This article appeared originally at

We have written successful strategic plans for start-ups, small businesses, nonprofits, banks, downtowns and entire communities. Over the past 20 years of facilitating this process, I learned what works and what definitely doesn’t work and I want to share this with you now.

Why a strategic plan? This is the single most important asset to any organization. Without purpose and direction, your company will not win.

So, my goal with this two-article series is to provide you with some practical, experienced advice to develop your road map to success. I will write about:

Who should facilitate the strategic planning process?

Strategic planning can be an emotional process, with personal agendas filled with assumptions, especially if you’re going through this process for the first time or haven’t updated your plan in a while. If this is your first strategic plan, seriously consider having someone outside of your organization facilitate the process. If you’re updating your strategic plan, chances are someone working in the company who is organized, diplomatic and neutral will do a good job. If not, call a pro.

A frequently asked question is, “Why should I call a marketing person to facilitate strategic planning?” The answer is simple: The purpose of a strategic plan is to develop and implement internal and external strategies to gain market share. Who knows more about gaining market share than marketing professionals? In addition, the strategic planning process uses the same approach as marketing planning – it’s what marketing people do every day. However, I can recommend many other groups and organizations:

Strategic Planning – Let’s get started.
A great strategic plan acts as the roadmap for how the entire organization will reach its final destination – your vision. It outlines strategies and prioritizes activities for finances, operations, facilities and of course, sales and marketing.

If you’re entering a strategic planning process, you should be confident about these five things:

    1. Understand the market

    2. Have a clear vision and mission of the company (remember: the vision is the end game and the mission are the things you do every day to get you there)

    3. Can guarantee that you will deliver nothing less than great products/services that customers need

    4. Have the right person to facilitate and document the process

    5. AND, most important: Understand that the #1 objective is customer satisfaction, which is key to owning and leading your market

Once you and your team are clear on these points, you are ready to begin! Stay tuned next week for how to start writing your strategic plan.

About the Author: Karyn Olson

Karyn Olson is the CEO and Chief Strategist of the Upper Peninsula Marketing Department, Inc. You can see her company’s work at

Leave a Reply