Is your strategic direction working for your business?
While this question may be a relatively easy one to answer, it’s what comes after that is tougher to respond to — what do you do when you’re not getting the results you want from your business strategy?
Business strategy is perhaps the most important part of your business. It’s the roadmap you have created for your company with the intent to grow and gain profit sustainably.
However, if you feel your business is moving slowly or going off course, then it is likely time for a strategy evaluation to get back on track.
The evaluation of a business strategy can take several forms, but one of the most effective techniques is to use visual tools. This is because visual strategy tools activate the brain in a different way than just discussions or text-based plans.
At the same time, these tools lend themselves to group brainstorming sessions, which is useful when evaluating your business’ strategic direction with other key stakeholders.
This article will give you 3 visual business strategy tools that your board or management team can use to give you the strategic direction boost you need.
Tool 1: SWOT
You may have used SWOT before, but a common business mistake is to use it once and then never again.
SWOT is an incredibly useful tool to get all your business issues on the table so you can evaluate the business strategy as a team, and then develop an actionable strategic plan.
SWOT allows you to visually break up your strategy analysis into four areas: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This creates a visualized delineation of each of the aspects of your strategy; and therefore, immediately helps unjumble what you, as a business, need to consider.
It can be laid out in table form as seen below.
This exercise should be done as a brainstorming session starting with your business strengths and weaknesses. Generate ideas and write them down onto the table.
It’s important to write every idea down to create an atmosphere where people can offer input willingly. Once all the ideas are in, you can go through them and whittle them down to the ones you all agree are the best.
Do the same process for all of the squares on the table, and by the end, you will have a great image of what your company does well and what it doesn’t, which is vital knowledge in terms of developing your new strategy.
This exercise also helps you be more aware of opportunities and threats that might be coming your way which, again, should directly inform the strategic direction that you’re working to develop.
Tool 2: Brand Boxes
This tool would help you with your strategy development as it looks at your business brand and how successful it is when compared to the competition.
When evaluating your business strategy, it’s important to pay attention to your branding in relation to your position in the marketplace.
If you are dissatisfied with your current situation, one of the causes may be issues with how you present your brand to your customers and, consequently, how your business is perceived.
The Brand Boxes tool facilitates the evaluation of your brand; and from this, you could develop a strategy to improve your branding and messaging to your target audience.
Here’s a better look at the Brand Boxes.
Like SWOT, the Brand Boxes tool breaks up your evaluation into four sections. This helps separate your issues and strengths, and allows you to go into detail with your evaluation.
By means of brainstorming, you need to write down everything that is unique about your business in the first box. Think about your value proposition and the gap in the market your business fills.
Then, in the box below it, write down what your company does, has, or offers that is common to other businesses. This is important to know because it will inform your marketing strategy.
Certainly, you don’t want to spend lots of time advertising an aspect of your business that all your competitors have as well, right?
Then, in the two boxes on the right column, write down what is stronger in your business and what is weaker. Unlike SWOT, however, keep this to your branding. You may, for instance, have a very strong logo for your business but your headline or strapline may not be very effective.
The Brand Boxes are a brilliantly useful tool to evaluate your brand and marketing strategy that could enable you to develop a new strategic direction in these areas. However, the key here is being honest, as well, about where your business strategy and branding excel at and where you need to improve on.
Tool 3: Ansoff’s Matrix
This tool is a useful resource to develop four different branches of strategy quickly. It combines looking at your products and the markets helping you realize which strategy will help you achieve your goals.
If your business is looking at developing a new product or entering a new market, then this tool would be perfect for you.
This is what the Ansoff’s Matrix looks like.
As you can see, each box facilitates your thinking about a specific business strategy you might want to employ.
The top left box asks you to examine how your existing products are doing in existing markets. This is a chance for you to evaluate and decide whether you need to re-strategize for greater market penetration with your existing products.
The top right box prompts you to think about what strategy is best to bring a new product into an existing market. What you have written in the previous box could inform the ideas you jot down in this section.
The bottom left box asks you to strategize how you would bring an existing product of your business to a new market. Perhaps your business is trying to move into international trading or wanting to move an existing product to a different market by finding a new marketing angle.
Finally, the bottom right box allows you to create a diversification strategy. This essentially is creating new products for new markets.
There is an element of risk here as you can’t be certain of your success. However, this venture would not affect your other products in different markets that are already successful.
To sum up
When it comes to evaluating and developing your business strategy, visual strategy tools can be extremely helpful.
SWOT, Brand Boxes, and Ansoff’s Matrix not only help you evaluate previous business strategies but also allow you to develop new ones to move your strategic direction forward.
- 3 Visual Tools to Rejuvenate Your Business’s Strategic Direction - August 18, 2022