The mistakes businesses make when planning their strategy

The mistakes businesses make when planning their strategy

Whatever size business you are in, from a start-up or SME to a global business, you will probably have had teething problems with your strategy. Here are some of the common problems we see!

You forget to consider the importance of marketing
Once you have developed your product or service, it’s not the time to rush the marketing – it all starts with a solid plan and marketing is a fundamental piece. Marketing planning can help you understand the 4 p’s – product, price, place and promotion. This means it will include who your competition is, and how you angle your product to let the USP shine. It will help you decided where to market it (based on digital platforms, or using more traditional methods) and will help you gauge the cost of doing so.

Underestimating project timescales
Have you heard of the planning fallacy? This was proposed in 1979 and is based on the ideas that predicting the time it takes to complete a task set in the future is usually subject to an optimistic bias where we underestimate the time needed, even if knowledge gained from previous tasks suggest that the time will be longer than expected. This is rife in business and when it comes to creating a strategy, beware of the danger of filling Q1 and Q2 with project completion dates, especially if certain projects need to be completed before you can generate revenue – this will affect your whole plan.

Not creating a company mission and vision
This is the framework behind all your plans, strategies, goals and work, so don’t rely on an old vision. Your vision needs to be personal to you and something that inspires – but it also needs to be grounded in logic. You might have a grand mission statement, but ideally your vision will include details such as:

  • Who your target audience is
  • What your service is and does
  • Why you are unique, and/or why the target audience would (and should!) choose you.

Your vision may indeed change due to competitor threats, a changing market and new technology (who had a mobile strategy 10 years ago?) so don’t drag out the same plan you had in 2003 and stick it on the wall!

Stifling creativity in your staff/ business/ service because of goals.
We all know about the danger of goals – consider the story of General Motors who decided that 29 would be their number of focus – teamed with a promise to recapture 29 percent of the American market, the share it had ebbed past in 1999. The number 29 became a corporate mantra, with lapel pins for executives to wear. The goal of reaching 29 became all encompassing, and the initiative failed as risky decisions were avoided in pursuit of the singular goal of 29% market capture. They never did order another set of lapel pins….

By having a specific goal, you may be blinding yourself to fixing issues or problems in a logical order. Ensure you have flexibility and stretch in your targets and numbers, and don’t forget to align your numbers with the ebb and flow of the seasons and other important factors in your sector.

Speak to us today about changing your strategy for a business that shows real growth and development.

Author Derek Findlayson

Changing Your Business Strategy – What Big Businesses Have Shown Us

Changing Your Business Strategy – What Big Businesses Have Shown Us

With an ever-changing list of strategies, from digital to print coming in and out of favour, how can you be sure if your latest change is right for you?

Here are some high profile business changes we can all learn from.

  • Aviva

    Offering funding for local charities Funding from £1,000 up to £25,000 was offered to 362 small and large organisations as part of a customer driven strategy. Named the Aviva Community Fund this stepped away from a product message and worked to build on their already large brand reputation. Despite having multiple brands, Aviva had previously focused on product led and micro brand campaigns, so this was a fantastic strategy pull to draw the business together. Appointing Andrew Brem as head of digital was a bold strategy for an insurance firm. Brem said of the appointment to The Drum “We’ve all seen how technology has changed the way we live our lives; from buying groceries online to controlling our heating from anywhere with an app. Now is the time to bring the digital revolution to insurance; transforming the way people can buy and use our products every day.” What we can learn: Look away from your competitors and your typical industry strategies and think bigger. See your business as a whole rather than competing departments, services or products and pull together a plan that aligns common goals, even across a wide portfolio.


  • ASOS

    A quick move into digital From the live feed on the Fashion Finder page that shows community users in items sold by asps and with social media manned by staff who respond with personality to each tweet, DM and message, ASOS has focused on making a personal brand that reflects its core demographics’ online habits, integrating as one with them. The ASOS Facebook page is currently one of the most popular retail brands on Facebook, with over 3.5 million fans, in comparison with other online retailers such as Boohoo’s 2.2 million and Net-a-Porter’s 1.3 million. (Source: LinkHumans) What we can learn: Experimental strategies will always have a place. Some will fail –’s own investment in logistics and a China start-up business caused the decline of profits of 22% – but by trying new tactics overall they are thriving.


  • Debenhams

    Undertaking new trends Debenhams teamed up with Buyapowa last Christmas in a move that allowed customers to engage with the brand and to encourage fans to purchase gift cards. Using the power of co-buying, the more people who commit to a purchase, the higher the value. This move into gamification was a strong one, and was perfectly timed for Christmas. Following this, Debenhams showed that online sales had grown by 46 per cent, with mobile accounting for a growth of 72 per cent. (Source: The Drum) What we can learn: Look to all areas of your business for results. A focus on gifting and gamification and mobile is not the most clear move when Christmas is typically strongly product focused in the sector, but with post January online sales increased by 11.7 per cent overall, the strategy has paid off. Speak to all your stakeholders to gather varied ideas.


  • ArgosDefying Falling Profits In 2012 Argos announced that 75 branches would close so it could fully embrace a new digital strategy to fly in the face of falling profits of around 37% pre-tax. By launching smartphone and tablet ads, online sales grew to represent 42 per cent of the retailer’s total sales, with 125 per cent coming through the new digital channels. (The Drum) What we can learn: Some changes won’t be popular with your new business strategy. They might involve a decreased work force in favour of investment in other areas. Don’t be afraid to grab the moment for a real shift when you can. Whatever the size of your business, if you want to make a strategic change you have a lot to consider! 1) Functional capabilities – what changes do I need to make to supply chain, marketing, staff levels, architecture and tools, technical abilities? 2) Budget and resource allocation – how much is available, to what ROI, and when can it be released? 3) R&D – do you understand what consumers really need, what they value, and how to deliver that to them? Speak to us today about changing your strategy for a business that shows real growth and development.

Author Derek Findlayson