The goal of a strategic session: a dot on the horizon that you all work towards. Essential for lasting growth of your organization, but it is not simple. So on to the drawing board. All stakeholders are present, and everyone has different ideas. Which are the best? How do you come together to the strategy? And how do you determine and prioritize the right action points to achieve that goal together?

The ultimate strategic session

The session that works for everyone does it exist? No. Such a meeting is always tricky. However, we can roughly subdivide these meetings into four types of sessions.

1. The strategic foundation

This is the session for young organizations that want to set up a very first foundation. It is also for companies that want to position themselves completely different, just because the market demands it.

When drawing up a strategic foundation, it is necessary to step back to the base. To design such a foundation, you determine the Why, the How and the What of an organization. A classic formula, but oh so important. What you put down here on paper is, in fact, what initially was your reason to set up this organization at all. Make sure everyone is behind the mission and vision of the company. Why do you do what you do? How do you do that? And what will you eventually sell?

This will then automatically result in the so-called North Star Metric. That is the metric that indicates how successful your organization is. For Facebook, that is the number of daily users. For Airbnb, that is the number of nights booked. If you follow North Star Metric every day and do everything to keep growing in that metric, you will automatically be successful.

2. Annual or quarterly targets

This session speaks for itself: a workshop to determine the yearly or quarterly objectives together. In Silicon Valley, they make use of the OKR Goal-setting framework: a popular application, conceived by chip manufacturer Intel, and now accessible worldwide. With various brainstorming techniques and discussions, main objectives and subgoals are on the table.

Let your objectives be general and abstract. For the Key Results, they are measurable goals, usually about five, that say something about whether or not you’ve achieved your objectives. An example: if you talk about the authority of the market as an objective, you want to meet in marketing terms, an increase of the amount of direct traffic, the number of branded searches, number of Instagram followers, market sharing, community members, and so on. If you need a quick boost, you can buy followers on Instagram to get your social media marketing strategy started.

3. Search the product marketplace

Nothing is more important than your target group. They are your customers, and customers are the heart of every organization. But who exactly is the target group? Can we subdivide them into segments, and what do they look like? These are the types of questions that are discussed during this session.

Also look for benefits and/or possible objections from the target group to use your product or service. You determine the Before and After status of a consumer.

The challenge lies in analyzing the target group. Several methods can help you determine your segments:

  • Search for data in Google Analytics: what are the demographics, geographics, and interests of people who are now very active on your website?
  • Just by discussing with all stakeholders: which questions and challenges do your colleagues currently observe with customers?
  • Dare to ask questions to your customers and prospects: how did you get to us? What are the most significant problems that you anticipate for the coming year?

4. Set up a customer journey

This session is about completing the customer journey. This is often the last of the strategy sessions that you have. Once we know the value proposition of a company, what the objectives are, who the target group is and what the message we want to send is, then comes the most practical part: giving substance to the marketing approach per target group.

The See-Think-Do-Care model is popular and works fine, but are actually based on traditional, offline marketing. The new, online-focused customer journey has some extra essential changes. The customer has merely more touchpoints in the customer journey nowadays: Respond after See. And Care can be split into Return and Recommend.

Indicate for each phase in the customer journey what the message is, the necessary channels and with which marketing action you are going to bind the target group to you. The best way to do this is by brainstorming in small teams. This is how the best ideas arise. Then you can prioritize the plans and determine which actions are essential for the short term, and which ones are important for the long run. This creates a roadmap of steps to achieve these objectives.

Digital Growth Canvas

As a result of all these four sessions, you have a decent strategy that you can use for the time being. It is essential that growth is central to this. Probably online activity plays a vital role for every organization here.

This brings together your company and online objectives, product market fit, and the customer journey. You divide your goals per phase in the customer journey into actions, to which you then link the essential metrics. At the bottom, you fill in three final essential parts: what you need for creativity, data, and technology to achieve your goals.

Prioritize ideas

You cannot do everything at once. That is why you have to prioritize. A handy and straightforward model that you can apply: The Now-How-Wow matrix.

Conclusion. A checklist before you start a strategic session

Have you planned a strategic meeting soon? To end the session with a box full of good ideas and concrete action points, you need proper preparation. Think about the following: Is there a business strategy already present? Or are there more general business objectives? Write it down, because your online plan must, of course, fit in here. Think about the mission, vision and value proposition of your organization.