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The Simple (Not Easy) Strategy For Business Growth

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When we think about business development opportunities, we mostly begin by knowing exactly where we are today and what goals we want to reach next. From there we set out to widen our net and acquire more customers or users for our existing products and services. Our growth strategy starts with the need to expand our customer base in pursuit of the targets we set.

If Steve Jobs had stuck with only this kind growth strategy, the iPhone wouldn’t exist. What he did instead of simply casting the net wider was connect the dots between Apple’s capabilities and where the customer would want to go next—even before the customer knew himself.

Net widening is a fine growth strategy, but it’s also one your competitors are likely adopting—which means whoever gets new customers faster (perhaps by being cheaper) will come out on top. There is an alternative.

We can create long-term value for our companies by understanding where the customer is today and where they want to go next. The path to growth doesn’t always mean having a bigger net. Often it’s about taking the time to consider if a net is the best tool for the job.

Image by Hasin Hayder.

More Vs. Deeper

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

On the surface of it, the all-you-can-eat buffet seems like a generous bargain. Why is it then that we walk away having had our fill without feeling satisfied? The truth is we know that far from being generous the offer of ‘more’ is a tactic to get the most people through the door. We understand the restaurant owner is hoping we come with small appetites and leave early.

Contrast the all-you-can-eat experience with that of the performer who must somehow find a way to deliver value to a stadium of 75,000 fans, most of whom she can’t reach or look in the eye. Singing one more song at the end of her set is unlikely to create the connection she hopes to make with each person. Her only option is to find ways to go deeper.

So she shares intimate stories of her journey from support act to superstar. She acknowledges the unique attributes of the city she’s performing in. She displays unpublished images from her childhood on the big screen. And she makes tiny handwritten love notes that are photocopied and turned into a mid-performance shower of confetti—souvenirs for her fans to keep.

We mistakenly believe that value creation is about delivering more for less when in many cases what delights our customers is more of less.

How can you give more by going deeper?

Image by Jackson Lavarnway.

Shouting To Be Heard

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

If we want our ideas to be embraced, we have two choices.

We can shout to be heard, or we can listen to understand. When we shout, we’re not even sure who is listening. When we understand we know what the listener is ready to hear next.

We all know which strategy has the best chance of succeeding.

Image by Masayuki Takaku.

The Right Words

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

When we have a message to communicate, we obsess over finding the right words. Which copy will convert better? How can we construct the perfect offer that draws people in?

What we lose in our attempt to optimise the words is the ability to create a deeper more lasting connection with the reader, user or customer. We forget that we’re not just in the business of trying to win a sale today, but that we’re aiming to build a relationship that sustains both the people we hope to serve and ourselves.

Yesterday a note arrived in the letterbox from our wonderful local council. They’re resurfacing the road and repairing the pavement on our street next week, and of course, there will be disruptions. The note addressed to owner/occupier, goes straight into the project details, time frame, parking and access. It ends with a warning that vehicles parked will be towed and an apology for any inconvenience caused. What a missed opportunity not simply to inform, but to deepen connections with people in the community.

The whole tone of the message could be flipped on its head by positioning as something to celebrate.

‘We’re delighted to let you know we’re starting work on improving your street next week. No more potholes! Obviously, this will mean some disruption and inconvenience for a few days, but we hope you’ll think it’s worth it when you cycle down the brand spanking new road. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help.’

What we say might get people’s attention, but how we say it changes not only what they think, but how they feel and act. It’s worth considering how you want people to feel after they’ve read or heard your message, not just about what you want them to do next.

Image by Hans Splinter.

More Powerful Than Tactics

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

Marketing tactics change weekly. It’s not hard to get thrown off course by the sense you’re being left behind. What should you devote your energy and resources to next? Which new social media platform is worth investigating and why? Is it worth attending networking events? What will your return on investment be?

The new tools and tactics are easy to learn and automate, what’s harder, scarcer and more valuable is the intention that guides the work we do, the service we deliver, the attitude we adopt and the meaning we hope to create. Value is increasingly created by experiences and interactions that are not easily replicated. The cookie cutter approach to innovation, storytelling and marketing is overrated. The more deliberate we can be about carving out our difference the better.

What’s the difference you want to make?
Why is this important to you?

You need to know this before you write a line of code or a word of copy and before you send that sales email or plan your next marketing campaign.

Image by Danel Solabarrieta.