What bothers you as you’re trying to go to sleep (work-related, of course)? What are you still thinking about on your evening commute home?
- How are we going to reach our revenue goal for the year?
- How can we succeed in a commoditized market?
- Is our pricing appropriate?
- How can we better engage customers in social media?
- Where do we start with rebranding?
- How can we retain the customers we’re losing?
- What can I do to ensure the success of a new product launch?
- What’s the secret to beating our competition?
- How can I improve the image of our brand?
Wow, that’s a lot. No wonder you can’t sleep. (Good thing there’s coffee.)
Stress. It can be hard to keep track of all the moving parts because markets are competitive and customer needs are always changing. The competitive strategies they taught us in business school don’t seem feasible to apply in the real world.
No matter our industry, size of our organization, type of business we’re in - we all have business challenges. A hurdle to overcome. You need to increase revenue, or decrease debt, or increase market share. Whatever it is, it may sometimes seem insurmountable.
But if you dig into this challenge, you realize that there are lots of smaller challenges impacting this larger goal. They directly or indirectly impact the larger challenge.
For example, you may need to know how to prioritize product lines or figure out how to market each more effectively. You may need to understand how to attract new millennial customers. You get the idea – these are more focused challenges. If you succeeded at one of these, you would impact the larger goal.
While it would be nice and simple, you just can’t tackle all of your offerings, customers, and competitors with a single strategy. To be successful, you have to narrow your focus - select to focus on a single offering, customer segment, and targeted group of competitors.
We call this a “growth case.�? It’s focused around a specific customer choice that impacts your growth. A certain type of customer choosing between you and a couple other comparable offerings.
In a sense, this is freeing – when you get down to this level, it’s easy to see the path forward. At this level, translating customer insights to tactical strategies that result in growth is straightforward.
An example of this is a mid-size manufacturing client that was experiencing declining sales and feeling the pressure to cut their costs. While multiple product lines impact their total sales, they decided to target their most profitable line first. Their growth case looked at prospective customers in the market for this product, comparing their offering to several major competitors.
They learned that these customers had unique needs. They wanted the installation hardware to be included in the purchase price (an unmet need). Customers also wanted easier navigation of their website to find and order products. And, perhaps most importantly, they learned that price wasn’t even one of the top five factors impacting the customers’ purchase decision.
Armed with these actionable insights, this organization was able to immediately develop a tactical strategic plan to improve how this product line was differentiated in the market. With similar initiatives going on for their other product lines, overall sales are bound to improve (to be continued!).
So, dissect your larger goal into smaller growth cases, lay those all out on the table, and dig into each. Maybe start with the one that represents the most potential growth or the most risk – or maybe the one that’s just the most interesting to you.
At the core of each of these is a customer making a decision that you need to understand better. What attributes are important to them when making this choice? How do they think you do? What about your competition?
When you understand how purchase decisions are made, you can influence them.
And, when you have actionable insights like this, you’ll sleep better. Win, win.