Category Archives: Strategic Planning

Articles about long range planning

Paralysis by analysis

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Over the years I have preached (sorry) about how important it is to measure success. All plans need measurable goals or how will you know if the are working. There are lots of tools available to help measure how your communication/marketing strategy is working online, or even in the traditional media world.

And there is always the opportunity to actually talk to customers to get their feedback.

It’s important to analyze the data to know what’s working and whether you are spending to achieve the best results. It can also help identify opportunities that may not have been part of your original plan.


It takes time to wade through the analysis, particularly with the array of tools available.

Adjustments mid-course can be risky and it’s unlikely you are ready to quickly pull the plug on a plan that just a few months ago was the future of your company. But doing nothing is not an option. You’ll probably overthink it, and come up with several reasons why now isn’t good time to tinker. You will rationalize that you have plausible reasons, and not just excuses.

Push past the paralysis of fear and take a leap of faith, and even if you fail, you’ll farther ahead than if you did nothing.

Measuring your business activity is important. Analyzing the results equally so. Make sure you act on them.


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Filed under Communications, Marketing, Strategic Planning

A fresh start in 2014

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes
The start of a new year is a time of renewal and for many a period of optimism,  hopefully building on the success of last year.

Ideally, 2014 is the next stepping stone in your long-term plan. For some, it might require an adjustment because plans often require tweeking. Maybe you are ahead of where you expected to be at this point. Maybe not. Either way the start of the year is the perfect time to set in motion a plan that propels your business forward.

If your plan in 2013 fell short of expectations, I hope you were able to assess what went wrong, and adjust. For that to happen you had to set measurable goals that can be evaluated all year long. Quarterly analysis is a good milestone. You also needed to look at the external environment– the local economy and your competitors for example. And talking to your customers for their input can help you determine what you might have done differently.

If your business is ahead of where you expected, it’s important to understand why so you can continue to build on that momentum. So, set goals and measure quarterly. Adjust as required.

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Filed under Marketing, Small Business, Strategic Planning, Uncategorized

Stand for something

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Earlier week I listened to Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson speak to a sold-out business audience at an event hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade. The advertisement for his event said Ms Dickinson was to speak about Drug Runners, Arctic Sovereignty, Entrepreneurs, Jobs in the GTA and the Royal Canadian Navy.

Initially I couldn’t make the connection; why was one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketing communications entrepreneurs, CEO of Venture Communications,  speaking about piracy and drugs on the high seas.

Clearly, Arlene is a draw no matter what she is speaking about; the event was sold out two weeks early.

MBOT_Nov_12_201304She spoke passionately about the Royal Canadian Navy and encouraged Mississauga business people to support the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy because it could provide 1,600 new jobs for Ontario.

She is an Honorary Captain in the Navy and a huge supporter of the role the it plays in keeping shipping lines open around the world, stopping drugs from entering our schools and protecting Arctic Sovereignty.

But she is also one the country’s best marketers and in a room of business people it was inevitable that her advice would be sought. In the Q&A she was asked how to grow a business and provided three tips

  1. Invest in yourself
  2. Invest in other entrepreneurs as you are able
  3. Make sure you have a strategy – be clear in what you stand for and amplify it.

The last point resonated with me because I see it most often. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t have a plan. It’s equally surprising how many businesses have not thought about how they are different from their competitors, and why someone should buy their product or service.

Stand for something yes, but stand for something that your customers can relate to and let them tell your story. It takes some thought and some planning.

Pictured Karen Ras, Chair of Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT), Arlene, Sheldon Leiba President and CEO MBOT and Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. More Photos Here

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Filed under Branding, Marketing, Stephen Rhodes, Strategic Planning

Heartfelt thanks to all our clients, suppliers and associates.

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowmanstephen2

The Marketing Pad Inc. takes home the Platinum!

We are honoured to have been voted the Platinum Award Winners in The Brampton Business Times Reader’s Choice Awards for 2013 in the categories of “Advertising and Marketing”, as well as “Communications and Public Relations” and “Web Design”.bbt_platinum_13-001

We also won Gold in “Graphics” and Silver in “Corporate Training and Development”.

We would like to thank all our clients and suppliers for their support over the past years!

Please read the story on The Marketing Pad at this link.

Brampton Business Times  (Right hand side of page)

The Marketing Pad is very much padding it s CV with more wins in our Top Performers online survey.

With a platinum win in Advertising & Marketing, another in Communications Sales & Service, a gold in Graphics, and another platinum in Web Design, this service provider to the business community is indeed on a roll ….


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Filed under advertising, Communications, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Stephen Rhodes, Strategic Planning, Training and Development

Orienteering through Your Business.

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

“Unless we progress, we regress” said Dwight D. Eisenhower back in 1959. All our business strategies when combined should be leading us in a progressive pattern. Yes, times have been difficult over the last several years, however that doesn’t mean a business can’t be moving forward, planning ahead, and planting the seeds for future expansion and growth. After the first six months of the year it is time to settle in and review some of the key things that might affect your strategic plan.

I tend to focus on three key areas of a business when looking at where we have come from and the future direction we need to take.  We don’t have a Business GPS that will pinpoint our final destination and tell us step by step which turns  to take.  We do however have our experiential compass that can show us the general direction, based on our past movements and the trails we have marked to get to the current position. At times when we feel a little lost however there are many tools at hand that we can utilize to get back on course. A strong business strategy serves as the basis for all future actions, and from time to time these might need to be tweaked or altered a little, a few degrees here and there.

Consider the following three “influencers” to determine if it is the plan that needs some alterations or is it tools and support you have in place to get you where you want to be. First, what if any landscape changes are you encountering on your journey? Has competition changed?  Has the marketplace grown or retracted? Depending on what your product or service is, has consumer attitude changed?  Is your brand more or less recognized?  What is being said about you in social media circles? These all have an impact on your business, just the same as the landscape would if you were hiking through dense forest, thick marsh, inclement weather conditions etc. We always plan for these events, however it is the smart business person that recognizes theses changes and adapts. Clipboard01

Second, is everyone on your team paddling in the same direction? It may be time to review your goals and objectives with the entire team.  Explain your progress, and ask for feedback on possible alternatives to past actions that did not get you the results you were hoping for.

Finally, has the leader in the group demonstrated the skills and competencies that make them a good leader? Flexibility, positive thinking, the ability to manage internal conflict, foresight and most importantly do they delegate authority? When the business is doing well, everyone is happy, however throw a few missed objectives, a string of poor revenue performing months or some other distraction into the mix and the added pressures can have ill effects on the employees and the leaders of the organization. Most of us have seen in our business lives the type of leader who owns the successes but positions the failures on others.

Progress needs to be monitored to ensure that we are advancing and not just going in circles.  The six month mark is an excellent time to see exactly what your coordinates are!

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Filed under Jeff Bowman, Managing, Sales, Strategic Planning, Training and Development