Your Strategic Plan For Success
To say 2011 was an interesting year for business would be an understatement. Unless you were unplugged from every source of news and information, it was impossible to have missed the unprecedented global changes that are impacting every industry and the worldwide markets. Specifically to the promotional products industry, we've been hit hard by raw material cost increases, changing demographics in China, public budget cuts for swag, and continuous building of pressure on our supply chains through supply and demand as well as evolving product safety and compliance regulations.
Our industry is going to be hard-pressed to continue to thrive during the next decade if we do not take a hard look at our business models and best practices. Perhaps these outside influences are telling us that it is time for some (or all) of us to evolve.
Thus, there has never been a better time to get serious about your strategic plan for success. Companies that can best identify where and how to compete and then quickly implement a strategy to address these opportunities will have the tools to thrive throughout the next five to 10 years. And differentiation is a key component. A strong, specific strategy for differentiation in our crowded marketplace may be what determines if your organization can weather the ongoing storm of forces bearing down on our industry. To see what I mean, check out the previous post "Are You Meaningfully Different."
Why is your strategic strategy so critical this year? In addition to the unprecedented outside influences mentioned above, there are few industries that face more internal competitive forces than the promotional products industry—and all of these forces are getting stronger.
An article in the Harvard Business Review, "The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy," by Michael E. Porter illustrates this point. Porter's excellent commentary addresses some of the critical underlying issues our industry faces, issues that place pressure on profitability and make developing a competitive advantage to combat these forces at a premium for long-term success.