3 Key Parts to Strategic Planning
By Linda P. Walton
Each year begins with endless resolutions: we promise ourselves that we will do better, we’ll work harder and our businesses will be more successful. Then five minutes later we are bored or hopeless and drop all hopes for improvement. It does not have to be that way. This year could be all the difference with some good strategic planning.
You might be groaning at the thought of taking time to write out a plan, but having your career goals and ideas listed out in a clear manner keeps you focused. Whether you are a company executive wanting your business to grow or an entry-level professional anxious to make his mark, you can achieve every single one of your goals and desires by remembering these three points.
- Primary Research Pays Off
Companies hardly take the time to do their own research. Sure, secondary research from other organizations can help, but every company has its own unique traits that make applying second-hand research difficult.
Primary research doesn’t need to be expensive; you can do polls, surveys and focus groups for very little money. Knowing your company’s unique problem is essential for having any successful goals made to fix it.
- Come up with a “Big Idea”
If you look at great advertising campaigns, they are always centered around a “Big Idea.” Great public relations campaigns also need a big idea. Take a moment to brainstorm with co-workers or even a family member to think about what you want people to take away from the project.
Once you come up with your Big Idea, hold onto it. Tie all of your goals, objectives, publics, messages and strategies into it. The key part is sticking with the Big Idea; this gives your plan that x-factor that can make all the difference in a great or gruesome plan.
- Make goals that are specific, measurable, time-bound, and achievable
You should always be making new goals for yourself and your company. But take the extra step and make your goals worth keeping in mind. Your goals should be specific, not some vague, “get more awareness” type goal. Make them measurable, time-bound, and realistic! Don’t let the fear of hard work stop you from making milestones, but only set goals that are achievable.
Aim for more than just awareness or hype. It’s not measurable, and there’s really no substance involved. Make goals that result in action. E.g., increase Facebook followers to 1,000 by September, create and execute three public events a year, etc.
While forming these goals, ask yourself questions like, how much time will this take me? Can I do this myself, or do I need help? What is the minimum/maximum I think I will get from my efforts?
By keeping these three points in mind when creating a strategic plan, you ensure that your time is well spent. For the first time in a while, you will actually have the power and planning necessary to meet and exceed even the most long-shot of goals.
Linda P. Walton is the president of The Walton Group, Inc. She has over 35 years of PR experience in Utah and has taught Public Relations at BYU and UVU. For more information, visit www.thewaltongroupinc.com