In Part One you discovered the importance that strategy plays in the development and growth of a business.
Perhaps the focus on understand your customer’s needs and the reasons why they buy from you was a change in thinking? It was for my clients. However, it is fundamentally important for you to understand the positioning of your business in the market, from a buyer’s perspective. This may be different from an industry or internal perspective.
When we left part one, you had segmented your market based on the decision-maker’s needs. This is completely different than following standard demographics. You should have listed the goods that these customers buy, who buys the goods and why they are purchased. You will find you have different lists relating to the different customer needs. The work isn’t done yet…
1) Establish How Competitive You Are
This is relative to each list and should be measured against your competition. Some businesses are stronger at delivering specific products/services to a designated customer. You should know and recognise this, understanding where your business currently fits in this industry, and be able to look carefully at your closest competitors and understand their strengths and weaknesses.
As you are now looking at your market in a new way and analysing your competitors too, I recommend you carry out a full SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on your business, thinking carefully about your customer’s needs and how you meet or exceed them. I find SWOT analysis opens the door in terms of strategic thinking and highlights some of the key areas requiring attention in your business.
2) Select The Market Segments With The Greatest Opportunity
Now that you have segmented your list, you need to begin thinking about each segment and weighing up the opportunity. How do you do this? You can have a simple weighting system when you score out of 10 for each element. The elements for consideration may be size, profit potential, growth potential, investment required to name a few.
If you find a segment with excellent growth and profit potential, and you consider that your business is capable of meeting the needs of this market, then this could merit further investigation. You need to weigh up the investment requirement and potential returns. It’s also important to question whether your current positioning in the market will be impacted in a positive or negative way by trading in this segment.
3) Create A Strategic Action Plan
Hopefully, you can see the key market segments you should and are trading in. Now the task is to transform this data into action and later into profits. The first stage is to recognise that you need a sniper approach to target one of the segments. This could be new to your business or you may have identified that there are further opportunities in the market segment you already serve.
Now that you have identified the segment to target, what is the goal? Hopefully, one of your goals is to be recognised as the best in that particular segment… it should be. The best can be the best after-sales service, the best knowledge, the fastest provider etc. Make it specific. This message resonates and travels faster in the market.
Now that you’ve found the what, where, why aspects of your strategy, you must now work on the how and who.
- How are you going to achieve this goal(s)
- Who is going to be responsible for which specific actions?
This takes careful planning.
As your team work behind the scenes to deliver this product/service, your focus moves into marketing. Before we discuss this further it’s important to make the point that I assume your team have understood and been involved in the strategic process and are in full agreement that this is the right move for the business. Otherwise, I recommend you take the time to present this to them and help them draw the same conclusions your management team did and that this is good for the business.
Your marketing should reflect all that you learned from this strategic planning. Whether you use in-house or outsource your marketing, the key to the success will fall on the quality of the campaign. Having understood customers buy for their reasons to meet their needs, the marketing campaign should reflect this. Being clever and missing the point is not going to help you. However, time after time I see obscure headlines that are so far off target it’s a joke. This happens a lot with marketing agencies. Be very specific about your expectations. Test the concepts with your team and a few existing customers. If the campaign doesn’t move them, why will it move others in the market?
Once your plan is underway, monitor the actions carefully to ensure deadlines are respected. There’s nothing worse than a false start. If your marketing campaign goes live and your team are not fully operational with the delivery, then this will reflect badly well on the business. It is easy to bruise a business’ reputation and can happen overnight. Building a good reputation takes a lot longer, so get it right the first time.
By opening one new door, your business is changing the landscape in the industry. Perhaps customer perception changes and sees more value from you. Perhaps, this one change opens the door to other possibilities you had not envisioned? If so, undertake the exercise again and follow the procedures. You never know when one door will lead to another, which in turn transforms your business.
Good strategic thinking, understanding and action is lacking these days. And yet, when a business calls upon it’s talented workforce and management team, perhaps lead by a consultant, amazing things happen. I hope you take a more strategic path in the future and see the results through reporting superior profits and a happier workforce too.
Good luck!3 Foundational Marketing Steps For Growing Your Business Part Two Click To Tweet