the market position and value proposition. It’s impossible to cover creating a pricing strategy in one paragraph. There’s one common trap, however, we see trip up many companies: the pricing strategy may have nothing to do with the production costs. Pricing isn’t necessarily your cost plus a certain percent added as a mark-up. You develop a pricing strategy to support the right value proposition in the marketplace; getting costs in line to support that position is a separate issue.

Marketing Communications Strategy

As with brand strategy, many executives incorrectly think this is the only part of a go to market strategy. Within this section, make sure you have the right mix of online presence and content, advertising, collateral, event marketing, public relations, and internal communication to support the product’s position and intended messages.

Supporting Technology and Systems

More than ever, technology is an integral part of developing and launching products. Smart marketers invite the IT team to the table early when planning a new product. They can help identify innovative ways to use technology to maximize the customer experience and improve efficiencies that create a more attractive cost position.

Metrics

Whether at the start or end a go to market strategy, develop and refine relevant metrics throughout creating the approach. Rather than simply including only sales units, revenue, and profitability targets, metrics should be in place to help identify progress and challenges during the entire implementation process. – Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

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Walking in on the Kansas City Chiefs – Oakland Raiders game broadcast Sunday on FOX, the announcers were discussing the Chiefs defensive scheme. They reported the team’s defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, told them that when planning competitive strategy, “I want to stay out of ‘never’ and ‘always.’”

Competitive-Strategy-Chiefs

What fantastic competitive strategy advice to incorporate this time of year as you implement new strategies.

While most brands want a consistent, always the same brand experience for customers, you don’t want to fall into familiar patterns with competitive strategy. When it comes to competitive strategy, you definitely want to take advantage of the power of surprise whenever and wherever possible.

Who Sees Predictable Competitive Strategy Moves?

Here’s the big strategic thinking question: Who can best shed light on when your brand is defaulting to “never and always” in your competitive strategy?

Your marketing and brand managers MAY be able to point out places where THEY have gone to the same old, same old in their strategic planning and implementation. Chances are, however, they aren’t going to be quick to come to the table and point out where they aren’t doing everything they should to grow the brand.

Alternatively, look to these sources:

  • Your market research and data people – Do you have predictable patterns that show up in the data, whether it’s in market research data or other data sources that reflect market activity? Dive in to see what you can see happening over and over.
  • Savvy, trusted customers – Every brand has customers that are brand fans with a keen appreciation of the broad marketplace and what each competitor is doing. Reach out to these customers for your brand. Ask them what they have to say about your “never and always” patterns.

Competitive Strategy – 7 Ways to Avoid “Never and Always”

Once you’ve got as good a handle as possible on your predictable competitor strategy moves, then it’s time to introduce competitive surprises. They could include:

  1. Doing something that’s opposite of what you always do
  2. Doing something you’ve never done before
  3. Randomly varying a pattern you always follow
  4. Doing way more or way less of things you can’t stop doing, but can change the intensity
  5. Putting together two things you haven’t done together before
  6. Using channel partners in new and different ways
  7. Changing aspects of the marketing mix that are on autopilot for new product launches

Start there and see what else you can do to turn back from a competitive strategy that needlessly depends on “never and always.”  – Mike Brown

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Great branding strategy examples abound. You just have to be on the lookout for them when they come across your path.

We were in St. Joseph, MO for a client session. The highlight of the car trip was driving by this ice cream stand, Kris and Kate’s Ice Cream Treats. Can you believe how cute this place is? Although the sign outside said it is closed until March, a stop on the way back through town was mandatory to get a few pictures.

Kris-Kate-Ice-Cream-Treats

It was only after pulling into the parking lot at Kris and Kate’s Ice Cream Treats on the return trip that something even more incredible than the building’s design jumped out: the best brand promise ever.

“If you can think it, we can make it.”

Brand-Promise

I don’t know if Kris and Kate’s Ice Cream Treats thinks about this as a brand promise, a slogan, or something else. It really doesn’t matter, because it is the best brand promise ever – and not just for an ice cream stand in St. Joseph, MO.

If your organization specializes in one particular area, your branding strategy discussions should include the question: “If our customers can think it, can we make it?”

If that were your organization’s brand promise, what would you have to do differently with your branding strategy when it comes to:

  • Responsiveness?
  • Flexibility?
  • Your commitment to figuring things out?
  • The ability to anticipate your customers?
  • Being ready for unusual requests?
  • Having resources in place to act?
  • Support organizationally for improvisation?
  • Support and guidelines instead of rules for employee behavior?

It gets pretty dizzying in a hurry!

But wouldn’t the ability to do these things make your brand promise be the best brand promise ever?

I think we just stumbled over our newest brand experience exercise!  – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

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  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

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These five articles stood out this week in our core content areas of strategic thinking, creativity, and social media and content marketing. Each of them is worth a click and a look!

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1. Ten Ways to Weave Creativity into your Classroom!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State and her co-author, Julia Figliotti, have released a new book on creativity: Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum. (Affiliate Link) To develop the book, they reached out to more than one hundred educators and creativity-focused experts for creativity ideas. The resulting book features more than seven hundred ideas. In this blog post, they highlight their ten favorite ideas. Even if you’re not an educator, this post is worth checking out because nearly all the creativity ideas and tips also apply directly to the workplace.

2. The $50 Billion Question: Can Uber Deliver?

I’ll come right out and admit I don’t “get” Uber. Realizing that puts me WAY in the minority, this Wall Street Journal article about Uber trying to get into the delivery business (just one of several Uber-realted articles in the Journal this week), includes several refreshing contrarian voices. Products don’t find the vehicle at pickup or make their way into the final destination at delivery on their own. They are also perishable in a variety of ways. That means even if Uber is working for people, it’s not necessarily a quick translation to moving products.

3. CVS to Buy 1,600 Drugstores from Target for $1.9 Billion

CVS buying the Target pharmacy operation is an intriguing strategic thinking example. Two brands competing in several retail categories are planning to co-exist and create mutual benefits for both. It’s a great example of two brands engaging in an unusual strategic relationship that fits both of their near- and longer-term plans. Combing through multiple takes on the story yielded multiple strategic thinking questions a brand can use to expand its list of potential competitors and partners.

4. Stop Sending Traffic to Your Homepage: 3 Reasons Why Landing Pages Convert More Visitors into Leads

I saw this post on LinkedIn, but this is the original link from Mike Whaling at 30Lines. Mike helped us set up our initial landing pages. This is a great reminder about one of the keys to online and content marketing that many businesses miss.

5. From the Brainzooming Archives: Social Media Moments of Silence – 5 Areas to Monitor during Tragedies

This article arose from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, CT and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. There was a lot of talk at the time about brands needing to recognize a moment of silence when major tragedies take place. As of the publication date, I haven’t heard the same talk following the tragic shootings in Charleston, SC, but it seems like a comparable tragedy that should have warranted a bigger national pause than seems to have taken place. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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I learned in a Bible class that one meaning of the word “holy” is “to be set apart.” In the case of religion, obviously, whatever is considered holy is being set apart for God.

Extending this idea to business can help explain executives who act as if they are the only ones involved in developing strategy for their organizations.

Many executives commonly think, believe, and act as if strategic planning activities are “holy” since they are set apart as something in which only leaders can participate.

Everyone else gets told (ideally) or not (far too often) what the company strategy means for employees, customers, and other stakeholder groups. This communication about strategy may be so superficial it is nearly impossible for an employee to understand and connect to the business strategy to effectively it to life with customers.

Who Participates in Strategic Planning Activities?

At its heart, how the broader organization participates in strategic planning activities is a philosophical issue about what “owning” a company’s strategy means. This extends to who in an organization (or even outside an organization) provides input, hypothesizes about, develops,  shapes, articulates, and implements strategy.

From spending most of my career in the Fortune 500 world leading and participating in developing strategy, the approach The Brainzooming Group supports is that strategy SHOULD NOT be considered “holy.” We push for and support more people participating in developing strategy because it paves the way for dramatic marketplace success.

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Our thinking about strategy permeates the content here.

Creating Strategic Impact and Results!!!

Additionally, The Brainzooming Group has published a new mini-book for senior executives called, “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact throughout an Organization.”

In this mini-book, we share ten lessons for how senior executives should approach developing strategy as an open, collaborative process that meaningfully involves participants and insights from inside and outside their organizations.

These lessons from our work with clients across industries lead to discovering new ideas and changing how organizations serve customers more successfully. The lessons include how to efficiently incorporate a wide number of perspectives about delivering value and more seamlessly linking strategy and implementation throughout the organization.

Download your copy of “Results” today and get a big head start beating your competitors to new heights for strategic impact and dramatic results!


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Mike Brown

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Before We Start

This isn’t an April Fool’s Day post; it’s an actual article. If you’d like to understand why we ignore April Fool’s Day prank posts, you can review our article on why we think they are generally a very bad practice.

Seriously Considering Customer Experience Strategy

What seems like eons ago, Stephen Lahey, the self-professed #1 Brainzooming fan, and I were discussing customer experience strategy and doing some strategic thinking on how to create a pre-purchase experience for an intangible service.

The point was with a product, a potential buyer can pick it up or demo it with minimal economic impact on the product’s delivered cost.

With an intangible service that has to be created to deliver the full experience, however, the economics and practicality of a full demo fail quickly. There typically has to be a huge upside and pretty firm assurance of some level of remuneration for a demo of any significance to make sense for an intangible service.

11 Ways to Demo an Intangible Service

Mike Brown Speaking at KVC Health Workshop

Despite this potential customer experience strategy limitation, there are possibilities. We did the strategic thinking to suggest these eleven possibilities:

  1. Describe the service experience in multiple ways from multiple perspectives
  2. Have someone else provide a descriptive testimonial about using your service
  3. Record (whether audio or video) you providing the service for a real customer
  4. Create a demonstration that many potential customers can experience at one time
  5. Develop a simulation of your service experience
  6. Offer samples of the service’s typical outputs or outcomes
  7. Sponsor a contest for a potential customer to receive the service free in for a large number of testimonials, reference conversations, etc.
  8. Offer the first step in your service free or at an introductory, low cost
  9. Demonstrate the service for someone else that will allow a prospect to become immersed in the service experience
  10. Create rich, easily-grasped comparisons to describe what the service experience will be like
  11. Align with an appropriate sponsorship and donate your in-kind service in exchange for inviting your prospective customers as guests

I’m certain this isn’t a comprehensive list, but they are ones our strategic thinking yielded that we have either considered or tried.

Specifically, we used number nine to help a local non-profit enhance its strategic planning. The mini-strategic planning session we designed and facilitated was designed around the organization’s objectives, but the objective for us was to create a real-life experience for a potential client who offered a large upside in actual business and referrals.

Additionally, the Building the Gigabit City event we created several years ago with Social Media Club of Kansas City was an example of number eleven. The large-scale Brainzooming event provided the opportunity to expose what we do to scores of potential clients as we sought to gain greater awareness and buzz within the city.

What customer experience strategy ideas do you think we missed?

If you sell and deliver intangible services, what do you think we missed on this list of potential ways to cost-effectively create a service experience demo for what you do? –  Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

 

Mike Brown

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If you’ve ever seen me present a strategic thinking workshop, you’ve likely heard me say, “People think strategic planning is boring, and I agree with them. I’m a strategic planner, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning. That’s why we make it fun!”

That’s not simply a throw-away line. It’s the absolute truth.

We consciously try to develop fun strategic planning activities.

The reason fun strategic planning activities are so important is they prompt people to want to engage with strategic planning at that moment plus make them eager to participate in the future.

5 Fun Strategic Planning Activities

Funny-Orange-2

“Fun strategic planning activities? You have to be kidding,” you may be thinking. No, we’re absolutely SERIOUS about the FUN part!

If you’d like to incorporate more fun into your strategic planning activities, here are a few ideas we’d offer:

1. Eliminating Boring Introductions

If you’re going for a more enjoyable strategic planning session, it’s important to start on a light note. This ice breaker dumps the typical boring self-introduction and uses introductions where everyone BUT you gets to tell something about you. Here’s one secret for even more fun – have one person make up all the answers they share. When you read this post, you’ll get what I mean by that!

2. Invite Katy Perry for Her Fashion Sense

You have to go see the picture to get this, but Katy Perry’s dress at this awards show a few years ago is all kinds of fun. If your challenge is reimagining old strategic ideas, this strategic thinking exercise will inject fun into your planning.

3. Put the Pin Prick to Your Competitors

This strategic thinking exercise involves targeting a pesky competitor and thinking about every way you can be a complete nuisance for them. You have to keep the ultimate ideas you choose legal and ethical. Before that point, however, anything is fair game and lots of fun!

4. What does Ghostbuster have to do with strategy?

By definition, you aren’t supposed to be able to anticipate black swan events. But when a client wants a black swan exercise, you figure out a way to give them a black swan exercise. This fun strategic planning activity gets its fun from the connection to Ghostbusters that inspired the exercise. Other than that, it should be a LITTLE more serious than the others here.

5. Try Some Shrimp!

This exercise is called “Shrimp,” but you’ll see a picture of a pumpkin throwing up pumpkin seeds on the original post. Yeah, it’s kind of gross, but this particular strategic thinking exercise is a blast. In workshops, I tell the story about when we used it with a group working on a NASCAR sponsorship program. They turned the exercise toward some pretty tawdry topics, yet came out with an idea that led to getting their company’s NASCAR driver on an ABC reality TV show!

Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun*

I wouldn’t necessarily advise trying to use ALL these fun strategic planning activities with one group. But if you do, let me know. THAT would be funny! – Mike Brown

 

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE  Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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