It’s a tough question to answer, I know, but it’s one that needs to be answered more and more regardless of the type of business you’re running. Once reserved for the Coke’s, McDonald’s or Apple’s of the world, today any organization of any size needs to have an extremely well developed Corporate Strategy if it hopes to stay in business during today’s incredibly multi-sliced marketplace.
In order to build a foundation for your organization and its brand there are four knowledge areas you should consider focusing on.
Know what you are really selling. One of the toughest things senior leaders often have to face is their product no longer cuts through in the market. Pointing to past years’ successes are great for benchmarking, but not enough to produce valid projections for the future. It’s just difficult to say goodbye to products! But in a very real sense, selling involves knowing what market you are in and deciding what products are going to keep you growing in it. Are you in the business of always coming up with new products or the replacement business that provides an adequate solution to those who are looking for alternatives to the leading brand? Knowing this can easily spell the difference between success or failure.
Know your target market. The more specific you can be about the market you serve, and those you don’t serve, the better. This allows you to focus your brand messaging based on micro messaging and eliminate as many unqualified prospects as possible. As one CEO client of ours recently shared with me, if I have to first educate a potential customer and then sell him on our services that’s one too many sales we’re making. Instead, target prospects that are already educated in what you have to sell and go after them with a clear and compelling strategy.
Know the true benefits to your customers. This seems obvious and yet how many sales pitches have you sat through that had nothing to do with what you were truly interested in? It’s really quite frustrating when I find someone trying to sell me something that I myself already offer! How could this happen? Simple. They didn’t bother researching what we provided before they made their pitch. Know the benefits you can offer your customer that they will truly appreciate.
Know your target customers. The best way to find out about your target customers is to spend time with them. We used to call this field research. People don’t like to do this anymore because it’s too time intensive, etc. But the fact is the more you know about them and the more they know about you the more likely they are to buy from you. So spend the time to get to know them. In the long run, this strategy will pay enormous dividends that an “In and Out Strategy” never will.
These four foundations to your business work best if you can apply them in a concerted market or discipline. Trying to be all things to all markets is very difficult, even for very large companies. Today, specialization trumps diversification nearly every time and that creates a strategy that will produce solid results for years to come.