Straight Talk about the “L” word

How did David beat Goliath?  With a rock.  And some leverage.

David had a bigger, meaner competitor, we can assume that the big guy had won many fights before, he was probably very confident, who beats a giant?  But David didn’t fight Goliath’s fight, he fought his own way, with a slingshot that multiplied the power of a lowly rock.  David found his leverage and defeated the giant, what were the odds of that?

Finding your Leverage is key for a smaller business.  If you can’t redefine the battleground to maximize your competitive advantages, the task will be much more difficult.   Here are five steps to success.

  • What is your identified measurable goal? Clearly defining the mission is key to minimizing both financial and time waste. What is the time period you are allowing to achieve the goal?  (yes, it will probably take longer, but setting milestones will help keep you on task)
  • Be honest with yourself. What is your current situation?  Are you growing, stagnant or declining? What are your competitive assets—what do you bring to the marketing battleground?  Assets are not just the financial funds available, but any proprietary processes, intellectual concepts and industry experience that you have acquired.  Next conduct a realistic appraisal of your current (today) business.  Both Strengths and Weaknesses need to be researched and identified
  • Where is the opportunity? Review the competitive market, what do you have that you can leverage against the competition.  Be open and creative, sometimes the best leverage is one that you overlook.  What may seem “simple” to you is extremely valuable to the potential customer.  As you explore potential leverage points discuss with current clients to determine what they most value in your relationship.  This is inexpensive and valuable feedback, most likely acquired in a casual setting (lunch, drinks, etc.)
  • Listen.  Your clients/potential clients can tell you what their pain point is, but if you are just “transmitting” and not listening you will never know.  Your solution won’t be the right one unless you understand the problem.  Many times the client can’t discover their leverage.  Our job is to listen and help find the competitive leverage.
  • Probe. Finding the best leverage point(s) can be discovered through both data analysis and our eyes and ears to find the emotional hooks that can be leveraged as a unique weapon against your larger competition.  By combining the logical data and adding the human element can we find the recipe for a creative leap to a “golden nugget” idea – that leverages the rational advantage with an emotional hook – your “slingshot”.

Don’t expect to discover your brilliant slingshot in a day.  Find and analyze your data, use an outside adviser to help you get past your own bias, find the quiet time to reflect and find that “golden nugget” idea that is your slingshot.  Strategy and creativity, a powerful combination.  Need help getting there?  Let’s talk.

-David Hays   david@boost-biz.com    boost-biz.com

Tactics Looking for a Strategy

“I’ve got a great idea! We’ll add Fried Chicken to our menu.”  The client was a fast food burger chain who wanted to grow their dinner business.

“Can you cook fried chicken with your current equipment?” we asked.

“No, we’ll have to buy more equipment. It’ll pay off quickly”

“You will add inventory for this, train the staff plus hire additional staff, right?”

“But no one else does it, they don’t have my vision” he said. (Note: he didn’t say ‘focus’)

“Doesn’t fried chicken go stale after an hour? And take over 15 minutes to cook fresh?  What about investing in R&D (creative versions) for our existing burger line, after all we are a burger place.”

“Aw, come on, you need to think outside the box.”

Within a couple of years the fried chicken was abandoned and the chain sold shortly thereafter.  They had lost their strategic vision and a unique competitive position.

This was a perfect example of ‘tactics looking for a strategy’.

We offer free initial meetings to assist new entrepreneurs looking to start/grow a business.  A common pattern seen is a person who has lots of energy, has several ideas and tries to use shear force of will to achieve business success.  While I am in awe of the calories expended by these folks, it pains me to see the impact of such wasted efforts, and funds.

The commonality is having only a vague goal (not refined, targeted, measurable and above all-Consumer relevant).  And most importantly, the lack of a viable strategy to get there.  Usually they have a dream, but definitely not a plan.

This is the classic “Tactics Looking for a Strategy” scenario.  Lots of ideas, lots of action, lots of different directions.  Most often the tactics have some merit, but seem to be in conflict or at least divergent.  Money is spent, time and effort expended with little return toward the business goal.

Our mantra at Boost Business is Work Smarter, Not Harder!  Define your opportunities, set goals that will activate the opportunities identified.  Then determine the strategies that will drive you to achieve your goals.  This way your superfragilistic ideas (tactics) can be checked against your strategic plan to make sure they are driving success to your goal.  Small businesses especially, cannot waste limited funds driving down dead ends.  Smart, focused and creative is the formula for marketing success.

Defining your strategic vision is vital to help you stay focused, certifying that your creative ideas maintain alignment to your business goals.

Want to think out of the box?  Through ideas against the wall, break the paradigm?  Awesome!!!  Then measure against your original goals and strategies.  Some times it’s ok to “chicken – out”.

When all you have is a hodgepodge of actions that don’t all work toward the strategic plan?   “Tactics Looking for a Strategy”.

Is this relevant to you?  Want to talk?  Boost-biz.com/contact

Give ’em Something to Talk About


It was a sunny summer day in Austin Texas on the banks of the Colorado River, at Auditorium Shores when I met this redhead with a great blues voice who could shred that slide guitar. Bonnie Raitt was in a slump, professionally and personally. Columbia records had dropped her from the label, she was drinking, etc. too much (it was the 80’s). But Bonnie soon made a fabulous comeback, on her terms.  She “gave ‘em something to talk about”.

This great song from Bonnie Raitt is also a lesson in promotional marketing.
Some tips for creating noise about your brand.

Don’t be normal. Be creative. Media outlets get tons of submissions. You had better be entertaining and give them a reason to follow up. Example: A client in Texas – The Flying Pizza Company. We created an event to launch the world’s largest flying pizza, it would be unmanned, as the initial flight was too risky for a pilot. The 54 inch pizza was launched from a roof across from the UT campus. The event garnered local press and coverage from the top rated TV station, they were looking for quirky stories! The result was thousands of dollars in coverage for minimal costs.

Be Bold. Follow the mantra-‘go big or go home’. Example: Pepsi was a constant underdog in the Atlanta market (Coke’s home town). So …  let’s give away a house! Game pieces were printed inside Pepsi 12 packs, a local realty company put up a house in return for the publicity. We had a television co-sponsor for media coverage. 12 people qualified for the ceremony where each got a key, one of which opened the door to their new home. Pepsi garnered a ten point market share increase, huge!

Leverage a stronger partner. Tie in’s with organizations with larger, loyal followers will create added impact for your brand. Example: Georgia-Pacific’s consumer paper brands were secondary in market share and shelf space to their larger competitors. The Sparkle brand reached out to the Country Music Association for a co-promotion. Consumers were solicited to write four lines of a possible country song, with the word “Sparkle” in the lyrics. The winner got a trip to the CMA awards in Nashville, plus a recording session where their lyrics were turned into a full country song and recorded for them. Again coverage was terrific and we received increased displays in grocers across the South.

Above all, reinforce your brand. Make sure the program fits your brand and reinforces your competitive positioning.

Ready for some Rocket Fuel? We are ready to Boost your Business. Let’s talk.

Disrupter or Disrupted – Pick One!

The world’s largest taxi company owns no cars. (Uber).
The world’s leading hotelier owns no rooms (AirBNB).
Retail giant Amazon had no bricks and mortar stores (until last year – bought Whole Foods)
Change is happening faster each year. Either you adapt to the changing marketplace or your customers will switch out to a better solution. As the saying goes, if you are not growing, you are dying.
If you look at the above examples you will notice that these fast growing companies have one thing in common – their business model is creating new ways to connect sellers and buyers. The internet is the new Mall. Instead of traveling to the Mall to shop the various retailers, one can now travel to the web to find their retailer. What does this mean for your business? Are you leveraging the internet to the maximum potential?
But let’s get to the core issue. How can you evolve/grow your brand.
First, are you ready to embrace change? I mean, take a really dive deep about your mission, your competitive advantage: what and how you deliver value to your consumer. Truly it is easier for an upstart to challenge the status quo with new innovative ways to create consumer value than to move a large existing company, but it can/must be done to maintain relevancy. To prevent being overcome, you need to discover new methods of doing business, while maintaining/transitioning your base. To evolve, not become extinct is the key.
Time is our most important commodity! Can you find a way to provide quicker, easier product delivery? Can you simplify the purchase process for your customers (make it easy to say “yes”). Any way you can provide stress relief in the process is an advantage. What can you do to lessen that pain?
Understand your key customers and define time challenges for their interface in your business/category. Do the research, via trade associations/magazines, syndicated research (many times available via the web) and simply speaking with your current customers. Are there examples in other categories that are transferrable to your process?
Once you uncover the pain points, abandon your preconceived notions and look at this with a new vision. (This is where a consultant can help, to help bring a clear view of the issues). Find a NEW way of bringing VALUE to your category in your marketplace.
Phase two: Messaging. Involve a communications specialist to help you craft a succinct message that embodies your new/evolved offering. More on this in a later blog.
Be brave, be creative, be bold.

Three Questions for the New Year




Simplify the planning process by focusing on these three questions.  This will help refine your efforts and concentrate on the highest potential initiatives.  Follow these steps to set the table for a profitable new year.

  1. What were my biggest successes of the last year? Identify the three best things that happened last year and why they worked, strategically (what consumer problem did it solve, for example).  Take this learning and develop the idea further. Quite simply, we want to do more of the best tactics and find ways to improve them next year to make them even more successful. A company can stray from its core by losing focus on what makes them great.  We have seen past results when a brand forgets its “reason for being”.  A quick review of your promotional calendar with financial performance can be a great launching point to analyze your past results. Successes may be revenue driven, increased profitability or customer satisfaction. Don’t ignore simple tweaks, sometimes they bring the greatest reward.
  2. What were my biggest challenges last year? It could be competition, staffing, pricing or even your own unsuccessful initiative.  Find the three biggest obstacles and ways to either attack them, or avoid them. It could be ending something you currently do solves a challenge.  Concentrate on the successes, erase the challenges—simplify the process and focus on building excellence.
  3. Set three goals that will build your brand and profitability. It could be revenue growth (be specific), improving your margins, building a new profit center or staff training.  Executing three goals well is more impactful than a long list of goals which have limited impact.  It’s just three goals, not a list, so be sure they will bring solid results to your bottom line.

Set targeted goals for success, define strategies that will propel the needed results, then execute tactics that reinforce the strategies.  Don’t get “lost in the woods”, focus on excellence in the programs you pursue.  Fewer, Bigger, Better should be your mantra.  Have a Great New Year!  david@boost-biz.com

Free 4 Step Guide to Strategic Planning



click here for the FREE download   Four Step Business Planning

 

Strategic Planning is a key element for profitable growth and maximizing your return on investment.

Boost Business has developed a free guideline to help you down the path to a solid plan for the new year.  Complete with forms and simple instructions to get started.

Please download and use this guide to create your strategic plan.  It starts will a good analysis of your current status, so you have a baseline from which to grow.   For further assistance, please contact us at david@boost-biz.com for a free one hour consultation and help getting your information compiled for the current analysis.  Having completed this type of planning for many large and small businesses, use our experience and processes to plan your path to success.

Finding solutions for business growth is our passion.  How can we help you grow your small business?

 

Giving Thanks and Taking Stock




At this time of year it is customary to reflect on our many blessings, both professional and personally, and give Thanks for the gifts in our lives. This includes showing appreciation to those who have assisted us along the way, our employees, suppliers, family and the Creator who all have provided the path and tools to gain our blessings. It is also time to reflect on how we can improve and set new goals for the new year.

This should start with an assessment of the past year, review the accomplishments and challenges to objectively identify opportunities for growth as well as potential weaknesses to address. Only then can we set objectives for the next year and a strategic plan to reach those goals. Finally, set up or maintain a measurement process so that you can monitor your results along the way and modify your tactics during the year to boost your path to success.

Four steps to Business Planning

  1. Review (use objective measurements) your business and performance, hopefully against goals set previously
    1.  Discover strengths and weaknesses to address
    2. Assess your current vision for the business and evolve as necessary
  2. Revise/identify your goals for next year (and three years out)
  3. Develop the strategies, then tactics to achieve the goals
  4. Create business dashboard to monitor results toward the goals
    1. Review quarterly
    2. Revise tactics as needed

Small businesses should not be intimidated by this process. While Fortune 500 companies will spend weeks and thousands to complete this process, even small businesses should conduct a simple review and goal setting. A “simple” process plan is available from Boost Business to help you on the journey.

We wish to give thanks to all our family, friends and clients and encourage you to spend quality time with family during this Holiday season. And if you need help with your planning, please let us know, America’s greatness is built on the success of Small Business.

Developing Sticky Customers


The most expensive element of marketing is gaining new customers. First, you need awareness of your business and what you do. Second, creating and communicating your competitive advantage. Finally, converting that consideration into activation. Three steps before any revenue is created.

That’s why sticky customers are so valuable. Those who already know your product and value and will continue to bring sales over the years. So, what are you doing to enhance your “stickiness”?

1. Be a Hero! Great customer service is dying, especially in retail. Engage and help your customers. Be a solution to their problem. If you have a retail store, greet your customers and ask what they are looking to buy. Not only does this allow you to help guide them (solution) to solve their needs, it also offers a chance to build the ticket with other items to complete their project, ensemble, etc.

2. Keep the conversation going. Contact them after the sale to ensure satisfaction. If they have an issue, solve it! Everyone has a story about how a company ignored a problem after purchase of a product, or worse.

3. Develop some sort of loyalty program. It can be a points system, special pricing, special offerings, appreciation party. Find an impactful, appropriate program that works for your product category. As you develop it, ensure that it has value and helps lead to incremental sales. It’s part of loving your customers.

4. Ongoing subscriptions. Can you create an offer that allows monthly/weekly ongoing purchases? Presell that offer for 6 months/one year/automatic renewal and generate ongoing revenue!

5. Create a newsletter. By having an ongoing messaging, you stay fresh in your customers mind. Otherwise they can be swayed by a competitor, or simply forget about you (people have busy lives!). But commit to regular messaging. Many times, a company starts the newsletter and then it dies because other issues come up. Assign this responsibility to a reliable creative person, or outsource it. Make it entertaining as well as informative. Don’t forget an offer to generate return traffic.

These are a few idea starters. It will work best after an analysis of your business trends and a strategic marketing plan to sell your best features and most profitable programs/items.
This is guaranteed the most profitable marketing you can do…maintain your customers and continue activating them.

Boost Business… Strategic Marketing.

Listen, Do You Want to Know A Secret?

I was an early adopter of XM Radio and really appreciate the diverse programming available. Last month they added a Beatles channel and I since have had the music of the Fab Four front of mind. So yesterday I heard a song that related to my obsession with discovering customer motivations and desires.
“Listen, do you want to know a secret?” Key to our business success is discovering the pain points of our current and potential customers, then delivering workable solutions. For many, listening has become a lost art. If you can develop a conversation and truly LISTEN, many times you will hear “secret” problems, desires and open a door that can lead to break through solutions to complex business problems. In a carefully guided conversation discussing a client’s business processes nuggets of information can be discovered that can lead to “a ha” learnings. Self discovery is so much easier with an outside partner to see the issues an owner has been “stepping over” for sometimes years. As a consultant in the discovery phase, LISTEN, you might learn a secret.
Uncovering the end user’s motivations and unlocking the triggers to their motivations and desires is led by listening as well as observing. Less talking about your offerings and listening to people is what leads to discovery. As a friend used to say “it’s hard to hear when your mouth is open”.
When working with a new client, I like to start with some philosophical questions along with the basics. Why did you get into this business? What was the best promotion/event you’ve done? How do you rate success? Do you run cash flow projections? What was the happiest day you remember since running the business? These are not always easy questions, to get answers shut up and listen. Don’t fill the quiet with follow up questions unless they give quick, shallow responses. We look to find long term satisfaction as well as short term success. If you want to know a secret, listen.
If you want to discuss more, reach out. We’ll talk…and listen.