What’s Your Strategy to Get More Customers?

by Halisi

I looked up the word strategy and was surprised to see that  most of the definitions referred to war tricks to beat your opponent.   The last definition reads: “…a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world”.  Don’t you hate it when the definition contains the word you’re looking up?  So do I, so I looked up the word stratagems.  It reads: “…any artifice, ruse, or trick devised or used to attain a goal or to gain an advantage over an adversary or competitor..”  A ruse or a trick – seriously?

In 1996, Michael Porter, published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled WHAT IS STRATEGY?  In this article Mr. Porter defined strategy as it pertains to business in a much less militaristic mode; more importantly it took a definition that was broad and nebulous ( and cynical) in scope and condensed to a simple, yet powerful actionable definition.

According to Mr. Porter strategy is being different!  More specifically choosing to perform activities differently than rivals OR performing different activities than rivals in a manner that cannot be easily copied.

As I consult with small business owners and ask what is their strategy; I am always dismayed when I hear… “I’m cheaper”.  Getting into price wars with the sandwich shop down the road is not a strategy!  Moreover, most small businesses do not have the buying power to effectively be a low-cost leader.  Truly successfully businesses take this seriously.  Your strategy should be a combination of 3 main ingredients:

1.  Who are you or who is your company?

That might sound weird, but think about it, companies do have a personality.  That personality is based upon what it does.    Just like you can tell who a person truly is by what they do; the same is the case with organizations.  Think about Nike and Apple – I bet you could easily assign personality traits to those corporations.   Write down who you would like your company/organization to be and then be it.  Whole Foods put it very simply:  Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet.

2.  What is it that you’re trying to achieve?

“Make more money” should not be the first thing that rolls from your lips.  First of all how much is more and secondly if you do what you do well, the money will come.  What you are trying to achieve should be big, it should be something that rallies the troops.  President Obama said that he wanted the United States to be the most educated nation.  That’s huge, especially because we’ve fallen so far behind.  It’s simple and directive.  Everyone involved should know what they should be doing moving forward.  Does your team know what they are rallying around?  “Sell more” doesn’t cut it.  Brainstorm and write down what you want your company to achieve over the next 5-10 years and make it BIG!

3.  Okay, now you know what you are trying to achieve and you know who you are and how you should behave.  The last ingredient is how.

How are you going to achieve it.  What are you going to do that is unique to the way you do things that will move you closer to the goal.  Look at your process and what it takes to deliver the goods.  What pieces are most important?  Where should you put more energy?  Is it customer service?  Is it research?  Perhaps it is the manner in which you deliver the service.  Whatever those pieces that you deem most important, it is up to you to become the best in your town at those pieces.  You have to be good at the rest too!  It won’t matter how delicious your curry-spiced veggie burger is if your customer service is in the toilet.

“All of this sounds like a great exercise, but how does this get me more customers?” you ask.  Good question.  I want you to think of your company or organization as a ship.  When a ship leaves port there is a captain and his navigators and they all have the same destination in mind.  Everyone is working in unison to achieve the goal.  Your promotional plans, your operational plans, etc should all be designed with your ultimate goal in mind.  For instance, if your goal is to sell as many veggie burgers as McDonalds sells Big Macs, then you must align all of your efforts accordingly.  You will no longer be engaged in directionless mailers or aimless email campaigns.  All of your efforts will be focused on 1. maybe educating a beef-eating nation on the merits of eating less beef and more veggie-based products and 2. creating to-die-for flavors for your audience that is already sold.

Strategic focused efforts = more brand awareness from your targeted customers.  More awareness = more consumption which brings you closer to your goals!




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