Strategic Planning: Look at Everything Differently

July 27, 2017

I had a colleague ask me recently, “So what’s the biggest difference between working with clients today and when you first entered the agency business?”

I had to ponder that one for a while, but simply put, clients back then would call and say, “We want to run an ad.”  Today they call and say, “Help us grow our business.”

Back then it was all about the creative. “Help us stand out and get noticed.” Today it’s about so much more—the brand, the competitive set, digital technologies, dealer support, new product launches, analytics, lead generation, customer segmentation—so much more than the ad.

More recently, I hear comments like these from either current clients or new client prospects:

“We have a new CEO who wants to change things up. He wants to take a hard look at all aspects of our business and develop a new direction for us.”

“There is a disconnect between our sales and marketing teams; if we can get that fixed we can really make a difference.”

“We have our eye on the right goals. We just can’t seem to get organized to make it happen.”

“Our target customer is changing, and we need to change with them.”

“We need to rethink our position in the industry and develop a plan of attack.”

These marketing professionals are looking to us for more than an ad. They are seeking a well-thought strategic plan to take their organizations to the next level.

Based on this new reality, Paulsen has decided to make strategic planning one of our core competencies and service offerings. This is not something we are taking lightly or to which we are just giving lip service. We see the need and the opportunity to assist virtually any agribusiness or ag association in developing a viable strategic plan via a well-defined process and deeply experienced marketing professionals.

Paulsen and Mike Gustafson, founder of Tygus Partners, have teamed up to provide strategic planning for organizations seeking to discover where they need to go and how they’re going to get there. Mike brings a very impressive track record to the table that includes international marketing with IBM, years of hands-on consulting with Ernst and Young, a director with Panera Bread and ag consulting with WaterStreet Solutions. And better yet, he comes from a crop and livestock operation in northeast Nebraska. In other words, he gets it.

Mike has the unique ability to peel back the onion to get to the real essence and raw truth of a situation or organization.

As he puts it, a client must be willing to look at everything differently in order to develop an effective strategic plan that creates genuine change and a new direction for the organization. Along with that is the requirement for personal commitment from all stakeholders to embrace and embody the changes needed to make an important difference.

Personally, I can’t tell you how excited I am about this offering from our agency.  From the many conversations I’ve had both with current and prospective clients, professional strategic planning is exactly what’s needed to survive and thrive in today’s hyper-competitive business environment.

There seems to be common themes in these conversations—what they’re doing isn’t working like it once did, competitive forces are eroding sales, market share and profitability, and a new approach is needed to differentiate themselves in their respective industries.

In other words, they need to look at everything differently.

If you would like to learn how a well-crafted strategic plan can make a world of difference for your organization, please contact me at

I would enjoy introducing you to our partner, Mike Gustafson, and sharing more about the process we employ to bring clarity and new direction to your agribusiness.

I think you will be amazed with the possibilities and opportunities available to you when you look at everything differently.


Mark Smither

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