NAILBA Perspectives Spring 2020 | Page 36

MARKETING The missing component in strategic plans It’s that glorious event. A time when your whole team comes together to discuss your firm’s strategies for the coming year — the annual strategic plan. Opportunities and challenges are discussed. A meal is shared. The whiteboard and flipchart are a bounty of ideas. It’s a celebration of motivation. And then you look up…and it’s June. For some firms, that beautiful strategic plan you created has not been looked at for months. We go to the common drive to print it off and say, “How are we doing?” The problem is there may be a missing component in your strategic plan. Tiffany Markarian is Founder and Managing Director of Advantus Marketing, LLC. Helping BGAs, wealth advisors and insurance professionals since 1995, she is a frequent author for industry journals and speaker at industry conferences. She can be reached at [email protected]. 36 Perspectives Q2 2020 Where strategic plans fall short The annual strategic plan is a necessary component for every business. It involves researching your market, clarifying your vision, positioning your value with the right clientele and identifying your SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). But, here’s the most important component. The top firms in any industry not only have a clear strategic plan; they focus on an action plan. They systematize the required tools, team roles and performance accountability for implementation. This is the secret to true strategic planning – you need to have an action plan for implementation that begins once the strategies are finalized. Otherwise, your strategic plan is simply a set of ideas. For some firms, annual strategic planning is a team exercise to motivate everyone for the coming year. They believe it is a necessary function of leadership, and it is. However, strategic plans are useless if not acted upon with regularity. When done wrong, problems occur If your firm has a pattern of stops and starts with strategic planning, the process becomes a chore and an eye-roll for your team. It’s a reminder that great ideas will be talked about only to fall by the wayside with no execution. If you want your team to be excited about strategic planning and have your annual plan come to fruition, build in an action plan to tackle your strategies. Your action plan becomes the focus of your weekly team meetings. Your team will start to see real progress as you complete what was agreed upon.