Staying Ahead of the Competition in 2012

Originally published on One Uproar

After reading Dave Lavinsky’s article in Inc., “Crucial Keys to Business Success in 2012” I decided to write this post. I’ve spent most of this year proving why strategy is so important and having multiple conversations about the importance of strategy and marketing. Business owners often do not see the value in utilizing all areas of marketing and strategy is, well, something they don’t seem to have time for, or think about as a non-essential part of their business.

In order for businesses to succeed in today’s environment,  establishing strategy and marketing holistically is crucial. I wrote a series on how to think about strategy and how to formulate your plan. These are the key areas you should consider:

1. Analyze the competition. This is one of the most obvious steps a business owner should take. I don’t mean just conduct an analysis for your plan and then leave it. Buy research, find organizations that can help you with industry findings and conduct a proper analysis. Look at verticals, product development, and find areas that give your business the advantage. I recommend a condensed monthly competitive review. This will help you prepare for the next step.

2. SWOT Analysis. A SWOT review (business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) will provide you with everything you need to formulate your strategy. For those who haven’t conducted this it’s really very easy and something you should be doing on a quarterly basis. As a business owner you should know what your strengths are and know what threats can be turned into opportunities.

3. Marketing and Distribution. In today’s environment you are going to need to be creative and look at marketing in its entirety.  You cannot just conduct public relations or simply build a website. You need to be doing everything in tandem. Distribution and marketing are vital to your success.

4. Goal Setting. My series on strategy also included a blog about goal setting. It’s very important to set goals and revisit them throughout the year since you won’t know what worked and what did not. Don’t worry if you have to change your goals – this is very common and means you have your eyes on the finish line.

5. Be nimble. My previous post focuses on how to move fast in today’s ever-changing environment. Give yourself permission to innovate, to move fast but be thoughtful. Pull back when you have to and move fast when it’s appropriate.

These are just a few suggestions on how you and your business can move ahead of the competition and be successful in 2012. Take the time to formulate your strategy, figure out your secret sauce and marketing strategy. Take the reins and become successful. The competition won’t know what happened.