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Your management strategy is really a marketing strategy. The method your product or service is delivered to the customer is a crucial part of your marketing plan but in reality the “how” you go about delivering value is constructed in your management strategy.
Your operations manual includes the processes, activities and behavioral guidelines that makes your company run. The content of the operations manual should only consist of fine-tuned and up-to-date information. After processes and systems have been tested and tweaked to determine efficiency they are boiled down to checklists and documented in your manual as “how we do things here”. How these systems are implemented is your management strategy…or is it marketing strategy?
Defining roles and responsibilities and organizational structure is part of management strategy. (more specifically under “organizational strategy” but it still falls under management strategy)
Putting the right people in the right roles is management strategy.
Establishing the employee code of conduct, determining dress code, empowering customer service and sales staff with top-notch training and giving them the best tools to succeed is all part of your management strategy, but…
in all actuality, this is the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. After all if one of the “4 P’s of marketing” is “product” and the customer experience is based on the systems established by the management strategy then isn’t your management strategy really just part of your marketing strategy? Management strategy is intended to produce a Marketing result. You want happy, empowered and well-equipped employees delivering your brand message. A company’s culture and brand perception is delivered by its employees, working within the constructs of the system developed in the management strategy. Hence Management Strategy is essentially part of the marketing strategy.
The reason for the writing of this post and the hyper-focus on this seemingly insignificant detail of strategy classification is due to this trend I’m spotting concerning people’s opinion on the scope of marketing in relation to the management and overall company strategy. In this internet age “marketing experts” are making “marketing strategy” synonymous with “online strategy”. And management experts/consultants try to segment everything to make it fit into a nice little easy to understand frame-work even at the risk of inaccurately portraying the true flow, and the underlying cause & effect relationships that make a business engine run.
Determining and understanding those things that contribute to the success of your business is vitally important. Knowledge is power. The deeper your understanding of what specific things, why those specific things, and how those specific things are connected the better prepared you will be to make wise decisions concerning your company’s future.
I’m a strong advocate of finding your niche in life. I think it would benefit people to hold off on pursuing certain ventures that don’t fit in with their core competencies. I do realize that it isn’t always possible to wait around, especially in our current economic state, for the perfect opportunity. But it’s important to find what your God-given unique strengths are and find a way to leverage them.
Sometimes life gets crazy and when times get tough the tendency we have is to rush into something quick to fill our time and grab the quickest dollar. Having the clarity of mind to see the longterm outlook rather than the pending current circumstances is crucial to fulfilling your destiny! Turning down jobs, projects, and business ventures is a key part to the longevity of business success because each dodged bullet puts you that much closer to your optimal situation. Tying up time and resources on unfruitful ventures is the definition of counter-productive.
Instead of jumping on the next idea/venture take a moment to determine if it is in line with your long term goals. The best decision you can make sometimes is closing door 1 to open door 2. Sometimes you have to pass on good opportunities to be able to pursue great ones! Remember don’t get tempted with good when great is around the corner!
Of the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, place, promotion, the most under utilized in terms of potential and the most forgotten is the Product. So many books are written about every form of marketing under the sun, but hardly any of them address the actual product itself. The one book I have found to be extremely useful and pretty revolutionary in its simplicity is, Baked-In by Alex Bogusky & John Winsor.
This books addresses the one P no one talks about. The actual product/service being delivered! This is what all the additional marketing efforts go towards after the product is completed. But if companies focus on the communication of the brand starting from the product out, they can bake the marketing right in. Not too long ago companies could create safe, non-innovative products and combine that with mass marketing to gain the returns they desired. Today it’s a necessity to build innovative products and brands that build the marketing into the product from the start.
The same creativity that marketers and consultants put towards changing culture, social media strategies, advertising/pr, and even packaging can be applied to the product itself. This is why including consumers from the start is so important. The co-creation that occurs with these consumers helps to establish the marketing message and gives the brand a unified voice. With the rich feedback provided from the target market the product can truly gain some steam and momentum.
The product should be the most powerful marketing tool. If communicated from the product’s core the marketing message should coincide seamlessly with the intended benefits for its consumers. The failure with many products can be attributed to the marketing. The product is created, then the marketing and promotional efforts are built around it, often times communicating a different message to the consumers.
There are many ways to bake your marketing in, it just takes time identifying what makes your brand and story unique. The product can tie company history or even personal history into the product’s story. But to have a product that truly markets itself the cultural and consumer research must be done during creation!
Focus your efforts on building a product with the marketing baked in; marketing that communicates exactly what the product is intended to do and for whom. Remember your product is what people are actually buying!
Business building should take place every day, in some way, in every business. I don’t care how small or large a company is, every day should have some amount of time set aside to work on the systems that make it run. Many small business owners find themselves being the technician, manager and owner all wrapped into one. But it is imperative that the business creator, the entrepreneur, takes his time each day to work on his creation, not in it.
All businesses delivering either a product or service, or some combination of both, need people working in it to keep it rolling along. But even more important is the time spent working on the business. This is how you come up with better and more efficient ways of doing things. By taking time daily to inspect your business you are ensuring that there will be profits in the future!
All systems need to be constantly analyzed and tested to make sure you are cranking out optimal results. It is hard to keep your eyes on the prize when the constant-technician-monotony kicks in, but you must push through. A technician’s work is never done, but without the business building of the entrepreneur there would be no work for the technician.
Weather you are an account executive or an owner/operator of a small business, take time each day to work on some aspect of business. Sometimes it may actually take changing clothes, grabbing your computer and heading to a coffee shop or library to get yourself in the mood. This is what I do sometimes to get me thinking like an entrepreneur and not just a small business owner.
Set aside time to brainstorm marketing tactics. Set attainable goals for when you plan on implementing these new ideas and follow through. It is these little daily steps that lead to a steady flow of business. The few minutes a day spent on marketing will be the most important for the longevity of your biz.
Strategize daily. Set goals. Execute.
The thousand mile journey starts with ONE step!
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is currently my favorite subject to dive into and study. This is the core system in any business that needs to be cranking on all cylinders, but sadly enough it usually isn’t even thought about.
The essence of why we do business goes beyond finding a need and filling it, for a profit, it’s about establishing relationships built on trust. The more someone trusts you and what you are about the more willing they will be to do business with you. Also, the trust-based relationships with your clients will lead to referrals. Any businessman/marketer worth his salt knows that the key to growing any company is REFERRALS.
But before you establish a relationship and before you instill even a remote amount of trust with your potential client there must be a system in place to help foster the relationship. This is where my new favorite study comes in, CRM! How you acquire and catalogue relationships and what types of touch-points and how often you reach out make up the structure of your CRM program.
Established relationships with every client need to be fostered to their fullest extent. It goes deeper than just wanting them to referer their friends or colleagues, it’s about having a brand that truly connects on a one-to-one level. That is the point, you want to reach out to your current and past customers one-on-one. A personal touch-point that addresses them on a their level.
The way our society and especially technology is headed we may never end up truly communicating with people because everyone is so distracted by so many messages. The influx of information we all receive on a daily basis is becoming overwhelming. But in spite of all this, true entrepreneurs and marketers must not lose connection with their clients. We must find a way to fight through the overcrowded mediums of communication and make personal connections. It is not something we should do, or something that sounds like a good idea, it is imperative if we are to run viable businesses!
The issue of overcrowded media outlets transitions perfectly into my last concern. In CRM systems like just about everything else in life, You get out what you put in!. There are a million and one online CRM systems that help you organize, strategize and implement a plethora of different things in regards to customer data. They are terrific, don’t get me wrong, I use a couple of programs myself and I love them with a passion, but none of them are a one stop shop to deep/meaningful customer relationships!
It is all about how active you are in making personal connections with each of your clients. These systems are great at organizing and giving you promptings to do things, but it comes down to YOU and how far you are willing to go to personalize your message to each person.
Bottom line: People want personal connections, not mass media messages, and it is up to YOU and your brand to establish and foster these connections!
So often in business development individuals try to customize their “strategy” to blanket as many consumers as possible. The solution to viability is to set a disciplined strategy, targeted to a well researched segment of the market, and add as much value as humanly possible.
Michael Porter is pretty much the Father of business strategy. He presents the obvious directions you can go when formulating a strategy and that is: differentiate, cost leadership, or focus on a niche (by differentiating or competing on cost). But this is only the generic start. From this point it becomes “how and what do I differentiate?”, or “how do I sustain a cost advantage?”.
Constructing a generic strategy in and of it self does not guarantee a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage describes the way a business can choose and implement a generic strategy to achieve a sustainable advantage. To best determine what your competitive advantage is, simply divide your business into segments (marketing, operations, management, service etc) and determine what unique thing your business does better or more efficiently than others in the industry. Once you can isolate what makes your company different you have something tangible that you can focus on.
If the goal is to be the leader in your industry you must remember that leadership is not a cause but an effect of competitive advantage.
Articulating your strategy must involve more than just a list of action steps but must also include the tangible advantage you have over the competition. This is the only surefire way to ensure proper and successful implementation.
So formulate a strategy to achieve your goal, clearly articulate your core advantage, set metrics to measure results, and have systems in place to ensure proper implementation.