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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Business strategy 101: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Planning and re-planning is a big part of running a business, short- and long-term strategies are important, and they help you keep your company on the right track...

Updated: August 13, 2020 3:44:03 pm
Reza Shojaei, Founder of Value Marketing | Photo: Erik Burås/Studio B13

As strange as it sounds, not all businesses have a clear-cut plan. Many have a vague plan that relates to their internal mission, but they may not have all the plans and goals written out. Meanwhile, other businesses have plans, but they may be poorly executed. Sometimes, business executives have planned in such a manner that their employees are completely unaware of it, which (ultimately) makes it impossible for employees to work towards reaching such goals. 

Frankly, not having a plan for everything makes running a business more or less a mess. It becomes a guessing game rather than a mission to get to certain goals. 

Reza Shojaei, the founder of Value Marketing, has plans for his multimillion-dollar international company. And as you can guess, the company did not become a success by accident.

A business plan is the first step

Without a solid business plan, no business can work. A business plan is more than just a tool for fundraising: it is a roadmap for the future of your business. Writing out your business plan helps you to review everything from finances to marketing and to spot connections that you otherwise could have easily missed. 

A business plan will make everything clear and reaching your goals will be easier, when you have them on paper. It helps you to analyze the success of your business down the road and see if it is going in the right direction. And should your business sway from the main road, you will find your way back with your solid roadmap.

“When Value Marketing started, we started out as a face-to-face sales marketing company. But in 2017, we changed our business model to an online-based iGaming market and now we have taken the business to a different direction,” according to Shojaei. 

The plan can always be altered and changed, and it does not mean that you will have to follow the plan to the T. However, if there is no plan whatsoever, how can you expect to get to your goals?

“We have broken down our year in three-month increments. The content is planned three months ahead of time and all of our copywriters and editors know what to expect. They also know what the goals are, and it is easier for them to work toward the goals. This way, the milestones can be reached together,” he adds.

A comprehensive business plan also includes financial plans for the upcoming years. Generally, businesses divide their financial plan into four quarters over the year. Every three months, there is another financial goal to be met. Making realistic financial projections helps you to meet the goals and see if there is room for growth. 

Reza Shojaei, Founder of Value Marketing | Photo: Erik Burås/Studio B13

Marketing strategy gets your business in front of people

Marketing is what gets your business in front of potential customers. You can have the best business and excellent products, but if no one knows about it, the company will not succeed. The main purpose of a marketing plan is creating awareness, getting leads, and converting them to clients. However, an effective plan for marketing will also outline sales goals. 

Every business should come up with a couple of marketing channels that they utilise. Not every channel works for every business, so it is important to take into account the best ways that are suited to your business specifically. 

Value Marketing has three main brands: CasinoTopp, CasinoTop.com and Norges Casino. They operate purely online and their purpose is to provide readers with great information about iGaming related subjects, such as online casinos and software providers. Shojaei says, “The best marketing strategy for Value Marketing includes SEO – or in other words, search engine optimisation.” 

He further adds, “iGaming markets are very strictly regulated in many countries, and oftentimes, direct marketing, advertising, and commercials are not allowed. However, we can utilise SEO to drive more traffic and readers to our sites.”  

Any online based business will benefit greatly from search engine optimization. It allows possibly billions of people from all over the world to reach and see your business.

However, not every business operates solely online, so others may need to come up with more creative tactics. For instance, radio commercials, TV commercials, banners and even a referral program can be great ways of marketing to many. The point is to get your business in front of as many people as possible. And more importantly, in front of the right people, target clients, who can possibly convert to sales. 

In today’s world, social media marketing is a big hit and many companies take advantage of it, as it can be a free marketing tool that allows you to reach millions of people. 

Brand strategy defines your brand and makes it clear to you and your customers

Creating a brand includes much more than just picking the colors for your logo. An effective brand strategy defines who you are, who your business is, and what your values are. It encompasses specific goals that your company can reach as it evolves. A clear and defined strategy touches all aspects of your business from consumer needs to competitive environments, and everything in between.

Many people think that brand is only your logo, your website, or your name. Frankly, it is much more.

“Our brand, CasinoTop, is a multinational brand that is available in different languages and in different locations. Currently, we service 12 different countries and in 2020, our purpose is to open even more markets. Managing such a big brand requires us to have our own brand clearly defined. This helps the readers to recognise us, irrespective of the geographical region from which they are accessing our site. Each market takes into account the certain specifications, requirements, and cultural differences,” Shojaei says.

The main components of a clear brand strategy

What is the purpose of your business and what is its driving factor? What makes you get up in the morning and run your business? The purpose tells consumers what the values of your company are and what you are hoping to achieve. In addition, it can help to define success factors. 

For instance, the purpose of Value Marketing is to provide honest and transparent information to readers around the world. The mission is to have an effective global outreach and to put people first. In fact, Shojaei says, “People need to come first, and money second.” 

“Our brands were never established based on money-driven factors. Instead, we aim to solve a problem: to provide reliable information to readers that helps them to make right choices in the iGaming market and to come back to us. When we reach this goal, money will follow naturally,” Shojaei explains.

He further adds, “Another key point is to keep the brand consistent. When you add photos to your website, on the Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram, it is important to ensure that the content reflects the brand of your business. Everything needs to align with your message.”

For instance, Nike has created a strong brand that never wavers. When you see a photo or a commercial associated with Nike, you know what it is about. Everything from Nike logo to their clothes, sponsored athletes, and social media presence is uniform. 

When creating a brand, you should also take into account human emotions. Humans are not always rational, especially when it comes to purchasing products or services. They connect with their emotions and they want to feel like they belong and are a part of something. Taking into account the fact that people often make decisions based on their emotions rather than logic or rational basis, you can create a more effective brand strategy.

While planning all this, you should still be able to remain flexible. The world changes fast and you need to stay on top of things. Value Marketing made a complete 360 degree turnaround in 2017, when they changed their business model from face-to-face marketing to iGaming. However, the business never lost its momentum; the switch was done smoothly and efficiently.

The brand should also be clear to employees and they should hold onto it, at least while working. For instance, Value Marketing ensures that each and every one of their copywriters and editors understand the importance of transparency and honesty. Each article and review must be written from a third-party perspective and be completely unbiased.

“I only want to take on cooperation from companies that I would recommend to my own friends and family. This makes everything clear cut. Would I recommend this to my friends? No? Not interested,” Shojaei says.

The employees need to be on the same wavelength with the brand’s mission. And as they understand your values, they know what your company needs and wants, and they are more willing to perform on the required level – and possibly even beyond. As they do, ways of rewarding loyalty and good work are always appreciated, and it leaves a good taste. 

Employees and their well-being, understanding, and inclusion are important to remember because at the end of the day, they are the crucial link between your business and your customer. A happy employee will be happy at work, too, and it will reflect well on your business and brand. 

On the other hand, an unhappy one will do the exact opposite. 

When creating your brand strategy, competitive awareness is one of the key factors, as well. Every business should analyze its competitors and see what they do and do not do to succeed. Though you may not want to (nor should you) do exactly the same, it can be a great guideline to see what works and what does not.

Well-planned is half-way done

Planning and re-planning is a big part of running a business. Short- and long-term strategies are important, and they help you keep your company on the right track. Defining goals in every aspect of your business gives you a roadmap that you can follow in the busy days. When you use time for crafting a well-defined business plan, marketing strategy, brand strategy, and financial strategy, it will become simpler to take your business to the next level.

(Brand Initiative – Content Provided by Growthxo)

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