Most companies create a business strategy and then design a separate document for their marketing strategy. Although that makes sense on some level, I’ve recently found that combining the documents helps to create better alignment between strategic company goals and how marketing segmentation and messaging should be developed.
In my experience, when companies create separate documents, they rarely go back and look at the business strategy goals they created to make sure there is alignment. But everything that the marketing team is charged with doing relates to those strategic business goals, including growth and brand awareness. If you don’t link them together, it’s no wonder there is not much progress on strategic business goals.
Here are some tips on combining your business and marketing strategies into one document, as well as why you can gain more insights and synergy through this tactic.
Before doing the work to combine strategic thinking and action, it’s important to get buy-in from everyone in the organization who will be charged with thinking and working differently as part of this integrated planning and implementation process. Hold a company-wide meeting to explain the thought process and benefits of taking this new approach. Emphasize that it breaks silos and encourages tighter collaboration. Understanding the value to the individual, team and company can increase everyone’s motivation to make this significant change.
Build an integrated strategy document.
The next step is to develop a document that brings all of your strategies and tactics together. This is your opportunity to understand the goals, targets and motivations of each department of the company. From there, you can find areas of alignment. When you see gaps or differences between the goals of each department, identify why they exist and determine if you can adjust to increase alignment and integrate with the company’s overall goals.
The integrated strategy document should contain all the components of a regular business or marketing strategy, just combined into one, including goals, tactics, messaging, intended outcomes and metrics to assess results.
Continue joint meetings.
The joint discussion shouldn’t be a one-off, either. Plan quarterly meetings that revisit your integrated strategy to assess results, necessary changes and next steps. These meetings help to reinforce the alignment idea and make it a habit in both thinking and action. Update and send out a new integrated document on a quarterly basis so that everyone across the organization is in the loop about the focus and tasks that need their attention.
Improve reporting mechanisms.
Beyond creating an integrated document and sharing information with each other, there may need to be vast changes in reporting so that key team members can more readily share information, data and insights, as well as improve how they measure and analyze results related to objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). This may take some time to accomplish, but the input of various team and department members can facilitate how reporting structures are altered or evolve over time.
Maintain ongoing communication.
Communicate regularly with the organization on the results of the integration, emphasizing the need for alignment and what it has produced in terms of achievements. Use numerous platforms to share and reiterate the importance of integrating both strategies, including town hall meetings, video conferencing with remote staff, newsletters and social media (for external audiences). As well, add collaboration platforms and regular communication sessions to facilitate sharing.
Since each area informs the other — marketing providing insights on trends and changing audience preferences that influence business strategy and business goals that raise the bar on what marketing needs to achieve — this ongoing communication and alignment is critical to success.