Strategic Planning: Critical To Sales Success

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By Ryan Dohrn


Clark Crouch, an award winning poet and performing artist, once said, “Strategic planning is a process by which we can envision the future and develop the necessary procedures and operations to influence and achieve that future.”

I could not agree more.

Do you have plans for your spring strategy meeting?  You know the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  So, set a date today and think about the eight steps I use to set your day of planning in motion.

First, ask questions internally like the following:

  •   What is the goal of our strategic planning?
  •   Are we looking to just work on revenue issues, or are we trying to restructure our goals and initiatives?
  •   Do we have the budget to hire a facilitator?  If not, read on.
  •   Should we meet in-house or go off-site?  I like to go off-site.  Remove distractions.  Find a comfy place with a lot of white boards.

Ask questions of yourself and then ask questions of the person you may hire to facilitate.

You will want to quickly determine if you want to host the strategic planning on your own or hire an outside guru to help.  You see, all strategy-planning sessions are not created equal.  Most sessions are “led” by people trained to facilitate.  A quality facilitator need not know your industry to be effective.  But, you may want more.

My media clients demand more from me.  They want their strategy planning session to be part planning, part learning and part growing.  A good strategic planner will answer your questions fully.  If you can, find an expert that knows your industry inside and out.  All in all, I find that an expert can help guide you and you will get more from your day.  Most will cost $2,500 – $5,500 per day plus expenses depending on their experience and industry knowledge.

Now, let’s say that budget is an issue or you just want to facilitate the strategic planning on your own, no problem.  Here is how I break down strategic planning for my media clients.

Rather than following the standard S.W.O.T. formula, (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) I take a different path toward strategic planning for media success.

I begin my strategy planning with a five-part approach: I call it the “Big 5.”

Let’s walk through the steps.  You can tackle these steps on your own, but you miss out on the value that a person outside your bubble brings to the total process.

There are five “channels” to your media business success:  Products, Sales, Marketing, Content and Retention.  Each one needs a specific plan and attention.  Products are areas of revenue focus like public events, live remotes or on-air specials.  Sales is all about your sales process.  Marketing is your audience acquisition plans.  Content is your programming.  Retention is all about your plan to retain advertisers and viewers/listeners.

You then break out each of these channels in vivid detail.  Allocate one hour to each.  Use easel pads to place large sheets on the walls with vivid color markers.

Next within each channel, I focus on process, problems and people.   Break it down.  Get specific.  Really specific!

Within each channel now dig deeper, under process, problems and people, further define strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each.

Next, you need a detailed transition plan for each channel.  (Meaning you can’t just walk in one day and say, “Drop it all, we’ve got a plan!”)

Create a detailed action plan for each channel.

Assign roles and responsibilities within each channel.

Create an accountability schedule and stick to it.

So, when is your strategic planning day?  Set a date today and get rolling.  Do not wait until December.  If you do the holiday’s will swallow you up and you will enter 2014 with the same plan as you have now.


ryan-dhornRyan Dohrn is the CEO of Brain Swell Media and Publisher/CEO of Sales Training World, launched in January 2016. His passion for radio and television began at Classical WQXR-FM in New York in the early 1990s under Warren Bodow, and led him to his last post at GM of Morris Communications in Augusta. Ga. Dohrn is presently based in Tulsa, Okla.  

Contact the writer via LinkedIn

This column originally appeared in the Radio + Television Business Report on August 28, 2013.