Key Components of a Good 2023 Strategic Plan

Sorry for the clickbait. This is not about current events or about 2023.

This is an evergreen sermon on why you have to have a concise, crisp strategic plan, even as a Phase 1 consumer brand.  

You may have heard the phrase “strategic plan” before, even though most new founders rarely use the term. They talk about their business plan.  A strategic plan is the front half of any good business plan, but it is the most poorly thought-out part of most business plans among CPG startups—especially those innovating in premium-priced consumer categories while skirting right up to the edge of the weird. 

The plans I’ve looked at generally seem to be copied from some investor pitch deck. The problem is that a pitch deck is a document about the world you want to see. And you’re lucky if it is sprinkled with tidbits of reality. It’s usually full of sheer hyperbole. Not good. But very common. 

Strategic Plans should be based on an optimistic yet sober view of your category and your brand’s role in it. 

Today, I want to share the components of a great strategic plan, including the elements I discussed in my book.

Here goes!

  • The strategy: a competitive theory of capturing $ from other categories with a specific consumer audience. In my book, Ramping Your BrandI boil this down to using initial sales and research to isolate your high-value outcomes and the attribute-outcome signal tied to heavy usage among your fans. This becomes the behavioral basis of your business growth, anchored primarily in product and packaging design. 
  • Top-line revenue goals (should be realistic based on category case studies, broker data, and your degree of competitive advantage)
  • 4P Playbook – How you plan to pursue the strategy:
    • product line (the list of UPCs and their key competitively advantaged attributes)
    • placement (i.e., sales plan by channel and relevant retail banners)
    • promotion (trade and consumer promotional plan)
    • pricing (pricing plan, including the role of discounting)
  • Operational plan (how you plan to produce the required units)
    • unit production plan to provide excess units beyond the target revenue goal
    • COGS and gross profit per unit (to inform your budget)
    • working capital to fund operations
  • Budget for all the above (relying on maximum founder labor, not outsourcing)
  • Alternative methods based on likely risks to any component of your plan (varies by category and competitive positioning)

Dr. James Richardson

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