Ep. 34 Why Your One-Page Strategic Plan is Lame

NOV. 15, 2020

For years, I’ve talked about having a 1-page Strategic Plan which contains your one-line competitive strategy and outlines the key playbook you are testing to drive exponential growth for your business.


I even gave away my own template to another 20 folks last month at my quarterly Riding the Ramp webinar. Psstt…next one is Dec. 4. Sign up now because spaces are limited. Link is on my Founder’s Resources page. Now, I will stop plugging myself.


But there’s a problem. Most 1-pagers out there suck.



They’re not based on real data, on any empirical understanding of your actual competitive position.


There’s the data part. Sure. And then there’s the ability to interpret it well.


Look, there is no ONE pre-ordained strategy you need to discover and execute. There are usually multiple that will work. This is where the primal risk exists for founders. In picking one strategy and sticking to it as the world surrounds you with doubt skepticism, rage and, yes, uncritical applause (the worst). Until it doesn’t work.


The alternative is kind of tactical flailing, which exposes you to near-term signals from all directions.


Data-driven brands with a focused strategy are better able to ignore the smoke and mirrors, shiny objects, trade show distractions, etc.


Skate Ramp brands, the ones that grow exponentially off a small base, pick and re-pick their strategy as they grow adapting their playbook to changing competitive circumstances.


But, if you don’t use real external data as a foundation for your strategic plan, you’re just winging it all over again. It’s not even clear if a plan without market data is even helping you much. And, even worse, without data from your fans, you will more easily project your own motives onto your consumers. This leads to mistaken buyer pitches, poor messaging on pack, poor communications work, and the list goes on.


There are some very well publicized startups that raised enormous sums of cash up front, led often by serial CEOs and founders. They alone can afford to paper over strategic blunders with their enormous cash cushion. This often buys time to course correct that you won’t have, it misfires wildly into the wrong channels and geographies. Cash-rich star|tups tend to overspend on trade promos and buy trial through the Ibotta trade promo nexus.


Again, this can work, but it’s just not a path available to 95% of you listening. So, ignore the headlines about these companies. The media follows whatever drives clicks. This means, covering Big raises. What serial CEO Mark Awesome is doing next… What Skate Ramp winner thinks about…well…anything…oh wait, plant-based meat….yes! Vegan clickbait baby. Click. Click. Click.


Did you know watermelons are vegan? Click.


Whenever I see an on plant-based meat, I immediately have some beef jerky to bring balance back to the force.


If you’re wondering how to best figure out what your consumers really think about you…so that your strategic plan actually has a foundation, here’s the key: focus on your fans who buy you repeatedly, preferably those who have created a habit of buying you (at least once a month) for more than six months.


This is something you can survey yourself from inside your e-mail lists and social media followers. It’s called purposive sampling in quantitative research. The sample is deliberately biased because that bias has analytical value.


In fact, one of the strongest signs of brand health out there is the completion rate on one of my patented little client surveys…or any survey you field to your e-mail lists and social followings.


I once had a client with 15,000 IG followers who couldn’t get 500 completes on a 5-minute survey for repeat purchasers. Why? They had a low repeat rate AND they had stuffed their IG page with bullshit followers driven there by paid influencers. This is what happens when you follow the impatient, ‘cute puppies’ theory of digital attention-getting.


I had a client with 1,000 e-mails and 4,000 IG followers who garnered 600 completes of a 5-minute fan survey in 48 hours.


Now that, my friends, is a brand built on real passion. Hard work. Out-of-store grinding.


Not Ibotta coupons.


Ibotta. Ibotta consumer base … mock laughter.


If you want exponential growth, you’d be crazy not to build your 1-page plan on fresh fan feedback and market data. Otherwise, whatever competitive strategy you put down could be way, way off target. It could easily be a strategy to acquire clones of yourself. I hope you know how to build them quickly.


I’m not discounting the fact that you may be intuitively innovative and have launched with just the right symbolism, but this is very, very rare…in fact, it’s more rare than Skate Ramp brands, which aren’t overly common.


That’s why I spent years deconstructing the rules Skate Ramp brands followed, even if it was done unconsciously and intuitively. The patterns are explainable causally.


For most of you, a more analytical, less B2B approach to growth is key to scaling in the 2020s, when the pandemic is the smallest headwind for your business. The big ones are related to your premium price-point and sheer consumer inertia inside your operating category.


If you want to rethink your one-page plan, I’ll be taking another cohort through my proprietary webinar on Dec. 4. Just visit my website www.premiumgrowthsolutions.com/founder-resources to grab a spot early. Only 20 seats.


That’s all I have this time, friends.


And remember, be safe out there