1:10PM PST | October 10, 2015 | Updated November 7, 2015
Developing a business strategy is simply identifying and planning out the coming years goals and operational procedures. I usually get some idea of what the coming business year will look like some time in July for an Internet business and January for a traditional business. I look at the budget, check sales, the cost of doing business (total operating expenses), competitive landscape, political environment and the economy. There are other factors I take into consideration depending on the projections I need to make however, for simplicity's sake I'd like to stay close to the basics. Based on established net profit margins and actual net profit of the current year I assess what my business is capable of at its current growth rate. For an Internet business I determine where I want to be in the fourth quarter of the next year. Then review new tools and technologies on the horizon for the coming year. I do that about mid-way into the current business year.
This gives me time to learn new technologies coming into my trade the coming year.
Developing an effective "online" business strategy is no easier for the internet business than for a traditional business. Now that internet purveyors are learning how to generate interest and sales, there is more incentive for starting an internet business. The light's been turned on, we can see the potential now. But starting an internet business is a different creative process than developing an "ongoing" business. You have some sense of where you are, where as starting a new business you're planning without a history to draw upon. It's easier to identify areas that need attention in an established business than it is with a startup business. Established businesses have identified revenue generating processes, created their marketing budgets, and sat about developing a strategy for achieving their goals for 2016 based on operating results of 2015. New businesses don't have a reference point, their strategies are experimental.
I prefer to show you how to create strategies and things other internet business operators will most likely be doing in 2016. It's better to teach you how to develop a business strategy than to give you a business strategy. The first thing you want to do is decide on where you want your business to be by the end of the last operating quarter of the year. Developing strategies is about moving your business forward from point A to point B. A strategy can be focussed on the business as a whole or focussed solely on one aspect of the the business. For example, you could decide the main focus of next year will be on establishing a mailing list and start shifting business activities towards that goal. Then, a plan to spend the first quarter of the following year meeting a mailing list sales goal of X number of dollars or pounds depending you where you are.
You created a business plan to open your business? Creating a business strategy is simply updating those plans for another year based on changes in the environment of your type of business.
Useful business environmental information can come from anywhere and everywhere. Or, from someone you'd least expect. Something sparks an idea that sets off your creative thinking and away you go. You'll automatically start looking for data that might help you engage the challenges of the coming year.
So you have your business plan, now make sure you hit your benchmarks or goals. You have to strategize for that.
Each business is different and unique unto itself. I will however say this before going forward, "automation is coming". I'm looking at automating more here at Jimisound.com. Actually I've already started. Notice the Apple Music banner on the homepage, that's automated. There is also some automation on the Gigs page and of course our social media management is automated. Automation insures accuracy or saves time by eliminating a need for hands on. What makes the Internet the Internet is its capacity for automation. However there are things that cannot or should not be automated. I would not automate marketing, that would be suicidal in any strategy. If your business served computers I'd say automate the marketing too, but it doesn't, it serves humans. You can automate repetition. Business is a part of our socialization process and has to adapt to social and cultural changes. So be carefully when automating, only automate what makes sense to automate.
As a business consultant I often encountered two businesses on the same block providing the same products and services. To survive they'd use distinctly different processes for how they meet their sales and customer satisfaction goals. In those cases everything is predicated entirely on the competition. So, you have to do that yourself, and to accomplish that you need to know how to develop a strategy. Not just any strategy, but one that is tailored to your specific businesses needs, goals and operating procedures. An effective strategy in that environment of course has to be based in individualized personal services and display technique.
Keeping your business growing is the reason for strategizing. A continual monitoring of, and adjustment to your business process and design will help you meet challenges before they can become challenges. Learning what works is what keeps your business growing and profitable. To do that make plans for going from point A to point B and from B to C, etc. Look at your planning with what other successful businesses like yours have done or do. Your approach should be based on the challenges of 2015, and a main goal that would support the accomplishment of secondary goals, which might be something like increasing sales overall by 20% in 2016.
A main goal will generally break up into several smaller goals. So A, B, and C equals three, and three equals 'one', one is the expected end result of yours and your team's hard work for that goal year.
Reaching the goal of a 20% increase in sales would probably support your efforts to meet a secondary goal of 5% increase in net profits for the year. There are 12 months in the year so you have four months you can apply to each of the three parts of the goal, which from here on out we'll call the primary or ultimate goal.
Primary goal strategies are what breathe life into your business.
But there is no one strategy fits all kind of thing. You can and will at times see two businesses using similar tools or systems, but how and why they're using them can differ tremendously. For example "programmatic" has been around for several years, but word is that this procedure will dominate online business/marketing in 2016.
Will it be for you and your business, maybe, maybe not? Some are saying it will eventually take over current advertising models created by Google in 2002 by Adwords, a static search advertising system driven by keyword algorithm display media. For those of you who don’t know what programmatic is; it is an automated, bid, purchase, sell "real time" marketing/advertising system created in 1996 by two guys Kevin O'Connor & Dwight Merriman.
They sold it in 2005 to a couple of investment companies. Google bought it in 2008 for just over three billion dollars; it is called "Double Click". The Google marketing tools used by mainstream marketers and businesses is generic compared to Programmatic Marketing and advertising media. It is commonly used by major brands such as Microsoft, Apple, Nike, IBM and so on, but is seeping into mainstream marketing and is expected by experts to become the primary marketing system used by everyone as early as 2017.
I guess we'll have to wait and see about that. There is only one aspect of programmatic I would use in 2016: The Supply-side platform A supply-side platform (SSP) interfaces on the publisher's side to advertising networks and exchanges, which in turn interface to demand-side platforms (DSP) on the advertiser side. It is advanced technology and will not be cheap to acquire. This is why I doubt that literally everybody will be using it in 2016.
But as an easy process to establish and a possible sales generating component in a marketing strategy for a blogger let's say; whose current ad attributions are nil, this may be something new, reliable, powerful and effective for getting this part of your strategy accomplished. It may be that their business is ready for this automated move. You’d probably be attracted to programmatic advertising to accomplish that goal. You'd have four months to get to know it, run some test and get it set up and running efficiently.
Now let’s say your new operations strategy needs to build up your customer base and establish reliable regular traffic. So you bone up on how to build a customer base online. You decide an effective email campaign program could do the job. Alright then, so you would set about modifying your existing email campaign program or setting up a program if you don't already have one. You have four months to learn, test and set up an effective email campaign program. So you read my blog and learn that using iContact can greatly improve your chances of completing that part of your 2016 goal.
Your strategy muscle is getting a workout, your 2016 strategy is coming together nicely, and you are happy with the plan.
Only two more things you need to do for completing your strategy, and goal. By the way, your strategy and operating budget can be done both at the same time. When I was creating budgets at North Island I had six million dollars in sales. I could basically meet any budget I made, within reason of course. I don't have that luxury here, and you probably don't either. So you want to develop a budget you can meet based on your "project operating results". You're projecting a 20% sales increase. So you'd develop a budget based on total project sales for 2016. You would then monitor your processes and operating results and if need be, you'd adjust your budget mid year.
Okay, back to your strategy. You want to increase search traffic. You want to improve upon your content and get it more in line with your keywords while at the same time keeping the customer on the site longer to increase conversion opportunities.
You believe that lowering your bounce rate will help to generate more sales and that with the right content you can do that. Now you're at part three of your strategy to increase sales and net profit. You want to draw new customers to your site and get them to stay longer, increasing your chances of generating more traffic and creating a more productive sales environment on your website.
To support this strategy you decide to hire a good freelance blogger and put a content optimization app in place. You choose Drupal for this. You have four months to find a content writer, agree on content, learn Drupal, do some testing and establish the program. Now you have developed your strategy for your particular kind of business, website, or blog for 2016.
You should prioritize these three components based on time. For instance, I'd put blogging and content optimization at the first part of the year, I do that first thing to give myself a longer period of time to produce that 20% sales increase.
Alright so now you have your strategy, your plan of implementation and only one other thing left to do to make your strategy work; you need to monitor sales and expenses every day throughout 2016. You've decided you'll use Google analytics for that and you set a periodic schedule to follow in checking it. Well good for you, you're done! That’s all there is to it. Plan, develop your plan, implement it, and monitor results. You now have your business strategy and operating plan in effect for 2016. Stay on it, stay determined and you'll achieve it.
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