Where do you want your small business to go? How do you plan on getting there? What’s your timeframe for reaching your goals? All of these questions tie into what is known as the strategic planning process. It’s your vision for what you plan to accomplish over the course of time.
Practicing strategic planning is essential in every area of your business. Whether it be expanding your product line, growing your staff, or exploring more productive communication methods, strategic planning is essential. Today, we will be looking specifically at how the strategic planning process ties in with digital strategy and digital transformation, and how you can use it in your own business.
Step One: Assess Your Situation
It’s important to take a good look at your digital presence as it currently stands. What is the quality of your website? How are you using your social media platforms? What’s working for you and what isn’t? Be sure to take note of what you like and don’t like about all aspects of your online brand: design, content, tone, layout, functionality, etc.
Making a physical list of all of these items can give you good insights as to where you are and where you are hoping to go. This can serve as your vision statement.
Step Two: Develop Your Strategy
You’ve taken an inventory of what you want to change; now it’s time to flesh out the details. Say, for example, you want to build up your presence on social media. You may begin doing research on what others have done and writing down how you can use their strategies as your own.
At this point, you’re still in the hypothetical phase, so write down everything you want to accomplish and what steps you will take to do so. As you go through the process, begin narrowing down what you know is possible for your business, and lay out some timelines as to when certain steps need to be taken.
Step Three: Strategically Implement Your Plan
It’s time to put your plan into action! Once you’re certain what you hope to accomplish has been fully fleshed out, it’s time to do it. Assign employees to specific tasks in order to make sure everything gets done. Do you need someone to make a Facebook page? Sounds like a job for a PR/customer outreach representative. Or maybe you are planning on calling a third party in order to help you through your digital transformation. Someone should set that up in a timely manner.
Whatever it is that needs to get done, be clear with expectations, who is completing each step, and when it needs to be done by. This is when having your written list, plan, and timeline will come in handy. If at any point you feel lost or overwhelmed, it can be helpful to go back to these. You’ve already planned where you need to go from here.
Step Four: Review Your Strategy
When each stage is completed, it’s important to go back and see what went well (and what didn’t). This probably won’t be the last time you use strategic planning to work on your business, so having documented evidence of your progress can be helpful for future projects.
In the interim, it’s important to make sure that what you worked for doesn’t fall to the wayside. Sure, you may have done a week-long campaign to increase brand awareness, but that doesn’t mean once it’s over you should let your social media presence fall to the wayside. That’s where these reviews are important. They give you a clear end to a certain project and then give you a little bit of time to breathe before the next one (during which you can start making plans about where you’ll go from here).
All-in-all, it’s about finding the process that works best for your individual situation. Your strategic planning may take several months or only a few days. It mainly depends on what exactly you are hoping to accomplish in the long run.
At Vervology, we make it our mission to help small businesses with all of their goals, big or small. If you need assistance with your strategy, we’d be happy to lend a hand.