It is better to have a simple plan that is brilliantly executed than an extraordinary plan that is poorly executed.
It is all very well to spend time and resources in developing a marketing strategy and having a fabulous plan, however, without commitment from the top down, without proper implementation, and without control and regular monitoring, there will be no measurable results and the whole exercise will be null and void!
The marketing strategy or plan refers to the overall game plan of a company's achievable objectives. It includes planning and assessing how best an organisation can manage its resources and its target markets, always bearing in mind the challenges faced by competition and taking into consideration the ever-changing environment.
Implementation refers to the 'how' factor. How are you going to reach your target market, how are you going to obtain and maintain that competitive advantage, how are you going to communicate effectively and how are you going to strengthen long term relationships with customers.
Traditionally, strategies were created by senior management and then implemented by lower levels of the organisation. The disadvantage of this method was that employees did not buy into the corporate goals of a company and so they did not commit to striving towards any of the goals inherent to the plan. In order to achieve success, members of staff from every level of the company's structure or hierarchy need to be involved with the planning and the implementation.
Strategy implementation needs to be treated as an ongoing trial and error type experiment and therefore has to be able to adapt to environmental changes. It needs to be internal, operations driven, motivating, rewarding and most importantly it needs commitment from the top down.
Top management should be getting involved at the strategy formulation stage and therefore be more likely to be committed to the successful implementation of it. As the well known saying of the Chinese philosopher, Sun Tzu, stated in 514 BC: 'Weak leadership can wreck the soundest strategy, forceful execution of even a poor plan can often bring victory' Take that!
I would like to end off with an interesting example of a case study I have recently studied through my IMM diploma, referenced to: Applied Strategic Marketing, Du Plessis; Jooste; Strydom - Heinemann Publishers 2001:
A company that has used strategic marketing and implemented this so successfully to grow into one of the biggest in its field is Bell Equipment. Having started out in the sugar industry in KwaZulu-Natal in the mid-'50s, the company now operates in as many countries as: Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore to South America, North America and various parts of Africa. The success of the company can be attributed to strong leadership and good internal and external communications when implementing strategies. Once a smaller player in the industry, Bell out-manoeuvred bigger companies by, firstly, giving a lot more decision-making power to people within the field. Employees did not need to constantly refer back to head office for approval on pricing, products, building customer relationships etc. This, in turn, built confidence, commitment and loyalty. Secondly, as part of their strategy to respond more quickly when a machine went down, they trained their engineers to develop flying skills so they could move directly to site and in a shorter space of time - this became a trademark of Bell's success.
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