Designing Strategies: The Blog
Some time ago, I read a posting in the Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers) blog that really impressed me. It impressed me enough to bookmark it in my laptop to review from time to time. The post was written by Liz Strauss, a well-known business strategist. Liz related the story of a businessman who owned businesses in the fields of newspapers, magazines and books. She was hired to develop strategy to turn the book business around and refocus it on success.
Several months into her assignment, one of those great ‘Ah-ha!’ moments occured. She reminded the owner that while his three businesses are similar, they are clearly not exactly the same and needed different approaches in strategy to be successful. What makes one company successful will not necessarily work for other businesses, regardless of any similarities. Any differences, minor or enormous, need to be addressed.
It was simply a matter of her pointing out that the life spans for each of the three media formats are quite different. Newspapers, magazines and books have very different life spans. Once she pointed out this basic element, the distinct differences became very clear. At that same moment, Liz realized the owner really didn’t understand what business he was in.
Too often, small business owners are so engrossed in their ‘forest’ that they are unable to see their ‘trees’. They are wrapped up in day to day business operations, trying to keep all the necessary balls in the air and putting out fires along the way. In the midst of all this, they fail to do timely reality checks to assure they remain focused, on track and doing everything necessary to move forward toward profitability and successfully. Knowing what business you are in and how you plan to strategically manage and market it should be at the very top of your list of reality checks.
Block off some time in your schedule right now to review the basics of your business. Put your organization under a microscope, then take another look from about 35,000 feet. What business you are really in? What products and services do you really provide for your customers? Review your vision and mission. Are you on track to achieve them? Step back and take a good look at your company culture. Does it match the needs of your business, your customers, your vision and mission? Without these reality checks from time to time, your business can go into a major tailspin in the blink of an eye. Keep your focus on the business you are really in and the customers you really serve.
What ‘Ah-ha’ moments have you had about your company that put you back on track and focused on success? Please share those moments below…
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One of the best ways to successfully market yourself, your product or your company is to tell your target audience a story. Admit it, as a child, your fondest memories are of being curled up on Mom or Dad’s, or Grandma’s lap while they read you stories. As they say, those were the best of times. Times of closeness and relaxation. The older you got, the more adventure those books contained. As they read your favorite story – or a brand new story – the inflection of their voices made your mind go in new, exciting directions as your imagination took you to faraway places you had never been before.
Nothing gets a prospect’s attention faster than listening to a story. Stories are far easier to absorb than a bullet list of product features or company experiences. Stories grab readers and drag them in, gaining their interest and holding their attention. Isn’t that exactly what you want to do in your marketing? Tell people something they want to hear, how they want to hear it? Take away the boring angle found in so much of today’s marketing. Make readers resist the urge to ‘delete’ or just move on to something more interesting.
One of the best examples of how this works in reality is the DirectTV ads running on television the past couple of months. To convince customers they shouldn’t make the mistake of subscribing to cable TV instead of DirectTV, they have created and aired a series of ‘what will happen if you do…’ commercials. Each one ends with the premise of ‘don’t let this happen to you.’ “Don’t have a grandson with a dog collar….”, “Don’t be left in a roadside ditch…”, “Don’t have to sell your hair to a wig shop…” Each is funnier than the last one, but you can’t stop watching them and following their logical path from making the wrong choice to what will happen if you do. They may be a bit bizarre, but step-by-step, viewers are drawn into the logic that it could happen… maybe.
What stories can you tell about yourself and your company? How about the one about struggling for years and then that one perfect client came along and opened new doors to you? Or, how the one about how you finally found your niche, miles from where you started… accidentally? You can make the stories as creative as you care to get…. how many people do you know who ordered cable TV and ended up with a grandson wearing a dog collar? Hey, it could happen.