You Need A Plan To Win. Will Any Plan Due?
By Tom Dougherty
It’s amazing how much of today’s business news is based on serendipity. If the “good news” is based on someone else’s “bad news” it ought to be a clarion call that something is very wrong with corporate strategic planning.
Just such an event happened when the news of the day was the increased sales of GM and Ford, with experts in the field attributing the increases as a result of all the turbulence surrounding Toyota and its recall problems.
I can’t help but think back to a recording I heard years ago of a 30s radio show starring the humorist Will Rogers. He was poking fun at the Roosevelt administration as it tried everything it could to pull the nation out of the Great Depression.
A Plan To End All Brand Planning
Will was making fun of the government’s propensity to plan. Apparently, the government had just recommended an inheritance tax as a means to raise government revenue. Will could not help himself and he said.
“No one has more plans than government. Boy, they have plans to make plans. Now the government has come up with a plan to raise more money. And I have no problem with that. But they have this new plan to put in place a new inheritance tax. Now that is just fine and dandy but they have even said how much money this new tax will raise in revenue every year. Now THAT is planning, by God.
You know, they said that this new tax will bring in x amount of money next year and such and such. So, the government plan is that they must know who is going to die. Boy that is planning!
Now let’s say that next year, for example, the government has planned that J.P. Morgan is scheduled to die and he just plumb refuses? You know old men can be contrary? Especially rich old men.”
We look at this story by Will and we are all struck with the silliness of it all. But it never ceases to amaze me how many corporations, even global companies, have plans that amount to the same lunacy. It is as if the plan is for the competitors to stumble. That is no plan to steal market share. It is simply a plan to do nothing and hope for the best.
Saving Our Way To Profitability
Aside from cutting costs, closing factories, declaring bankruptcy and defaulting on debt, what plan have US automakers branding strategists put into place to regain share and sell more cars (see our blog on automakers and the Toyota Brand recall)?
There is no doubt that there were inherent profitability issues in union contracts and agreements the automakers made over the years. But what changes have they fundamentally made to adapt their brands to the wants and future needs of the markets they hope to exploit?
It is the same story the tobacco companies created when their growth plans are the untapped market of smokers in China. It is in fact, no plan at all.
Stealing market share and creating a brand to compete in the global economy is a lot more than a new marketing slogan and advertising campaign. The problem for most companies is they confuse a brand strategy with a communications plan.
How Does A Global Brand Win?
When developing a brand strategy to steal share, everything is on the table: Operations, structure, sourcing, packaging, product, sales model, consumer insights, marketing, distribution — everything. If it is to succeed, a company must be willing to slay every sacred cow (see our article on slaying sacred cows) in the quest to better align itself with the needs of the target audience.
Sometimes, we might confuse the science of growing market share when we talk about changing customer (or more precisely, prospect) behavior. At first glance, it sounds like we embark on a quest to find the holy grail of getting potential customers to change their behavior and choose your brand. It might sound as if all of the change comes from “out there” when, in fact, the most substantial change has to happen tight at home – in your own corporate backyard.
You Need To Change. Simple As That
When Stealing Share uncovers preceptive (belief systems) (see an explanation of the preceptive model here) and emotional intensity in the target audience, these discoveries always come with a need to internally change. After all, unless it is simply smoke and mirrors, your service and product needs to authentically reflect those precepts and, to make that real, the changes must become real too. (Read about the power of precepts here)
Will Rogers would be proud of this plan because it is real and based on action. After all, Will once said, “Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth.” Amen to that.