Six ways to lead with strategy

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Strategy is a game changer. It’s what separates the players from the industry leaders. If you want to change the game and take the lead, here are six keys to success.
Brand is your competitive strategy. Brand is a statement of why the business matters and the gaping hole that would emerge if your company didn’t exist. It’s the passion that drives the organization.
Is your business making the world a better place or transforming your industry? Make sure your company matters in order to achieve or sustain a position as market-share leader.
Company culture is your people strategy. Culture is a part of your brand. If your people aren’t delivering your brand promise to the marketplace at every presale, sale and post-sale touch point, then your brand doesn’t have a leg to stand on. You don’t want customers to experience less than what they expect or inconsistency.
A strong culture values people and provides support, training and management structure so employees can succeed in delivering the company’s promise.
Marketing strategy paves the way for you to grow, build a reputation, become known and understood. A solid marketing strategy starts with a clear vision of company goals and what needs to happen to make those numbers a reality.
By looking longer term with a three- to five-year vision, it addresses the necessary posturing and planning needed to lead the company to its next level of growth.
A marketing strategy isn’t developed in a vacuum; it takes the entire leadership team to chart the enterprise in the right direction.
With a clear marketing vision, the sales strategy can kick into high gear. Start with understanding how many new relationships will drive growth and what industries or product segments are targets.
Establishing a strategy for targeting prospects and driving leads is complex in today’s online, voice mail and mobile world, yet we know that products and services are being consumed at unprecedented levels. Are you getting your share?
If you have a strong company brand and culture, you probably already focus on customer service. If you knew that 80 percent of your customers were at risk, would that motivate you to develop a stronger customer-retention strategy?
Most companies’ customers are merely satisfied with the service they receive. That means they’re willing to look at other options. Only when you exceed expectations do they become loyal customers.
Having a strong marketing strategy to grow the business is meaningless if your customer attrition is too high. You work hard and spend a lot to attract new business. Strategize to keep them by exceeding expectations.
Good planning and strategy deserves to be implemented — with gusto! Any other implementation strategy will affect results.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t walk before you run, but too often companies handicap their organizations by underfunding implementation (you know who you are). It’s like having a shiny new Ferrari in your garage but you never gas it up to drive it. Be committed and focused to stay on track and hit the established milestones.

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.