• Thought leadership and opinion pieces from Aperio FMCG Consulting.
  • 1

Key steps to creating a business strategy

Whether you are leading a big organization or a small to medium-sized business, the challenges facing you when developing a solid business strategy are pretty much the same. 

The days of 100 page business plans are over, if this may offend the MBA graduates I do apologise, however I speak from experience when I say most CEOs, MD’s and business leaders are under immense pressure with their time. In the past we had the luxury of developing a strategy over months, in today’s world we have weeks to do so.

 

By Michael Wood, director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa

In the past we had the luxury of developing a strategy over months, in today’s world we have weeks to do so. In addition, a business strategy may need to be revised often versus the past when a strategy could last up to 10 years. Unless you have a magic eight-ball that the world doesn’t know about, it is increasingly becoming more difficult to predict the future. 

On a daily basis businesses are faced with a multitude of competitors, regulatory shifts, economic changes, shifting customer dynamics and like those in the industrial sector – aggressive strike action or consumer activism which could derail any well thought out business strategy. 

These business strategy tips do not state the obvious requirements in a strategy – financial projections, resourcing, branding and sales, operational requirements – you can find that in any template on the web. What I want to focus on are the not so obvious ingredients for strategic planning success. 

 

Who is developing and contributing to your strategy?

Your business strategy is only as good as the people creating it. It is vitally important that you identify people who are:

•Integral to leading and implementing the strategy 

•The most knowledgeable and influential people in your company 

•The team identified to monitor the strategy within your company

 

Challenge. Challenge. Challenge. 

Now is not the time to get stuck in old thinking and assumptions – it is about stimulating and challenging thinking and having honest, open discussions about difficult issues! 

•Challenge your assumptions about what will or will not work

•Has your customer changed?

•Are you still relevant to your target audience?

•How are you going to keep abreast or even overtake and lead the industry? 

•What is likely to happen in the future and are you ready? 

•Take an honest look at your strength and weaknesses 

•Relook your long term vision – is it still valid?

•What is not working and what is working in your company?

 

Ask questions to stimulate critical thinking

Before deciding on a strategic course of action you should ask:

•What are the top 3 things that must go right for this strategy to work?

•If we pursue this strategy, what are we deciding not to do?

•What specific capabilities will we need to develop in order for this strategy to succeed?

•What would be the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing this strategy?

•Would another strategy work better for us? 

 

Do you have the right information? 

A good strategy is informed by strong customer and market trends research if it is to succeed. 

•Understanding who your customer is and what he/she actually needs is critical 

•Are you going on gut feel or solid, valid information?

•Have you tested any of your assumptions in the field? 

•Understanding your competitors is key to ensuring your USP is actually still valid amongst other things like product or service innovation

•Defining and planning around critical business risks related to market trends, financial uncertainty, perceptions, regulatory changes, competitors and consumer behavior is also key

 

Identify Alternatives

Before developing a detailed plan identify several possible alternative approaches. Once you have considered several and listed the advantages, disadvantages and overall likelihood of success for each alternative, you are in a better position to develop a plan with greater potential.

 

Prioritisation is key

It is impossible to do everything all at once – it can be onerous at best to expect the business to focus on a long laundry list of strategic goals. You need to identify three to six priorities for the coming year that will have the biggest impact on business performance. 

 

Can you summarise your business strategy on one page? 

Sound impossible? Well it is not. If you are unable to summarise your strategy easily and simply, it is far too complicated.  How do you expect others to follow your direction if the business strategy cannot be succinctly defined and communicated? 

Your strategy also has to have meaningful substance that can be translated into action or it may end up lost in translation

 

Execution

Execution is the only strategy customers or consumers will ever see, so execution with excellence is critical. A strategy that reflects the reality of the situation, your organization, competitive situation, market shifts is a strategy that is executable. 

 

Measures and milestones

You need to establish at the planning phase how you are going to measure the success of your strategies. By clearly defining the measures and identifying clear milestones you will be able to track the progress of your strategy effectively. This also enables you to course correct if you are falling behind or going off track. 

 

BLOG @ APERIO FMCG

Why is your trade investment ROI not stacking up?

By Sane Mdlalose, associate consultant at Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

For any consumer goods manufacturer the topic of trade terms and trade investment is a very uncomfortable one. Trade terms have shifted in the wrong direction, in favour of the trade. While over time trade terms have increased, the relative returns for you have not been felt, therefore resulting in terms that don’t drive your strategy. It’s no wonder you and your team feel short-changed at negotiation time!

Read More
If you don’t know how a consumer thinks, you don’t know them at all - Psychographic profiling a great tool for shopper marketing

Today’s consumer is a complicated beast and simply classifying them based on a demographic perspective is a big blunder.

Read More
Have corporates lost the entrepreneurial spirit?

Some of the greatest enterprises in our history were based on what most with a corporate background would consider a harebrained scheme. All corporate organisations started out as an entrepreneurial idea and at the core of entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity and turning opportunity into a tangible result that smacks of success.

Read More
Bad Customer service kills businesses

Is good customer service a thing of the past, think about your last few customer service experiences and chances are they were all bad. Is it really that hard to get it right or so easy to get it wrong? 

Why is it companies spend so much money and effort to acquire customers but so little on keeping them happy?  I wonder how many companies compare their advertising budget to their customer service budget. 

Read More
Key steps to creating a business strategy

Whether you are leading a big organization or a small to medium-sized business, the challenges facing you when developing a solid business strategy are pretty much the same. 

The days of 100 page business plans are over, if this may offend the MBA graduates I do apologise, however I speak from experience when I say most CEOs, MD’s and business leaders are under immense pressure with their time. In the past we had the luxury of developing a strategy over months, in today’s world we have weeks to do so.

Read More
People from developing markets make better leaders

 

Managers who have successfully navigated developing markets, make great leaders, often better than those from developed, more stable, mature markets. 

The types of challenges these managers face every single day, the experience they gain in developing markets takes a manager in a developed market months or years to gain. The richness, complexity, diversity of different situations and the ability to get things done in a tough environment are exactly what’s required to develop strong leaders.  It doesn’t mean developed markets don’t develop great leaders, I am just saying developing markets do it better. 

Read More
Brand Building Part 3: Creating Value vs. Price

Brand Building Part 3: Creating Value vs. Price

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Building brands is no easy matter. Brand marketing has never been more challenging, complex and competitive as it is today. This is the final of the series of blogs that outlines the common pitfalls brands make and provides insights on how to go from good to great brand building.

Value is not the same as price.

Many marketers focus on the price of their brand/s without emphasising their value.

Read More
Brand Building Part 2: Tips for writing a sound creative brief

Brand Building Part 2: Tips for writing a sound creative brief

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Building brands is no easy matter. Brand marketing has never been more challenging, complex and competitive as it is today. This is the second in a series of three blogs that outlines the common pitfalls brands make, and provides insights on how to go from good to great in brand building.

Poor advertising results from a poor brief

How often do we see advertising that is

Read More
Brand Building Part 1: Be true to your brand’s equity

Brand Building Part 1: Be true to your brand’s equity

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa

Building brands is no easy matter. Brand marketing has never been more challenging, complex and competitive as it is today. This is the first in a series of three blogs that outlines the common pitfalls brands make and provides insights on how to go from good to great brand building.

Read More
Winning Advertising Creative - you get what you brief

Winning Advertising Creative - you get what you brief

By Dina Myers, director and co-founder of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

While a brand manager’s dream is to produce a TV advert that galvanises the consumer to rush out and purchase their product, the likely scenario is that consumers want to skip past the ad they see on TV.

Many consumers get turned off rather than turned on by advertising creative.

Read More
The Super Bowl for Advertising

The Super Bowl for Advertising

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio

The Super Bowl is not just a sporting event but a major gobal event showcasing advertising beyond the regular American football fan. The adverts have become a cultural phenomenon of their own. The Super Bowl is not only one of most watched sporting events in the world and now is one of the major brand platforms in the world.

So whats trending?

The savvy folks in advertising recognised the importance of digital and viral campaigns as part of their Super Bowl strategy. This maximises the value of an enormous

Read More
Finding Emotional Benefits

Brands must find the “emotional” benefit to connect with consumers

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many international and local brands make the mistake of their marketing and promotional campaigns not being relevant to consumers.

Dina Myers, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa says, “Marketers go for too complicated or idealistic ideas that look good in the board room but do not relate to the reality of the market

Read More
Not Local Still Lekker

Brands that are Not Local are still Lekker

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

There are many brands that have become iconic in the eyes of South Africans over the generations yet they are not local at all. They have inserted themselves over the years into the daily lives of South Africans and have been adopted by consumers as if they were in fact local brands.

Brands such as Sunlight, Cadbury, Marmite, Coca Cola, Milo, VW, KFC, Wimpy, Johnnie Walker, Colgate - to name

Read More
Private Label Threats

Private Label Brands are the biggest threat to FMCG companies

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Private label brands are no longer a cheap alternative to the FMCG category, they have evolved into exclusive trusted brands that retailers have created, which keep consumers returning to their stores. As a result private labelling has become a major threat to FMCG brands that now have to differentiate their brand benefits even more strongly.

Read More
Iconic South African Brands

Reflections of Iconic South African Brands

By Michael Wood, Director of Aperio, a business consulting company focused on accelerating growth of FMCG brands in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

As the South African Heritage Day approaches take a moment to think fondly of those iconic brands that contribute to our heritage and who we are,unique in this world and proudly South African.

Read More
Townships Brand Building

How to successfully build brands in townships

By Michael Wood, Aperio Director

Reaching the illusive township shopper is high on the agenda of most FMCG companies that want to tap into the buying power of South Africans in some 43 major metro townships.

Read More
Is Africa the next BRIC market?

Is Africa the next BRIC market?

By Michael Wood, Aperio Director

Africa has become the next springboard for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies due to strong African GDP growth, an increasingly urban and growing middle class, and a strong consumption drive in the African economy.

Read More
BRAND INITIATIVES

Brand Initiatives - why do FMCG companies get it wrong?

By Michael Wood, Aperio Director

The amount of activity in the FMCG category is mind boggling. If you just walk down any supermarket aisle you will see an explosion of new to market product innovations, consumer promotions or just simple price promotions. You would expect that shoppers would be blown away by how much activity there is, or will they?

Read More
SHOPPERS

Shoppers dictate Manufactures and Retailer’s future

By Jenny Loomes, Aperio Associate Consultant

In a world where shopper and consumer behaviour is proving to be very difficult to predict, it is becoming increasingly difficult to market effectively and more efficiently to consumers.

Read More
FMCG SALES

Beating the FMCG sales blues

By Michael Wood, Aperio Director

Current consumer confidence in South Africa is at its lowest level in nine years and even worse consumers expect the economic situation to worsen over the next 12 months as reported by the FNB Bureau for Economic Research. Most FMCG companies have had a tough start to trading in the first 3 months of 2013 and in the short future there is no prospect of a quick turnaround.

Read More
WASHING POWDER WARS

Classic Clashes - Washing Powder Wars

Think of those classic sporting clashes between old rivals Springboks and All Blacks, Chiefs v Pirates, or Nadal v Djokovic. A battle between two old rivals almost as equal as each other, bitterly fought, won with sweat, blood and tears. Now translate that into the FMCG industry: over the next weeks and months South Africa is about to witness such a classic clash in the washing powder category.

Read More
FMCG GROWTH

Indian FMCG goods see low growth despite massive spend on advertising - is price cutting the right strategy?

Read More