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Linus Gregoriadis
Linus Gregoriadis 5 November 2020

5 Things You Need to Know About Company Strategy

A new book called The Strategy Manual is recommended reading for marketers who want to know more about business strategy and related frameworks and models that can help both you and your company. This article contains more information about the book, and a short video interview with the book’s author, Mike Baxter. Read on to learn more about why getting your company strategy right is so important.

Check out our short video Q&A with the author and then read on for the summary of what we learned from the interview and book.

#1. Strategy is for everyone.

Strategy is most obviously for the leaders within an organisation, whether they are overseeing the whole business or a particular department or function. They need to set the direction of the business and make sure the right structures and building blocks are in place. But individuals within a business should also have a strategy to help secure and build their own future, and to contribute to the organisation’s success. Strategy can seem abstract but there are tools in the book that make it relevant and actionable. 

#2. Strategy is vital for marketing.

For marketing as a function, strategy is particularly important because it is inherently ‘future-facing’, according to Mike Baxter. If marketing is to be seen as strategic rather than a mainly tactical department, then it obviously needs its own strategy which aligns with overall business objectives. He says we should be asking: “What am I going to do today that is going to make people more interested in my brand, or more interested in my products and services, tomorrow, and next week, and next month?

 #3. Companies need a vision for a better future.

American eyewear company Warby Parker is cited as a great example of a business with a clear vision (excuse the pun) and strategy. The retailer has evolved into a direct-to-consumer brand offering glasses at an affordable price. As well as focusing and executing effectively when it comes to ‘business as usual’, they have also helped to build their brand by focusing on corporate social responsibility. They have a strong reputation as a good employer and for being a company that cares about the environment and its supply chain. All companies should be asking: “How are we going to take our place in the world, and make sure that we discharge our responsibilities well?”

#4. The strategy should stay the same, but the strategic plan can change.

Another key takeaway from the interview and book is that there is big difference between a company’s strategy and its strategic plan. A company strategy is a vision for where the company wants to get to in the long term, whether that is five or 20 years.

Mike argues, for example, that many companies are typically changing their strategic plans due to Covid-19, but that their strategies should remain the same: “The strategic plan has got to be designed to change, it's got to yield and adapt, it's got to have a certain degree of resilience. And it's got to have a certain degree of agility. But that's not the strategy. The strategy remains as far as possible, the same, and the strategic plan changes in response to circumstances.”

#5. Digital transformation may or may not be strategic.

For many organisations, digital transformation is intrinsically linked to strategy, but at the same time digital transformation may not necessarily constitute a strategy. If digital transformation is about changing the fundamental nature of the business then it’s absolutely a strategy, he says. But in some cases, he explains, digital transformation is more operational and process-driven.

He adds: “The main strategy should be no more than a couple of pages long, and should be backed up by a strategic plan, a digital transformation strategic plan, but it's vitally important the behind-the-scenes the core objectives of the digital transformation strategy connect directly to the core objectives of the whole organisational strategy.”  

As well as publishing the new book on Amazon, Mike Baxter’s company Goal Atlas is releasing a range of resources and models for free under Creative Commons licensing. You can sign up if you want to be notified.   

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