Having a powerful vision for your business is at the core of putting together a strategy that will enable you to achieve your business ambitions in 2019, but the strategic plan is in many ways only the map you will use on that journey, or the plot of a narrative.
Like mapping any journey or plotting a story, it’s as critical to know where you are starting from, as it is to visualise where you want to end up.
In many ways, the initial ‘audit’ is the most challenging part of the process of building an accurate and authentic, forward-looking business strategy.
The cornerstone of any audit must be a thorough understanding of the business, and not just from a marketing perspective.
In any audit I’ve undertaken I’ve had to do more than examine the effectiveness of marketing and advertising; more than dive into the data that digital marketing generates to examine return on ad spend (ROAS) or the accuracy and trackability of previous and existing activity.
In today’s business environment it is almost impossible to differentiate between marketing practice, and the business model. It is only in examining business data that the challenges and opportunities, that marketing activity must support and exploit, become clear.
In a modern, fast-moving and disruptive environment, tools such as a SWOT Analysis and the application of models such as the Pareto principle can, when properly exercised, challenge assumptions and provide deep insight that highlight opportunities for growth.
Managers, customers and front-line staff inform 360° feedback and it is vital that the business vision is one that all stakeholders share.
Business data needs to go beyond reporting top-line sales figures, examining sales at a granular level, it needs to look into the detail of costs and margins too.
An audit can be challenging to any business, because, like any form of diagnosis, its purpose is just so much to unearth what is wrong, as highlight what is right.
Once data has been collated, it must be analysed in a way that unlocks the value from the audit process – it provides the starting point for a successful Business Marketing Strategy. It is only through an effective audit that you can accurately benchmark a business – and a Gap Analysis can illuminate the challenge ahead, along with on-going tracking and measurement that can show what activity generates the greatest return.
So, whether you would choose to start the next phase of your businesses journey from here or not, the truth is that here is exactly where you are starting from. The better you understand what that position is, the more engaging your business narrative, and the more positive your journey will be.