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4 Critical Questions to Guide Successful Strategy Planning: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Nov 14, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking critical questions to guide strategy planning.. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: 4 Critical Questions to Guide Successful Strategy Planning

It’s that time of the year again…strategy planning! What worked for you this year? How do you want to position yourself next year? Guide successful strategy planning by asking what you want to be when you grow up, what needs to be true in order to achieve it, what success looks like, and whether your organization is inspired and motivated. Let’s knock the next year out of the park. This episode covers everything from planning to inspiration. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you go about successful strategy planning?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Is your organization inspired and motivated?
  • What needs to be true in order to achieve it?
  • How do you determine your KPIs?
  • What does success look like?
  • Where does lead generation come into play?
  • What’s so cool about Factory 52?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • 4 Critical Questions to Guide Successful Strategy Planning
    • [0:00] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
    • [0:31] Anne Candido, April Martini
    • [0:35] How do you go about successful strategy planning?
    • [1:32] What do you want to be when you grow up?
    • [4:54] ForthRight People
    • [9:16] Tech (Technology)
    • [10:26] What needs to be true in order to achieve it?
    • [11:26] KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
    • [19:35] Do you want to stand out in your industry and get more sales? Show you’re different to attract and retain top talent? Build a brand that drives real business results? Grab your Brand Strategy Workbook at:
    • [20:14] What does success look like?
    • [22:42] Lead Generation (Lead Gen)
    • [30:51] Is your organization inspired and motivated?
    • Marketing Smarts Moments

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts. I’m Anne Candido and I am April Martini. And today we’re going to talk about a topic many of you are probably in the midst of and that is strategy planning. And specifically, we’re going to address four critical questions to guide successful strategy planning. So as we nearing the end of the calendar year, oftentimes, we reflect on what worked in this previous year that we’ve just endured, and how we want to position our business to rock it in a new year. And even if you’re in fiscal years across as a calendar year, it’s really good time to take a pause and see how it’s going. Yes,

April Martini 1:02
and we talk about strategy all the time. But it’s one of those words that can really feel pretty nebulous. So for the purposes of this episode, we want to focus in on strategy as it relates to the business decisions used to actually guide your business. And I guess even more specifically than that, defining and getting the organization on board with strategies that will actually help you grow your business. Yes. And

Anne Candido 1:28
so with that, let’s get into four critical questions to guide successful strategy planning. Alright, the first one, what do you want to be when you grow up? Alright, so it’s imperative that everyone is working towards the same vision, if not, the efforts will feel very siloed. And your impact will be diluted, because in order for our business to grow and scale efficiently, and effectively, you need the full power of the brand and the business behind you. And this includes all the people who are putting forth all that brainpower and effort to make progress. And if you want them to unite towards this common singular goal, and ordered, like I said, to get all that power that you need in order to actually move the needle because it can be so hard now to move the needle when it comes to business. Now the challenge usually arises when you ask the question, what is your objective or goal? Or what is your business objective or goal? This is a traditional question ask when you’re starting strategy planning. And everyone generally then answers it with the same answer, which is to grow the business. So that makes it feel like everybody is aligned. But it’s a thing but the truth because all you have to do is ask him one additional question, and you’re gonna see everybody’s on the same page. And that question is, how, how are we going to grow the business, then you will see these answers will vary based on the lens that everyone lives in based on how they’re interacting or how they’re in the business. And generally, it’s also reflective of the way that they get compensated and rewarded. So they’re looking at it through their slice of the pie versus the pie in general, which is why it’s really good to ask the question this way, what do you want to be when you grow up? It feels a little flippant, but it’s also very human. And so it gets you into a mindset that you can reflect on your business almost as a person like, okay, as it’s maturing, as its enduring everything that’s enduring, like, what are we doing it all for? And what do we hope to be when it actually realizes everything that we’re putting into it right? Now, the other great thing about this question is it generally transcends anyone’s function or anyone’s role, because it’s a bigger overarching vision, frankly, that allows the whole business or trying to motivate the whole business towards that one singular opportunity that you’re trying to realize, Okay? Now, some sub questions that help you uncover what this could look like are, what do you want people to say about you or say about your business? So this is a reflection of presence of credibility of reputation, things, we talk a lot about? What is the extent of your reach? Sorry, what is that footprint look like? Is it more localized, this is a broader, what motivates you to be at your best, or what gives you the most prize? What gets you up in the morning, what gets you excited to, to work on this business and work in this business and help this business succeed? And what will make us successful in our market? So as you’re looking at it, your competition around you what what is differentiating you, and what is helping you to really show up in a lot of what we will all experience is very crowded spaces in a way that people are seeing you becoming aware of you eliciting your engagement, all of those fundamental things needed in order to grow a business. So once you understand this, you can break it down into the more tangible and actionable business goals that are reflective of that vision. So let me give an example to kind of pull this all together. And this is one that me and April talk a lot about with progressive, forthright people because even though we’re heading into our fourth year or fifth year, it’s a constant conversation with us too, because it’s a constant evolution of what But the environment looks like around us. So we have to constantly rethink and reconsider what our strategy is and what we want to be when we grow up. So we’ve debated, I’ll give you just an example. I’m not saying that this is where we’re are here. So I’ll I don’t want any of our clients to be sending us emails go away, what you’re not going to do this anymore. That is not what I’m saying. I’m just gonna give you an example of some of the things that we ponder when we’re thinking about what we want to be when we grow up. So we’ve talked about things about being like the best strategic agency in Cincinnati, we’ve talked about being the best end to end agency within Cincinnati and broader I mean, so you can see how some of those nuances would really impact what our strategy would look like, and how we would start manifesting that into goals. And frankly, how we do business. So we’re going to face the fact that and we want we want to be when we grow up is the best strategic agency, then that’s a different set of skills to market, that’s a different set of clients to go acquire to different way of acquiring clients, frankly, than to say, hey, we want to be the best end to end agency, right, which is we want to do all the things. So the way that you go about doing business looks different, the goals associated with that look different. Now, also, if we want to say, hey, we want to do it in Cincinnati, versus we want to do in the region versus we want to do it nationally, that looks different, right? So even me and April as a party have to aligning on that is super critical. Because if I’m thinking, hey, I want to do you know, be the best strategic agency in Cincinnati and April’s like, No, I want to be the best end to end agency across the country, we’re not on the same page, we’re not going to be simpatico and the way that we need to operate in order to be able to drive our business and move our business forward. And you can see how that could cause some friction, you can see how there would cause dilution in our impact, because we can’t put the full power of the brand behind it. Now, once we get what that looks like, then you can start then to drill down with the business goals. And so for example, if we say, Hey, we’re going to be the best strategic agency in Cincinnati, our goal may be to build a strategy practice that attracts three clients a month, so you can see then it starts drilling that down. But if you’re already or you’re only looking through it from the viewpoint of, hey, I’m in strategy in this bigger, broader company. And so for me, it’s important to build a strategy practice. But the business is looking at it from a different lens or through a different lens, you can see then how that could become an issue. Yeah,

April Martini 7:33
and I would just say, this can get uncomfortable for many people.

Anne Candido 7:38
Oh, yes. So I love the

April Martini 7:41
setup to this point, which is like, everyone just says, like, we’re gonna grow the business. And it’s like you clap your hands, you’re like, Okay, now let’s go for drinks. Like I think about the strategic sessions that I’ve been in, or you spend the next four hours talking around how this might occur, right. So I think the point here is, know that it will be uncomfortable, know that it gets a little bit more into the emotional underbelly, if you will, of the conversation. But the worst thing you can do is waste time and money on a strategic plan that doesn’t actually give a vision everyone is clear on and aligned to, you spend all this time doing quote, unquote, strategic planning, but then the outcomes are kind of whatever each individual person in that room interprets it as, and then subsequently, what they tell other people and how they interpret it. And it’s kind of like becomes the game of telephone, right? Where there’s no focal point for those conversations. And so then you’re kind of left with like, okay, we’re supposed to grow the business. But to Anne’s point, is the strategy person might run this way. And I as the new business person might run this way. And I as the account manager might run this way, and me as the lead on the biggest client goes this way. And it’s like, well, why did you even do it in the first place? Because you didn’t reach any actual outcomes, although you feel like you may have been aligned in the discussion. Yeah.

Anne Candido 9:00
And I think this event shows up. More, evidently, when you have multiple businesses that are all working together under a common umbrella, which is a very common structure now, especially in the tech industries and in some other industries. And so when you think about the individual business and how they’re operating, and you want them to operate somewhat autonomously, but it all has to ladder up to a bigger vision for the overall company, because that umbrella is what fuels all the other businesses, you have to think about it in those terms. And that’s where a lot of times the uncomfortableness can come into because there’s sometimes it feels like there’s competing priorities or there is a lot of quote unquote baggage that comes along with that and there is a need to reset set expectations to some extent, which is going to lead me right well writing into the next point, but I think the important thing before we get into that next point is to think about the fact that If doing this feels uncomfortable, don’t worry about it. Because what you’re going to realize is that you are a critical how, how to achieve it, right? So a lot of times people start to feel disconnected with that, because they’re like, it’s not my day to day. But really realize within it, you have to sit in it in order to realize that you are a key how? All right, so moving on to the second question that’s critical to guys successful strategy planning, is what needs to be true in order to achieve it. Right now, this is where I was just leading into which is the house. So if your big overarching goal is to be the best strategic agency in Cincinnati, and your strategist is like, but we need a strategy practice. Great. That is one of the house. That’s what we think we need in order to achieve it. So hopefully, what I just said, if it wasn’t clear, started to solidify their points build on each other. Okay, cool. All right. So just to, again, build and extrapolate on this one, this question of what needs to be true in order to achieve it actually serves several purposes. So first, it gives a voice all functions and what their role is in achieving this vision. Like I just hopefully clarified. Second, it invites commentary where the barriers and challenges may be, which is extremely, extremely important. And third, translates nicely into an action plan and KPI. So you can start to get really clear about what actions are going to help you to deliver this big vision that you have for yourself and for your business. If I was going to sum that up, I would say it serves as a temperature check of how people are feeling and helps them to reorient and to reset priorities. And it’s kind of like a moment in time where it’s like, okay, we grind to look and we’re gonna reflect, and we’re going to make a pivot or not, or we’re going to intentionally decide to continue to go on the way that we’ve been going up, but it is a moment in time, and it signals a moment in time that you are going to reset something. So it also helps to identify tangible action oriented next steps that are progressing division versus people just saying that that won’t work, which tends to be very typical, especially in Yes, very and mature organizations where people have been there a long time. And that can be very frustrating for a lot of people who are trying to instigate some change or some progress, and you have somebody who’s been there for 30 years. I mean, like, we did that 20 years ago, and that didn’t work. We did that, you know, 50 years ago, that didn’t work. And you’re sitting there going, that was 20 years, 50 years ago, it was a totally different world, which is totally legit. But it’s hard to pull people out of that negative downward spiral and do it in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re discounting the legacy that they have of understanding and expertise. And so this question can be very helpful to forward that conversation. It’s like, well, that’s great. Thank you for telling me that didn’t work 20 years ago, what would need to be true in order for that to work now? So it’s a forwarding conversation. It’s a conversation about progress. Now, I said I was gonna get back to these barriers and challenges. And I want to do that right now is that the biggest mistake some leaders make is that they don’t listen to the barriers and the challenges. They want to blow by these again, for the sake of progress. It’s like, oh, we dismiss them or like, oh, well, that’s not really that big of a deal, or happened 10 years ago or so. So those things may be true, but we can’t ignore them because they are relevant to the person who has brought them up and need to be addressed and respected in that way. And guess what, sometimes, a lot of times these people can be right, some people just have these little bowls that they can see into the future. And you want to make sure you give it its due diligence. So I would suggest in this case that you do a bit of a risk analysis, you take these barriers or challenges you think through them, and you try to, to identify what is the risk that this could have on our ability to be able to deliver against this vision and what’s the likelihood that it’s going to happen. And then you draw a line in the sand, at some point within that risk assessment, say these are the ones that we are going to action against. And these are the ones that we are not because we feel like they’re lower risk, or they’re maybe there’s some point in the future, and we’re going to plan for them. But they’re not in the immediate thing right now, for this point where we’re developing the strategy. But then what’s really important is that you need to report back to your organization about what you heard and what you’re addressing, so that they feel heard. And we’re going to talk about that point later. But just around now, things that we typically see that are the barriers and challenges that we know are super critical to do not blow by him are things like staffing. So how are you staffing up? What are the current people and what’s the culture like in your organization, reputation building, if especially if you’re trying to expand Do you have the reputation or to expand? Do you have the awareness and and the cloud that you need in order to go do that capacity? If you’re going to start scaling? Do people have enough understanding of what you’re doing so that it translates into their day to day and so they don’t feel overwhelmed by having deliver and even more, and then they worry about being able to deliver in a quality way. So these are ones that are definitely shouldn’t be ignored, because they can definitely be business breakers.

April Martini 15:09
Yeah, I think this question is formatted in a way too. And I like what you said about pushing things forward, but it has a positive intent to it. So when you say it as what needs to be true in order to achieve it, I think that does help manage a lot of that backlash that often comes up from people that have been around a long time, or all those other examples you gave to where it’s like, okay, fine, hear you on that point. But like you said, What can we do then to change it this time around? And I think that this requires discipline, because I think same as your your point about blowing past these in favor of progress. It’s the same thing where it’s hard to keep coming back and saying, I hear you, okay, but like, how can we turn the conversation? How can we move in this direction, and sometimes, look, those people you’re going to have to shut down. But overall, I think that this gives you a really good chance of helping everyone to come along on the journey, but also have open honest and transparent conversation, because the forum feels welcoming, and with a positive bent in order to do so. So that everyone in the room feels like it’s an okay place to share what they’re thinking. And then absolutely on the other side of it, making sure that things that can’t be ignored aren’t ignored. And I think this is especially true when you go back to the organization, it’s a little bit of an aside, but I was thinking about through the lens of when I wasn’t in the rooms to do the strategic planning and what would happen. And to your point of like, the barriers that you can’t ignore stuff, like staffing or capacity, or you know, those types of things, I remember being at several agencies where we did not have our house in order from just like the day to day of how the work should and, you know, needed to happen. And that pressure falls to the worker bees, right, the ones of us that are on the boards, and doing the research and all of those types of things. And so we would watch leadership go off and do strategic planning for X amount of days, while we’re sweating away trying to make things work. And a lot of times what would come back would be absent of any sort of even acknowledgement sometimes of these challenges that already existed, that we’re only going to get bigger, by not figuring out ways to solve them in order to go and get to the bigger strategic goals. And so I remember it feeling everything from tone deaf to just disheartening to undue pressure for the people that are back at the office, trying to keep the ship righted to have it come back and feel like it was out of touch. And so I think with this point, it gives the framework for actually getting to what needs to happen inclusive of things that are happening currently that need to be addressed in order to have any shot at reaching that strategic vision.

Anne Candido 18:14
Yeah, that’s a good point. We’re going to elaborate on that a little bit more a little bit later. But I think, to your point it what it also does is it it brings into view gaps in knowledge, understanding expertise, and a lot of ways that we might have ignored up into that point. Yes. And so for example, if somebody is like in it, and they’re trying to get through it, and they’re telling you, we can’t do it, because we don’t know, or we don’t have this skill, or we don’t understand the way that the world is working. Those are things that can be fixed, right? Those are things where you can go out and get that knowledge, you could get that skill, you can get that expertise. So it is a really good way of also kind of seeing where those gaps are where people are feeling. Those gaps are back to the barriers and challenges. But I think in a much more tangible way, in a way that allows you to then have action that you can then go do versus being like, well, since we don’t have the skill, I guess we can’t do this, or since you know that that’s a really good point. Because, you know, the world is like this. And you know, and without really understanding what it is that you’re actually dealing with in this ever changing environment. Yeah, yes. Yeah, really good point. Yeah. The third critical question that guy successful strategy planning is what does success look like? So you can’t develop KPIs unless you know what success looks like. And many people are gonna think that’s a Deus statement, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve dug into people’s KPIs and they are based on very arbitrary just numbers or percentages or industry standards. Words that really have no bearing or no, they don’t have the understanding of the bearing they have on the business at all. So what tends to happen, you know, when you’re setting these arbitrary numbers is that they’re based on something that is your current state of understanding or your current environment. So it could be how many people we have working on it. So we intentionally we have set our numbers accordingly, if we only have one person working on it, versus if we have 10 people working on it, that will set our KPIs or success metrics, and they will fluctuate based on that. We’ll set them on based on what we think is reasonable. What do we think we can achieve in like two months? Versus, hey, if I wanted to achieve this in two months, what must be true? Or what what do I need to do in order to achieve that? A lot of times we set and based on what other people are doing in the industry, it’s okay, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us, right without actually even thinking about how their organization is structured, how the industry is treating them, where are they in that respect and credibility in that journey with their customer, client or consumer, a lot of times we sandbagging wants to have expectations too high, right? So we’re going to set our success based on something that we feel like it’s reasonable for us to achieve that we’re not going to get in trouble if we don’t. But the problem is, is that you can do all that. But then what we send tend to hear all the time is that people get frustrated because they don’t get the results they want. So they like well, we’re meeting these numbers, and we’re doing this and then they’re like, but we don’t have this greater vision, we’re not realizing this greater vision that we set out for yourself for ourselves. And this is where me and April see this all the time, it’s like if you’re going to start in the middle, right, if that’s where your perspective is, and then just hope for the best. A lot of times, that’s not going to work out for you. Okay, you have to start with the end in mind and work your way back. So you can have reasonable numbers or reasonable KPIs in order to set success against. So let me give an example to actually kind of bring this to life. Okay, so a lot of times me and April, we get pulled in to do lead generation. And lead generation can be one of those arbitrary numbers that a lot of people set, okay. So they’ll say, hey, we’d really like to have 10 new clients just this month. And you if you’re in a consumer based business, you probably have more. So there’s a there’s elements of scale here. But you could just track with me with this little exercise. So when you’re thinking about that, I need 10 new people this month, you have to think about what’s my success been in converting all these other people that I’m including, in order to get 10 a month, it could be 100, you need to court, it could be 1000, you need to court. So you need to kind of start keep backtracking that too. Okay, if I need to have 100 to get 10? Well, where am I getting those is social my main channel in order to get those well, then on social, I might need to reach out to 10,000 people to get 100 that come through. So when you’re thinking about it, instead of just thinking about it from okay, if I want 10 people that maybe I just need to probably reach out to like 50, you have to really think through it with the the logical conversion numbers in mind to think about what that number actually looks like. And what a lot of people will do is they’ll dismiss it because of like, 10,000 people how in the heck, I’m gonna go do that, then you have to think about it then in terms of time, right? And you have to start breaking it down, well, you don’t need get then 10,000 people, maybe it’s not on a daily basis, maybe you’re gonna get 10 new customers then over or 10 new clients over two months, you know, so you start to think about what that looks like. But you can ignore and hope that you’re just get lucky that hey, if I reach out to 50 people, maybe I’ll get 10. Yeah, right. So it starts to become like what success looks like in order to get 10 clients. You have to backup what those other success metrics are in order to be able to deliver on your ultimate success criteria. And that is what the KPIs look like. So you can see now why it’s almost impossible to set KPIs unless you actually really know what success looks like for yourself, and really know what that means for your business. So we assumed that the 10 class was going to be what you needed for your business now, and sometimes, like what people will tell us is like, Well, we really don’t know. It could be 10, it could be 20, it could be 100. Well then test and learn and find out. So give yourself a period of time, where you’re channeling through some of these marketing channels and trying to understand which ones are working for you. And then get your conversion numbers down, start to think about what those actually look like put a stake it’s like, Well, I think it’s about 10%. Well, great, test that out. It may be 20. And maybe five, you just never know. But the end of the day, you need to do this due diligence because it’s the only way you’re going to be able to really figure out what success looks like so that your strategy can have teeth and that you can progress it in a way that builds those results that you’re looking for. Yeah, all

April Martini 24:49
of that. And I also think that there is a prioritization exercise that needs to happen in this phase as well. Because I think that when you go through the Exercise of what needs to be true. And then you start down the success path. I think, even if you’ve figured out what you’re all working toward, I think KPIs is another place where people tend to sometimes go out, because they don’t know, to your point what the KPIs can and should be. And so then there’s not like a specific set, even if you do need to test and learn through some of it, I think sometimes this is where it goes back out, and then never comes back in. So the KPIs are heard differently, interpreted differently, put to work differently by different groups, or if they’re separate companies within, it can be another place of fragmentation. So I think it is really important to make sure that you’re doing kind of the same synthesis, when you come up with the list of what the KPIs could look like. What are they the right ones that match up to what you’re trying to achieve? But also, does everyone understand why those are the ones or you know, that’s the one or whatever, and then what their role is in getting there and or what you’re going to test and learn in order to figure out this specific numbers. Otherwise, I feel like KPIs are sometimes put on paper in these situations. But then they’re never actually used beyond that, which then is where you get into that frustrating cycle. We did all this planning and whatever. And then what did we actually achieve? And everybody’s answers a little bit different. So as you were talking, I was just thinking through again, some other experiences that I had been a part of where KPIs are brought up almost as like, we feel like we need to have some instead of looking at it from the true, what does success look like? And then what do we define as our KPIs? Because just moving the needle on, fill in the blank doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere against your strategic plan. And I feel like I’m a little bit of the naysayer today. Maybe I have a lot of PTSD associated with strategic planning. But I don’t know for whatever reason, with this one, I just took the lens of being the one not in the room and watching the outcomes and being like, I have a junior person, how the heck did we get there? So anyway, I don’t know why that was my lens for today. But it was well, I

Anne Candido 27:15
think it’s a really good point, because and we’re gonna get to that one. And now that you’ve mentioned it twice in the final, I’m

April Martini 27:20
sorry that I just pick you up. I already got a warning. And I didn’t hate it.

Anne Candido 27:25
Yeah. Like called out like you’d never even see the script before. But but

April Martini 27:30
you know what we say we’re not supposed to recite the script, I am taking liberties where I feel compelled. No,

Anne Candido 27:36
I feel like that’s totally legit. But I mean, it is a very valid point. And I think, you know, for all of those junior people are like, How can I impact the strategy. Hopefully, when we get to the next point, all of the leaders are going to hear it, and they’re going to enroll you in that. But if they can’t, this is a really good way of being able to be forwarding in the strategy discussion without feeling like you’re always a naysayer, or you’re always putting up the roadblocks because I can speak from personal experience, that that is not the position that you want to be seen as whenever it when the organization feels like they have energy moving someplace, and you’re the constant barrier to that energy, that’s not a great place to be. And so a great way you can have that conversation is like, great, you want to get 10,000 engagements on social, on a day or in a month, or whatever that timeframe looks like? Well, right now we’re only getting 1000. So if we want to get 10,000, what must be true? Is these things versus being like we’re never gonna get 10,000 We only get 1000. I’m only a person of what do you expect me to do? Am I supposed to work 80 hours a week and you know, all those sorts of things that start to kind of bubble up within ourselves, when we’re, when we see these things kind of come to fruition on paper, and we don’t know what to go do about them. So you can use it both ways. And you can see how it kind of slides back and forth where it’s like, hey, if I want to get my 10 clients, and this is what the reality looks like, what must be true in order to get to that reality, I might be able to do it, I might not be able to do it. Well, if I can only do this, what does then the outcome look like? And is that enough? Or is not not enough? So then maybe I need to make adjustments in staffing, I might need to make adjustments in skill set Am I need to look at a different way to do this, I might need to optimize my process, it starts to then get the brain thinking more about how to deliver the strategy versus sending arbitrary numbers in an you know, with a hope and a prayer that you’re going to actually deliver it.

April Martini 29:30
Yeah. And I think that goes back to the prioritization piece that I was mentioning before. It’s like pulling the different levers to figure out how to make it work for you. Right, as opposed to the hope and a prayer thing, which I think I’ve been in plenty of those where I was the one being like but I know but how I get that but how, you know, I do think it’s like really thinking through the steps to make sure that if that’s what success looks like, this is how we’re going to maybe have To get creative or a little bit uncomfortable or do things you don’t normally do, challenge the status quo, whatever it is to make sure that all the pieces are working together. Yeah, I

Anne Candido 30:08
think that’s a really good point. All right. The fourth critical finally, we’re here to guide successful strategy planning. April, you have any idea which one this is?

April Martini 30:18
No, I have no idea.

Anne Candido 30:22
Is your organization inspired and motivated? I did

April Martini 30:26
read this. But I do feel like I was providing value based on the points as we went all along

Anne Candido 30:30
the way. I mean, it’s the thread that’s pulling this whole thing together. So now I could just put a little bow on it. But there we go. Yeah. Because I mean, and April is very much right on. And I’m glad you actually brought up that other side of this, because it is a very, very important point, even though it is the fourth point here is probably one of the most important points is that you can’t develop a strategy in a vacuum, you have to socialize it, because people in your organization need to feel heard. So if you don’t socialize it with the broader organization, you’re going to show up as things that you said APR right on you sound tone deaf, you sound like you’re not in touch with your organization, the way the organization feels, and what their needs are. All these things are not good, because it does not compel anybody to get in the boat and row with you. If they’re like, I just feel like I’m irrelevant here. I’m just feel like I’m, I’m here, just going through the motions. I’m doing what everybody’s telling me to do. And nobody cares. And nobody is hearing me. And so what happens in that case is your organization opts out. And so you don’t want additional chanted organization, you are not going to be able to move or progress towards your vision if your organization is feeling like this. So April gave a lot of really good examples I’ll just give one that I’ve heard recently, too, is that a lot of times when we’re thinking about strategy, we’re thinking about how big we’re going to get Yes, like, we’re going to expand here, we’re going to add this thing on and we have a new product, we’re gonna have a new service, we’re going to whatever that looks like. And it feels really inspiring to the leadership because they can translate that into dollars. But your organization is like how the hell we’re going to do this. I came and get this out the door, when I don’t even have enough hours to finish what you’re asking me to do here, when we only have one person and you want now to add in all this other stuff, who’s going to do all this stuff? Remember what I said the key barriers are what people generally are get the most consternation are in those areas. So the objective here is to socialize this strategy. So you can start eliciting that feedback, because feedback is good about how people are feeling. Now, there are some caveats to this. Okay. So the one caveat is, is that you are soliciting feedback, you’re not asking for a approval. Okay? So this is where you have to set it up at the very beginning is that, hey, we’re gonna socialize this use whatever word you want, we use, socialize, but you’re gonna want to share this with them. And you’re going to want to get what how people are feeling. And I’m going to give you a couple questions, specific questions to ask. But you’re setting up the expectation ahead of time, like, and then we’re going to synthesize this and we’re going to go decide this group is going to decide what to do. And we’ll report back out to you what we’re going to go do and why. Right, so the objective here is that everybody feels heard. That doesn’t necessarily mean the strategy needs to reflect everybody’s feedback. And this is what happens in a lot of times, is people are so focused on making sure everybody’s feedback is being heard, that they don’t make the conscious decision of like, okay, well, I get what this person is saying, we’re not gonna be able to accommodate for that right now. All right. And so then what happens is, nothing basically gets aligned to and you start to churn, because you can’t get to a level of what you feel like is agreement. So here, what you need to do is you need to listen, if there’s huge outages, you need to address the short term outages, but you also need to connect them to the long term progress. So for example, scaling to a another area might bring on more staffing, then you can share that staffing between your current area in this new area that helps to alleviate stress. If you can connect the dots for people and you can harmonize the two together, people can then see your vision. But if you’re going to hold the vision, and people don’t understand what you’re actually trying to achieve, they’re only going to stay through their own filter, the place that they’re engaging in day to day. So I said that there’s some questions that you should ask when you’re socializing. And so these are the three questions and there might be you can play with the wording on these, but there’s really only three questions. One is, is there anything missing in the strategy? Is there something you’re not seeing here? Is there anything you fundamentally disagree with? That’s going to be your indication about if you’re going to have any major dissenters? Do you feel compelled again, the boat and row this helps you understand that if people feel inspired and motivated, right, that’s what that question is all about. Like the lead question is does your organization feel aspire and motivated, this is gonna give you that pulse. Now, like I said, though, you need to listen to everybody, but you don’t need to act on all of it. But you do owe a report back to organization. Again, like I said about what you heard from the feedback, what you’re taking, and what you’re forwarding. And this is also a really good indication of, do I have the right people in the boat to go row or not. So sometimes this helps you to address some of the other gaps that we talked about that could come up. And I’m not saying because you have a naysayer, you should go fire them. But I am saying that it does give you a view and a purview across your organization about whether or not you have the right people in the right roles in order to go do what you need to go do.

April Martini 35:43
Well, I have nothing else to say that already said on my plate. No, I’m just kidding. That would be a first I always have something to say,

Anne Candido 35:49
I know you always figure out something else. Oh, yeah, I missed this. I forgot to say this. No,

April Martini 35:54
but seriously. So I think just to first address the point you just made about you, you have to listen to it all. You don’t address it, but you do have to report back. I think part of that is being really transparent with people that you are asking these questions, and you are reassuring them that you are internalizing all of it. But just very overtly stating, we couldn’t possibly take everyone’s recommendation, right, like we’re doing the best we can. And you you set objective criteria against doing that, right. Like, we’re not looking for decision by committee, or, you know, we’re gonna get feedback that’s conflicting. But also there’s places where someone offers a really good insight. And it happens once and it does in influence. So I was always a fan of saying, this isn’t a science, it’s an art, you have to trust the same way that we’re respecting you by soliciting and asking for it. You have to trust on the other side that those of us that are on the decision making team see I’m switching myself back to that side of things. Split person are doing things with the right intention. And it’s not that we’re ignoring you or you know, this isn’t an emotional thing. We’re trying to do what is right for the business. I think all what you said is spot on. But sometimes I think what else can be amiss is not educating the organization on the front end before any of this even happens. Right. Right. So I think it’s back to my comment about the leadership, which is, quote unquote, disappear. Right? It was because we that was a perception, we didn’t have any sort of setup, we knew what they were doing in theory, but we didn’t really know. And so I think you can ask questions, even before you start the process that might give you some insight into the temperature of the organization, a lot of the things you’re talking about here, or uncover someone that’s in the trenches that can give you Oh, my gosh, I would have never said it that way or thought about it that way, or I didn’t even realize that. But that is a critical problem if we’re going to go and do X, right? So starting out with some of that. And then it’s not a matter of okay, well, then we’re beholden to them at every single part of the process that we have to come back, you just have to find the right amount of touchpoints. And the right way of saying things so that people feel like there’s transparency and authenticity in what’s being communicated. And generally speaking, when that would happen, you’d be able to get people on board to be more inspired and motivated, just simply because they felt like they were respected and part of the process all the way through and it wasn’t like this, we’re gonna go back behind the curtain. And us important people are gonna go and do x, it was like, No, we’ve all been involved in this, because we’re all part of the organization, no matter how Junior how long, we’ve been here, et cetera. And everybody really does have a voice. And a lot of times that would squash a lot of that people were a lot more willing to come along, when they felt like they were part of it from the beginning. Yeah, I

Anne Candido 38:44
think that’s right now and I think the point you made too, about the perspective is right on to which is, a lot of times these people who are boots on the ground are more in touch, yes. And they can speak from actually a whole higher level of strategic understanding than you can in a lot of ways because especially even if you’re having top to tops, that doesn’t actually get down to what is actually going on directly with your consumer with your customer, your client if you’re not in it on a day to day basis. So it’s absolutely critical that you get those voices which is why we say a lot of times these strategies are built from the bottom up Yes. And then you can then take that insight and then you can have a much more informed strategy because I agree with you that when people feel heard they feel more inclined to get in the boat and row and feel more inspired by the vision now we also here then leadership say this thing’s gonna take forever Yeah, you know, and it does take a little bit more time it’s not a I’m we’re gonna go for a two day off site and we’re going to do the business strategy. This is probably a process that could should take like a couple of months, in order to make sure it is as fun as it needs to be. Then you just need to plan for that. Yes, but also realize too because everybody gets really nervous when they start sharing everything out and they were soliciting feedback that really only about 10% of your organization is going to be provide feedback. And so the most important thing is for people to feel like they had the opportunity to that not necessarily that they are going to engage. So just remember that nuance because it’s really important. Moving on to our next section, which is a marketing smarts moment, and it’s a company or business that we feel or person, frankly, that is exercising and marketing smart or not. And so the one I’m going to talk about is a local area that’s starting to come up here in Norway, and that’s called factory 52. It’s a new build, and it’s coming along pretty quickly. And the reason what I want to talk about this, and this is a common theme for me is the whole idea of community building, and how important that is in order to drive just the humanity of of our world, but also for people to feel like they belong to something. And I feel like this has tremendous amount of extension to everything that we’re trying to do from a business and a brand standpoint. And I mean the proverbial we’re not just me and April, we, but if you think about the way that these things are constructed, so factory 52, like I said, system, Norwood it’s actually the site of the former card manufacturing, us playing card. Yeah. Which is a really awesome claim to fame for Cincinnati. So they’ve converted that whole space. And now it’s, like I said, it’s growing fast. But it started as a bar area called high wire, but now it has fretboard brewery and it has started to build the food court. And it has Jenny’s ice cream. It has a pickleball court now. And then they’re building all these condos around it. So you can kind of see as it’s becoming its own community to some respect, where people can live work and play. When we were there this past Friday, it was a one field where it was more adult oriented, although there was tons of kids there enjoying the night. The next day, I brought my daughter there because we were going to have lunch and we were actually going to go see Sam play soccer and it was right by there. So we’re like, Hey, we’re gonna go have lunch. And actually Krynn enjoyed it just as much from her perspective as a 16 year old, as we did as adults the night before, for different reasons. But she’s like, the food is great, because it’s a little bit more of an eclectic eatery. And then they had Jenny’s ice cream, which is a little bit more of a eclectic ice cream place. But then the space itself and I said, Yeah, you should bring some friends down. And they Fridays, they have a band playing on the grass, and you can have something to eat. And you can go do that. I mean, it’s like a little bit of something for everybody, but in a way that’s intentionally cultivated. And I know we’ve talked about this before. But it’s interesting to see that this theme is continuing to be resurrected, ongoing, and it feels like it’s working, because they are popping up everywhere. So that’s my marketing smarts moment. And the way that I would translate it to businesses is again thinking about the community oriented aspect of your business. So that’s also it’s not just the internal culture part of your community, which is extremely important. But then how does that transcend beyond your walls, into your clients, into your customers into your consumers? And how does that feel cohesively that you’re developing your own sense of this place where people can come in order to get not only the things that you were delivering, but the experience that they’re looking for as well, that keeps people coming back again, and again. So that was really interesting in the fact that it can’t transcend ages, I thought was also very interesting.

April Martini 43:28
Yeah, I would totally agree with you, especially as a parent to young kids. So I would say that locally here, there have been some swings and misses when it comes to building areas that really function across ages like this. And so we have other parts of the city, where you have the mixed use where it’s residents and then experiences for the people that are living there. But I think what happens is they become a little bit either vanilla or cater to only one specific psychographic or demographic. So I feel like with factory 52, and I just said this to someone recently, I feel like they’ve taken a lot of learnings from other areas. And I’m sure it’s not just Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky, I’m sure this is you know, beyond just us, and very intentionally made the move that there is truly something for everybody. But also you can coexist, whether you want to do adults only, or your families with young children, or your young professional that’s living there, you can kind of do it your own way. And you can even coexist in the same spaces, which is the other piece I find really interesting. So you know, there’s a bar outside by the green where the little kids tend to congregate and you know, play together us as parents can be on the periphery watching them if you’re an adult that doesn’t want anything to do with You can be on high wires roof and not paying any attention to that. But you’re at the same place. And so I do think they did a really good job of all of that. And then the other piece, I think, is that they use the structures. And I know this wasn’t your point, but used and maintained. What was there in the maybe spirit of the US playing card? Yeah, yeah, they did factory. And if you don’t know, that’s what it is, which I’ve been when people haven’t they’re like, why is there all this reference? Like, why are there playing cards over there? I’m like, Well, it’s the playing card factory, like, you know, factory 52 playing cards, you know, you bring people down the path. But I think that there are installations, as well as use of the buildings that were there. So new and old, making a really nice experience as well, that I think, sort of echoes the idea that everybody’s welcome there. Yeah,

Anne Candido 45:51
I think that’s right on. The only thing I would say is that there’s not enough bathrooms built into the facility. That’s totally true. None of them have enough. Yeah, that’s the one thing all right, so just to recap, four critical questions that guy successful strategy planning one, what do you want to be when you grow up? It’s imperative that everyone is working towards the same vision. If not, the efforts will feel siloed and diluted. To what needs to be true in order to achieve it serves as a temperature check of how people are feeling helps them to reorient and reset priorities. Number three, what does success look like? You can’t develop KPIs unless you know what success looks like. And finally, is your organization inspired and motivated? This is an underlining thread through all of this, which is you can’t develop a successful strategy in a vacuum that will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts!

April Martini 46:34
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