A company that hopes for a prosperous future must have a sound plan. In the world of Sales and Marketing this is called Corporate Strategy.
Corporate Strategy is the overall direction of the company, defined by senior management, that takes into consideration an assessment of the existing capabilities of the company and external opportunities and threats. It usually coincides with the immediate future fiscal period or it could be developed with a longer-term view, such as a three-year plan.
It is important to understand the overall Corporate Strategy and its relationship to sales and marketing. The Marketing Strategy works within the direction provided by the overall Corporate Strategy of the company and also interacts with other elements of the Corporate Strategy.
Corporate Strategy is a combination of the following:
- Senior Management Direction and Insights: This is provided by senior management based on their experiences and insights related to the business.
- Corporate Product Strategy: This defines the products or services the company offers and the research and development efforts required to create them.
- Corporate Marketing Strategy: This defines how the company will target, position, market and sell the planned products and defines metrics, targets and budgets for all marketing activities.
- Corporate Operations Strategy: This defines how the company will manage operational activities, manufacture its products and provide the corresponding customer support and warranty.
- Corporate Finance Strategy: This defines how the company will manage its finances, attain funding and financially sustain its operations. The Finance Strategy should include forecasts and projections and summarize costs, income and investments.
- Corporate Human Resource Strategy: This maps the human resource capabilities within the company and considers talent management and acquisition needs to sustain growth.
Typically, companies have existing documentation regarding their component strategies. These must be considered in an integrated manner to define a coherent Corporate Strategy. The level and complexity of documentation for these strategies may vary depending on the size of the company and the breadth of its product portfolio and geographic reach. If formal documentation of these strategies is not available—for instance, as with a start-up company—the teams involved in strategic planning should consider the various strategies and decide on an overall Corporate Strategy, which can then become a benchmark to execute future plans. The SMstudy® Guide framework is a great help in this endeavor.
Finalizing the company’s Corporate Strategy can be a time-consuming and rigorous exercise that requires inputs from multiple stakeholders, particularly senior management. It is advisable to execute strategic planning exercises at appropriate and specific time intervals, such as once or twice a year, and then finalize a Corporate Strategy on which senior management and the heads of strategy teams agree. Following this process will help to ensure that the leadership team has coherently defined goals and strategies that align with the overall strategic goals of the organization.
The Corporate Strategy can be divided into lower level strategies depending on the complexity of the organization. For example, the Corporate Strategy for an entire company can be divided into strategies for each business unit or geographic region such as country, state, or city, and then subdivided further into a Product or Brand Strategy for each product or brand in a business unit or geographic region. The Product or Brand Strategy is the lowest level in this hierarchy.
Corporate strategy is an umbrella under which many components of a company plan for future profitability. When that umbrella operates at full force, the forecast calls for raining money.