For years, my big brother Tom and I have been intrigued by businesses we’ve encountered whose leadership is convinced their company is unique in certain ways — and then, upon further research, we find the contrary to be true.
Successfully attracting new customers/clients requires a clear understanding of what you do and how you do it. That seems simple enough, right? But is your mission, your purpose, in writing? Does your team understand it enough to explain it? Even more importantly, do they embrace it?
Some call the process of aligning these aspects of your business strategic planning. Others consider it SWOT analysis documentation:
- Strengths: aspects of your business that provide advantage over others.
- Weaknesses: aspects of your business that put you at a disadvantage compared to others.
- Opportunities: aspects of your business that could be leveraged for further advantage.
- Threats: aspects outside your business that could cause you difficulty.
Regardless of what it’s called, it’s a necessary process. Engage your team in such an effort.
Be careful, however, because this is a process that can take on a not-so-helpful life of its own and backfire unless you’ve given it plenty of thought and preparation. Here are a few things worth considering:
- Include the appropriate people – the approvers and/or those who will be responsible for implementing plans.
- Don’t include so many people that you stifle input and candor.
- Plan the timing for the entire process, from beginning to end. Include lock-down dates, and get a firm commitment from participants.
- An offsite meeting location is advisable, to avoid daily distractions. Perhaps one of your company advisers can provide a conference room in their offices.
- An outside facilitator can sometimes be useful.
- Warn participants that “homework” before and/or between sessions may be necessary.
- Commitment by all, backed up by accountability, is key to getting this task accomplished.
Ultimately, you’re trying to come out of this process with action plans – to-do lists – that focus your team’s efforts on bringing in more new customers/clients.
Some practical, useful outcomes might include:
- Can your potential customers/clients clearly understand who you are and what you do?
- How can features of what you do create benefits?
- Remember that relatable success stories are powerful.
- Describe how you serve customers/clients — including who, their roles, communication lines and where “the buck stops.”
- Demonstrate any synergies within your company that will benefit customers/clients.
Once you’ve engaged in this process, you will be:
- Encouraged by an increased confidence and recommitment to leveraging your strengths to seize untapped opportunities.
- Aware of areas to either shore up or avoid altogether.
- More informed about your competition and the related implications (which we’ll talk about next time).
Is what you do and how you do it really different?
Next post: But We’re Different
Tom’s editorial comment: If, while you’re reading this series, you believe Dan could be helpful to your company, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 248-701-8787.