Planning is Easy. Execution is Hard.

By Bill R. Shelton, CEcD

Most communities find that planning and developing a retail marketing strategy is not difficult but that execution, the implementation of the strategy, is difficult.

Planning involves making choices and setting direction and is normally accomplished by policy groups such as boards or councils. Executing the strategy requires action and the will to follow through. It is the responsibility of staff.

Almost all communities have or will have challenges in executing a retail marketing strategy. They have made the commitment to undertake a retail development program.

A marketing plan has been formulated and the staff members believe they are ready.  Target retailers or developers have been identified and the community starts to aim, but they fail to pull the trigger…and then wonder why nothing has happened.

Consider these four pieces of advice on how to pull the trigger and put fire into a retail marketing plan:

  • Put Execution First. Execution Becomes Job One. Aggressive marketing is the best and only way to execute the retail marketing plan. Execution or marketing demands another set of skills that is not easily found and requires getting out of the office and getting in front of your targeted retail prospects.    
  • Empower Responsibility. All too often, cities make the mistake of not assigning one person or one organization the responsibility of executing the retail marketing plan.  Assembling a retail development team is fine but one person must have the responsibility, accountability and authority to keep the group cohesive and on track.
  • Use Your Allies. In any community, even a small one, there are individuals and organizations that can help you successfully execute your strategy. Leverage these allies that include, but are not limited to, elected officials, commercial real estate brokers, land and business owners, and even regional and state economic development offices. Success in community retail development is a collaborative effort.
  • Local Citizens Sell a City. Often times a community believes that an outside firm or individual can better sell their community than local citizens. Your best sales force is your local officials. They know the community, they have a vested interest and pride in it and last but not least, they can make the commitments necessary to form deals.

Competitive communities understand the power of effective execution and the positive reinforcement it brings to a well-planned strategy.