Strategy in Action

You are confronting a changing world. Globalization. Regulation. Technology advancements. Market shifts. Evolving customer expectations. Talent shortages. This list could go on for pages.

The real challenge is deciding how to confront the changes your organization faces, and turn them to your advantage.

We’ll help you craft a strategy (business, product, marketing or otherwise) that: addresses your current reality, is understood by your team and can be implemented by your team.  You’ll discover what to pay attention to, what to act on, and what to let go of, at least for now.

Crafting a Strategy

Too often, strategies are designed to appease everyone and leave room for interpretation. We believe it stems from fear or inability to have the tough conversations (and conflict) to get to clarity or from a strategic planning framework that forces broader answers.

To avoid being too broad, we start strategy engagements by asking a combination of the five questions below. (The combination depends on what kind of strategy you’re looking for.  A business strategy would include all five, whereas a marketing or product strategy would include the first four.)  On the surface, these questions will seem simple and easy to answer, but when you start to address them, we suspect you’ll find the answers to be more challenging than you originally thought.

Who do you serve?

By this we mean, who specifically is your target customer? Not the array of customers you serve – or broad segment descriptions.  Get personal!  Put down more than the demographics.  Consider attitudes and psychographics.

What problem do you solve?

What you solve is more important than what you sell. As business people – usually in love with our product or service – we are conditioned to brag about what we sell.  Customers, whether they’re other businesses or individual consumers, go in search of goods and services when they have a problem they need solved. Can you clearly state in your customers’ language what triggers them to come to you?

What position do you want to occupy in the marketplace?

Is your business one of many in the same marketplace and you’re just duking it out for share?  Maybe you see your company as the low-cost alternative, capturing a segment of a defined market that wants a no-frills product or service, allowing you to win on volume and/or operational efficiency. Or, do you want to own the “product leader” peak in the marketplace?  However you answer, make sure that your responses describe something of value that your target customer will pay for – something that is compelling enough to choose you over alternatives.

What makes you unique?

Do you have capabilities or intellectual property that makes you unique? Do you have organizational competencies that will set you apart? It could be your location, your company history, or your ability to create zealot customers who advocate for your products and services.  What is it that is truly unique for you? The answer to this question is fraught with bias, so be really tough on yourself and be robust in testing your assumption. Too often, especially in service businesses, leaders default to “people, it’s our people that make us unique.”  That could be true, but if it is – why is it true? Your answer should be the things that make you unique to solve the need you stated above better than anyone else, for the target customer you’ve chosen to serve.

How do you make money?

What?  We asked you how you make money?  We don’t mean by the piece, pound, hour, or other unit of measure.  That’s how you get paid.  We mean the underlying drivers of value that result in per piece, hour, or unit payments.  If you are clear about the first four questions, the answer to this one will help drive the implementation planning. Maybe you design products and manage the distribution of them but they are manufactured by others. You make money on your design skills and your channel expertise.  Maybe you do custom work and you make money on your tailoring abilities.  Maybe you are super-efficient and the way you make money is driving costs to the lowest possible point. As you answer – think about what your customers value.  Are you providing the product and customer experience elements that will drive your growth? Are you providing ONLY the product and customer experience elements that your customers will pay for, therefore driving your profitability?