In order to develop a strategy, you need to step back from your business. You’re going to be asking a lot of questions and finding a lot of new answers. You may also find yourself going in a different direction to the one you thought.
In the previous article we established why you need a marketing strategy, so now let’s cover an introduction to developing that marketing strategy.
You need to take a cool, dispassionate look at your business: how big are you? How many people do you employ? What skills and resources do you have (including money, software, equipment etc.)? Then look outside to what’s happening in the marketplace, and beyond to what’s coming next, which could bite you on the bum or provide a golden opportunity.
If there’s a big change you want to make in your business, a strategy is a much better idea than just developing a short-term plan. You may be looking to launch new products and services, or move into a new marketplace, or to grow the business and take it to the next level.
There are a few rules you need to understand
The “macro environment” is the term we use to describe what’s going on outside, in the wider world.
I often find that the people I work with are in business because they’re really good at what they do, but they don’t have a marketing or business background, so this is a new world for them. They’re keen to learn and apply these aspects to their company.
The macro environment is what sits beyond our market and competitors, but can have a massive impact on our business. Two areas where we might find rules are in the legal and political sectors.
You may discover there is a piece of policy or legislation that’s come into being, whether in the UK, the EU or elsewhere in the world, and there is nothing you can do about it. Health and safety, pensions, healthcare, national insurance and taxation are all things that go on all the time, but we can’t influence them at all.
The only way anyone could influence these rules would be a large multinational, such as an oil company, where they have the ear of someone in government, or can pay money to lobby politicians or congress to make a change.
We may learn that there’s a piece of legislation coming which will affect us. Sometimes this is good news, but sometimes it can be a deal-breaker. I’ve worked with a number of clients who were coaches and trainers looking to monetise what they did by creating online courses to serve the European market. But the EU changed its rules on VAT/sales tax, and with one fell swoop it means that a UK company has to file a VAT return for every single EU country it trades in.
If you’re selling a product worth £20 or £30, it’s not practical to fill in a tax return, so these people end up not doing business within the EU. Macro factors such as this can affect even tiny organisations.
Geopolitical shifts can be a good thing
Changes in trading relationships with different countries can have a huge impact. For instance, a company specialising in geo-science with expert knowledge of Iran found that the lifting of trading restrictions and the embargo against Iran meant that they could finally start to get return on investment on the work they’ve put in.
The further out you’re looking, the more time you’ve got to do something about it. If something is changing in six months or a year, you can prepare for that.
We’ll look further at the macro environment next time.
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