Businesses are complex. On the surface, developing a strategy can seem simple, but when you start to dig into the various aspects of a business and the multitude of moving parts starts to emerge, it can become overwhelming. Clearly, a single strategy can’t impact every component, so the game becomes one of prioritization.
I recently had a client ask me: “Anna, are we bad clients? Are we really bad at this?�? As a Customer Success Manager who helps clients think strategically about their business, I really sympathized with the sentiment.
"You’re doing great,�? I said. “You’re on the right track. You’re experiencing a common pain point of business leaders. Thinking about competitive growth strategy is hard.�?
This is the truth. Thinking about your business in terms of competitive growth is hard. You have to simultaneously juggle your offering, your competitors, and your customers to derive an integrated strategy that will attack all fronts. This is not for the faint of heart and exactly why Vennli exists.
Perhaps unexpectedly, things can get especially difficult when trying to figure out whom your competition is. Competitors come in different shapes, forms, and sizes. Sometimes it’s straight forward – it’s a comparable product or service in the market that directly competes with you. For example, if you are Apple, your iPhone competes directly with Samsung’s Galaxy. Or if you’re a management consulting company, you might compete directly against Deloitte and Accenture’s management consulting services.
Other times, you could be competing against a behavior - like doing nothing at all. What do I mean by that? Well, take for example the scenario of a wellness center trying to grow weight loss counseling clients. It’s likely that customers are either going to choose your services, choose another weight loss tactic available to them, or, most importantly, just not change their behavior at all. Therefore, the goal becomes one of understanding how you can influence the potential customer to choose to engage in weight loss counseling over continuing with their status quo. The strongest competitor in this case is “not doing anything differently.�?
Another possibility is that you could be competing against an indirect competitor - something that competes for the customer’s priority or time. For example, if you’re a local parish, to attract more parishioners, you’re likely not competing against other types of churches. Instead, you’re up against competing priorities for parishioners’ time and focus.
Depending on your growth challenge, you could identify direct competitors, indirect competitors, AND competing behaviors that could impact your ability to win the customer’s choice. Like a juggler without the right rhythm, coordination, and tempo, it’s easy to drop the ball when there’s different dimensions of competitors to think about.
So, how do I help my customers manage all the dimensions involved in competitive growth in a way that will help them get actionable insights and be able to move forward?
Here’s the secret: I help them to focus on one customer choice at a time.
By focusing on customer choice, we come down to a level where we can talk about all three components (customer, competitor, offering) at the same level. This focus provides clarity on next steps and ultimately results in actionable data that can be used in growth strategy development.
So, when you’re having a hard time trying design competitive growth strategy because of the complexity of your customers, your competitors, and your offerings, remember to focus on your customer’s choice. By starting there, you’ll be able to navigate a clear path forward.