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Tom Marin

Building Brands

By Tom Marin

About Tom

Tom Marin is the managing partner of and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.


How You Know if You Have a Strong Strategic Plan

We’re often asked by CEOs, “How do I know if my company has a strong strategic plan?” Followed by, “If my company doesn’t have an effective strategy, how the heck do we go about getting one?”

In the world of strategic market planning there are hundreds of theories, but, luckily, there are a few tools you can use to check your strategic plan quickly. We’ve included here a handy set of references that will help you benchmark your strategic program and also highlighted a “before and after” case study of a middle-market business-to-business company.

Moving from best efforts to best practices

Typically, company strategic plans rely upon the best instincts and efforts of the leadership team. This process could be termed an “in strategy.” Gut instincts are often employed to determine an organization’s most important decisions. If executives guess right, all is well. But if they guess wrong, disaster can result.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are three best practices that will help guide your company to success:

Best Practice #1: Make sure your leadership team is fully aligned on what the company’s top-three strategic initiatives are, and working as a cohesive group on achieving them.

Best practice #2: Make sure everyone in your company understands your value proposition and can state it in a simple sentence or two. An example might be, “Our company invented the XYZ product that can save your company up to 50 percent on your energy costs during the first year.”

Best Practice #3: Ensure your company has an objective brand asset valuation. This means you know what your brand’s strengths and weaknesses are against your top competitors. We are not talking about your logo or website. Those are not your brand. Rather, your brand is how others think about your company as a distinctive organization and its association with what they need.

A company we recently worked with had a tremendous technical skill set and naturally marketed the business using its in-house, techno-speak team, thinking this would impress its customers. In actuality, it turned them off. So much so, the only people who really understood what they were talking about were the employees inside the company. While we favor an organization developing its own way of doing things and talking about them, customers need to readily understand the communications and be able to respond easily.

Through a series of active workshops, we gathered information on the company’s service offerings into its language first, then interpreted these service descriptions and rewrote them in simple, everyday language. The net result was more effective marketing presentations leading to an increase in business development.

This is one example of how a company improved its strategic market planning. For other examples, click here.
Tom Wants to Hear Your Branding Issues:
If you are a printing company or product/services company serving the print-media market and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please contact Tom Marin for an interview.

Follow MarketCues on Twitter for branding and social media tips, as well as the latest trends. Tom also welcomes emails, new LinkedIn connections, calls to 407.330.7708 or visit How can he help solve your branding issues?

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