Tag Archives: Business strategy

Paralysis by analysis

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Over the years I have preached (sorry) about how important it is to measure success. All plans need measurable goals or how will you know if the are working. There are lots of tools available to help measure how your communication/marketing strategy is working online, or even in the traditional media world.

And there is always the opportunity to actually talk to customers to get their feedback.

It’s important to analyze the data to know what’s working and whether you are spending to achieve the best results. It can also help identify opportunities that may not have been part of your original plan.

analysis-paralysis

It takes time to wade through the analysis, particularly with the array of tools available.

Adjustments mid-course can be risky and it’s unlikely you are ready to quickly pull the plug on a plan that just a few months ago was the future of your company. But doing nothing is not an option. You’ll probably overthink it, and come up with several reasons why now isn’t good time to tinker. You will rationalize that you have plausible reasons, and not just excuses.

Push past the paralysis of fear and take a leap of faith, and even if you fail, you’ll farther ahead than if you did nothing.

Measuring your business activity is important. Analyzing the results equally so. Make sure you act on them.

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Filed under Communications, Marketing, Strategic Planning

The parking lot was full, but they missed this Target

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

The much ballyhooed opening of the latest American entry into the Canadian retail marketing space has arrived.  As a fairly loyal Zellers shopper I was extremely interested to see what had replaced them in the local malls. I have seen Target in the U.S. and I thought they may have a  chance to give Walmart a run for the loonie here.

It was only a week or so ago, their spin doctors announced to the Canadian public that their prices were not going to be as good as they were in the U.S.  For me that struck a chord, as it may have with other Canadian consumers who are tired of seeing U.S prices much lower on a large number of products despite our dollar being at close to par. Despite all this, I did venture in with an open mind.  There was not a parking spot to be found, so the interest factor was certainly at a fever pitch.

As I walked towards the doors, I noticed there were a large number of people leaving with no bags in their hands.  An even worse omen was the guy who said in a loud voice as he was leaving and I and others were entering, “Don’t waste your time”. Inside, the store looks bright and spacious as it should since it is 2 days old. There was a wide selection of products, a nice pharmacy section, a big wall of TVs at the back and well identified aisles. There were also yellow tags with the words “Temporary Discount” to identify the specials.

What was also noticeable was that the prices were higher than Walmart, and the old Zellers stores. So noticeable, in fact,  that shoppers were vocalizing it at every turn. I wonder (and it is just my thoughts) if a mid-range department store in this market will be fantastically successful? Does this represent an opportunity for the likes of Sears to alter their tactics to compete more directly with the newcomer? Is this a well thought out tactic by Target to allow them to become more discount oriented in the future if this mid-range plan falters? Either way, the next year will be interesting to see how the Canadian consumer reacts.

As for me, I too left the store empty-handed  (which for me is highly unusual). My wife commented that this could be a blessing in disguise if I leave empty-handed! The pre-marketing was good, the Target Loves Canada symbols were a little over the top, the parking lot was full, the store was busy, the buzz has been loud, but in my case, they missed the target.

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Filed under Branding, Jeff Bowman, Marketing

Survive, Revive and Thrive in 2013

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

It certainly has been a long haul over the past few years what with the economy shrinking, large companies announcing layoffs and consumers becoming far more educated and selective about who and what they chose to ‘invest” (formerly called spend) their money on. There are many factors that will affect performance this year, including leadership skills, training, ability to quickly adapt to an ever changing market and the culture that exists within the walls of your organization. With that in mind, here are 5 things you need to do address to survive, revive and thrive in 2013.

Strategize – you need to provide superior value to your client base, demonstrate differentiation in your products and services, and be one step ahead of the competition for success in 2013. What is your strategy for moving forward in your market and possibly beyond into new or emerging marketplaces?  Strategy is the route you will take, the tools you will employ and knowing the obstacles that lay ahead and having a plan to overcome them. By demonstrating sustainable competitive advantages over your competitors and any newcomers lining up to eat your market share, you will be creating the success model on which to build as the economy grows.

Diversify your social media tactics – that is assuming you are utilizing any tactics now. What is critical to the delivery of any message you need to send is the diversify ability and willingness of your target to receive and understand it. The mediums for delivery have changed, viral can mean success, Facebook allows you generate followers, Pinterest is rapidly gaining a legion of users and your web tactics must take mobile applications into consideration.

Reward your employees – one truth about recovering markets is that companies begin to take back what they let go years before.  Opportunities for your employees to move elsewhere become more abundant. Will an employee that you had penciled in on the succession plan bolt for greener pastures?  They will if they have been overworked, under trained, under appreciated or underutilized in your organization.

Understand your Brand – review your brand. Is it still relevant, does it send the right message, has it stagnated? Look for ways to re-invigorate the brand. Lift its spirits, polish it up, put it on a pedestal and most importantly love it! When consumers feel the love that the company has for its own brand, it becomes contagious.

Sell to a need – I have said it a thousand times, consumers don’t want to be sold something they don’t want, in a way they don’t like by a company they don’t know. What basic need does your product or service address?  Have you determined if the prospect has this need either open or hidden?  Is it really a need or simply and opportunity? If you try to sell an opportunity you will often be rejected.

This year holds a great deal of promise to those organizations that plan now to capitalize on observed weaknesses in the market and their competitors.  Follow the five simple tips above and thrive this year!

Jeff Bowman is the “Attitude” in The Marketing Pad.  For a free consultation to determine how we can build success for you contact jeff@themarketingpad.com

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Filed under Branding, Communications, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, Sales, social media, Strategic Planning

Measure twice and cut once

By Stephen Rhodes

Measure twice and cut once. My Dad use to say that. And while his advice often came right after some woodworking blunder, we can all appreciate it for its common sense. It’s sound advice for a small business launch too.

sawing-woodLots of businesses are launched in a flurry to capitalize on some seemingly instant opportunity. Few of these are around for the duration.

A good business strategy is well thought out.

So what do we need to measure?

Start with a simple SWOT exercise. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. What opportunities exist in the marketplace and what are the threats to success?

And then do the same analysis of your competition. Unless you have a completely unique product or service, it’s likely someone already owns the business you plan to take away. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses is important if you hope to position your company as something better.

Are the opportunities real? Opening a real estate business in the boom year of 1989 might have seemed like a good idea. By the spring of 1990, it wasn’t so attractive. Timing is important. Timing is everything, especially so today.

How competitive is the marketplace and how can you differentiate your business from the others? It’s so important that you stake out your turf succeed. Be the best at something.

What threat exists for your fledgling business once it is launched? What reaction will there be from your competitors? Realize that your competitors are likely to react to your entry into the marketplace and consider what they might do – lower prices for example – and how you might respond. If you are entering a mature marketplace, your competitor(s) has been around for a while and you are not likely the first to pose a threat. The response will be swift and aggressive.

There are many examples of giant killers in the marketplace, people who have successfully taken business away from a market leader. I would venture none did it without careful analysis.

Most of us wouldn’t make a major purchase without looking at all the options. Starting a business is a major investment. All the options need to be weighed and carefully analyzed.

You want your business to have a focus, a point of differentiation. You need to know your strengths and weakness and those of your competitor. Make sure the opportunity is real. Consider, what are the threats to success?

Measure. And then measure again.

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Filed under Stephen Rhodes, Strategic Planning