"Give me the freedom of a tightly defined strategy.�? - Norman Berry, former Creative Head at Ogilvy and Mather
I heard this back in my advertising days, but it has stayed with me and become even more relevant in my technology career.
When I was at Visio, our business drawing platform defined a new category because it fulfilled an unmet business need. With a very tight strategy, we took one platform with many applications and extended it worldwide.
I’ve been reminded of this at Vennli. When insights emerge from a Vennli growth case, opportunities to build competitive difference are revealed and leaders experience the "freedom to amplify" a focused strategy.
Most business growth is incremental - small improvements made over time. Two steps forward, one step back - often by trial and error.
If you want to be a market leader, this won’t cut it. It’s no longer true that “slow and steady wins the race.�? Today’s winners identify a path for growth and act quickly to capitalize on it… and they do this over and over. They are differentiated by their ability to develop and adapt a successful growth strategy.
This requires clarity and focus that only comes from having actionable data that reduces your risk and provides the confidence to act quickly. That’s the recipe for success.
As a career marketing executive and experienced Board member who has lead his share of strategic planning meetings, I’ve witnessed many times how the light bulbs start to go off like paparazzi when the path forward suddenly becomes clear. This magical moment often just seems to happen – unplanned and when the stars align.
But at Vennli, I’ve learned the secret to producing this magical moment repeatedly. It doesn’t involve a magic wand or astrology. It involves developing a deep understanding about how customers make choices in the context of your competition.
Once you know the drivers of customer choice, you know exactly where to focus your efforts. This is freeing. You can make strategic decisions with confidence because you know your strategy will win more customer choices. The path is clear and your creativity can be unleashed.
You have the freedom to amplify the value you bring to customers and, subsequently, your business growth.
Recently, I participated in a brainstorming session with a client. They learned that the biggest drivers of their customers’ choice was a personal connection to their mission and the convenience of the donation process. In a sea of competing priorities and initiatives, they realized they only needed to focus on those two things to increase donations.
Just think about that for a second. What if you knew going into your strategic planning session that you only needed to focus on two things in order to achieve your growth goals? Wouldn’t the conversation go a lot differently?
Not only did this show them where to focus their efforts, but it also showed them where to STOP focusing efforts on initiatives that are less important to donor choice. This freed up some of their limited resources (time AND money) to work on programs that will reap better rewards.
You can think about your own business this way. First, think about a customer choice that impacts your ability to grow. What are the factors or attributes that impact their choice? (Features, benefits, brand characteristics, service, etc.)
Customers are comparing you vs. your competition on factors important to their choice. We visualize your market from the customer’s point-of-view by placing choice factors in three circles:
Think about the strategic implications of each colored zone in order to reveal opportunities for growth:
- Green Zone: What can you do to build and defend this area? Develop strategies to move choice factors into this area.
- Yellow Zone: These are opportunities for innovation and improvement. How can you capitalize on these to fulfill customer unmet needs?
- Gray Zone: These are points-of-parity or table stakes. These factors represent an opportunity to differentiate from competitors.
- Orange Zone: What can you do to neutralize a competitor’s advantage?
- Purple and Blue Zones: Are there things that you are spending resources on that customers don’t care as much about? Can you divest these investments and redirect these resources to obtain higher ROI?
When you focus on how customers make choices, you give yourself the freedom to focus on the most important drivers of choice and forget the rest, thereby amplifying your growth.