We often get the question from CEO’s: “How do I know if my company has a strong strategic plan?” Followed by, “If my company doesn’t have an effective strategy, how the heck do we go about getting one?”

In the world of strategic market planning there are hundreds of theories but luckily, there are a few tools that you can use to check your strategic plan quickly. We’ve included here a handy set of references that will help you benchmark your strategic program and also highlighted a “Before and After” Case Study of a middle market b2b company.

Moving from best efforts to best practices

Most company’s strategic plans rely upon the best instincts and efforts of its leadership team. This process could be termed an In Strategy. These gut instincts are often employed to determine an organization’s most important decisions. If executives guess right all is well. But if they guess wrong, disaster can be felt. If you see yourself in this situation here are three best practices that will help guide your company to success.

Best Practice #1: Make sure your leadership team is fully aligned on what the top three strategic initiatives are, and are working as one cohesive group on achieving them.

Best practice #2: Make sure everyone in your company understands your value proposition and can state it in a simple sentence or two. An example might be, “Our Company invented the XYZ Product that can save your company up to 50% on your energy costs during the first year.”

Best Practice #3: Ensure your company has an objective brand asset valuation. This means you know what your brand’s strengths and weaknesses are against your top competitors. We are not talking about your logo or website. Those are not your brand. Rather, your brand is what others think about your company as a distinctive organization that they associate positively with what they need.

A company we recently worked with had a tremendous technical skill-set and naturally marketed their company using their in-house techno-speak thinking this would impress their customers. In actuality, it turned them off. So much so, the only people who really understood what they were talking about were the employees inside their company. While we favor an organization developing its own way of doing things and talking about them, customers need to readily understand the communications and be able to respond easily.

Through a series of active workshops we gathered their services offerings into their language first, then interpreted these service descriptions, and then rewrote them in simple every day language. The net result was more effective marketing presentations leading to an increase of business development.

This is one example of how a company improved their strategic market planning. For other examples, click here for additional ideas and approaches.