A while back, a CEO with whom I was working, told me that he didn’t believe in strategy (for marketing or for the company in general). He said that he believed in letting things evolve organically, as they are meant to be.strategy

At the time, I thought, hmmmm, ok—I hadn’t ever considered that approach and perhaps this could be an interesting experiment. Well, what my experience with that client taught me (and I really knew at the beginning but had thrown caution to the wind) is that yes, strategy matters. In the sense that when there is NO corporate strategy, direction or PLAN— of where the company is heading, of mapping the product/service roadmap to the market demands or paying close attention to the competitive landscape. When all of these elements are ignored– what happens is this—NOTHING.

Time is the killer of all deals and that applies not only to one-off sales opps, but also to a company’s evolution. The absence of strategic vision and execution results in an executive team that is spinning its wheels and groups within the company that are disjointed and ineffective. This is especially critical for early stage companies competing in a noisy space. When time is of the essence and runways are short—there is nothing worse than deliverables missed, deadlines passed and objectives unmet.

Corporate strategy doesn’t have to be a huge, all-encompassing, static “thing”. It can be as simple as stating, “ we want to deliver the best {insert widget here} that we can with the resources in place, and we want it completed by March 1st.” And then sticking to it.

There is also the element of reality that needs to be considered. I can’t tell you how many times I have consulted with clients who make statements along the lines of: “we need to out-market our competition—we need to be better than those guys”. So my follow up question is, “are you better than those guys?”. If the answer is NO, then you’d better have some deep pockets for marketing to blow the doors off the “other guys”. So when the answer is, “well we don’t really have a lot of money to spend and we’re not sure what our message is”—that’s where the wheels come off the bus.

Strategy planning and mapping deliverables to corporate objectives isn’t always fun..in fact, it’s usually kind of painful and time-consuming. But, it is truly core to the success of any business.

Whether you are a micro-business just starting out or a legacy enterprise company—you can’t get to your destination without first determining how you are getting there. For some reason, it’s the critical component that many companies want to skip. Instead, the focus turns to tactical one-offs distributed across mediums, that have the collective result of “not much”.

So when someone asks you what the corporate strategy is and the blank stares around the table echo the fact that there isn’t one—STOP.

Take the time– communicate, evaluate, plan and execute.