Tactics before strategy is a dangerous game….

Whether you’re a new business breaking into the eCommerce space or you’re trying to grow your existing business, success will not be sustainable or even possible without a well thought out eCommerce strategy.

In this blog, I would like to demonstrate the importance of why more thought and time needs to be spent on the ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of your business.  The ‘Why’ is all about strategic planning whilst the ‘How’ is all about tactical planning.  The main purpose of these two practices is to ensure members of your team are spending their time doing things that drive your business’ growth instead of doing things that are of no value to it.   

So many small business owners love to get straight to the ‘What’ (Tactics) of their business skipping the ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ or at the least not spending enough time on these aspects.

At objectsource we have seen many businesses:

Waste money on the wrong marketing activities.

99% of the time this is down to not understanding who their customer is. Yes, it’s true you’ll know your customer better the longer you are in business the same as you would know your partner better the longer you’ve been in a relationship with them, however, you need to have something that initially attracts you to each other.  This is the same as attracting new customers and why will they like your product/service rather than a competitor’s. This all boils down to having a clear and concise marketing plan so you know who your customers are, and where and when to reach them.

Have nothing in place to measure performance

So many businesses do not have any key performance indicators in place so end up just spending money in the wrong areas because they don’t have a clear picture of what areas need the most attention. For example, increasing marketing spend to increase traffic to your website when you should be increasing spend on developing a new website or making tweaks to your current site.

Have no clearly defined and achievable objectives

When a business hasn’t developed a well-crafted business plan, objectives and goals are plucked out of the sky and this leaves your team feeling lost and unfulfilled in their roles.  It can also cause team member’s to work in silos and in different directions because they’re not clear where they need to go and that where they’re going is even the right place.

This is all caused by not taking time to understand your business and it’s market inside out.

How can I be more strategic and grow my business?

‘WHY’.

The ‘Why’ is all about understanding why the business exists.  There is nothing more important than understanding this. This is normally understood through a business plan but so many small businesses just don’t spend enough time to understand this. To make your business successful you need to spend more time thinking about why it exists and to do this you need to have answers to the following questions:

1)  What is your product/service?

2)  What needs do your products/services fulfil in the market?

3)  Who are your competitors?

4)  Who are your customers?

5)  Why will they choose you over your competitors?

6)  What do you plan to achieve and by when?

7)  Who is your team and how do they qualify to meet the challenges of the business?

8)  How do you find customers and what compels them to buy from you?

9)  How can we operate more efficiently?

10) Do the numbers work? (Revenue, net profit, operating expenses etc.)

Each of these questions require significant time for researching and planning to ensure your answers are accurate, relevant and valuable to your business vision.  They shouldn’t be based on ‘because you just know this’ but instead there should be a plan which clearly qualifies your answers demonstrating why you chose to set your business up in way you have and the direction you want to bring it in.

‘HOW’.

The ‘How’ comes after having understood the ‘Why’ and it is more about how you’re going to do things. Examples of tactical plans might be:

Email Strategy

This might include:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • The different types of emails you will communicate to your customers through whether that be an order confirmation, newsletter, account registration etc
  • Short-term objectives for each email type
  • Key metrics 

Product Strategy

This might include:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Pricing
  • Merchandising plan
  • Content preparation
  • Marketing budget (for product or product range)
  • Marketing channels
  • Key Metrics

Having tactical plans in place allows the teams who might be executing email campaigns, managing products or managing social activity to fully focus on creating successful campaigns with the complete clarity of what their objectives are and how their performance will be measured.  This will in turn increase the quality of work that is produced and keep everyone performing in unison.

‘WHAT’.

The ‘What’ comes as part of a tactical plan which details what is going to be done. This is where a lot of business owners feel comfortable and rightly so as this is to do with coming up with ideas to drive their business forward.  However, this can also be their achilles heel as you can come up with great ideas for your marketing campaigns but if they’re not targeted correctly they fail or at the least they won’t provide you with the sales revenue you were hoping and this is where resources get drained.

Choosing what to do without having a clear and cohesive strategy can make you feel like your company is moving from pillar to post.  It creates a reactive culture which leads to employees feeling unfulfilled so spend time on your ecommerce strategy.

Tactics are important of course but they should have substance, meaning they need to be borne out of a clearly defined strategy.

Remember the money is in the thinking not in the doing.

 

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