6 Questions for a Quick-Start Strategy Recharge
Do not assume that the assumptions you made last year when you developed a 12-month strategy for your business, will remain the same over the next 12 months..
We’ve all experienced a lot of changes in the last few years, with some businesses being more impacted than others, and some wondering how they are going to recharge and get going again. Other companies have taken off.
Regardless of how your company is tracking, it is always sound business practice to revisit your strategy, at least annually, and test if the assumptions you have always based your plans on, still apply.
So here are 6 questions as a starting point, to think about as part of your planning preparation for the next 12-18 months:
- What are the major trends/changes in your market or industry?
When major changes occur in your market and in how people are doing business, it doesn’t mean you need to follow what your competitors and other companies are doing. It just means you need to be mindful of these changes, and make an assessment in terms of:
- Whether they actually impact your business and your customers
- Whether you need to make the same changes as everyone else
- Whether your business needs to respond in a different way
For example, in the consulting and training industry, there has been a major shift toward conferences, workshops and training online. That was a clever shift in response to lockdowns, and has been enabled by technology that we weren’t even using just a few short years ago.
If you consult to large organisations and regularly run workshops and in-person training groups, you would have needed to follow suit with these changes in order to keep your revenue flowing. Running events and seminars using platforms like zoom, Microsoft Teams, and LinkedIn Live enabled you and your business to remain relevant and valuable to your clients. Making the same changes as others was the right strategy.
Clever hospitality businesses used QR codes for customer ‘self-service’ so to speak, and reduced the need for staff that were hard to find anyway.
Software as a Service was a major trend that shifted away from in-house software installations with associated maintenance contracts and help desk support, to online user access. Xero is a great example of a company that most people know of, that has grown with this model. SaaS is now the norm.
You don’t always have to react immediately to new trends and market changes, but if you are aware of them and what others are doing in response to them, you will be able to craft a better strategy in response to these changes.
- Who are now your ideal clients – has the profile changed?
This of course is a standard component of any planning process but now we need to reassess if this has changed. Are any of your clients struggling as a result of the last few years? Will they view your product or service now as discretionary, or essential or no longer relevant?
The best way to determine this is with a client survey. I discuss this in more detail in podcast number 1. Find out how relevant you are to your customers now, and how that may change (in a positive or negative way) in the future.
The best way to rise to the top of your market is to specialise. Specialise in your offering, or what you do for customers and clients, and who you do it for. For example, I specialise in helping my clients upscale from 7 to 8 figures in a manageable and profitable way. I start working with clients when they have 5 or more full time employees and are around the 2M mark in revenue.
A client of mine was growing slowly through low 7 figures and although the business was successful and profitable, growth was slow and frustrating. They reassessed where they could add the most value and which niche they could grow with. Once the decision was made to specialise in a niche market where the customers were all big consumer brand names with big budgets that could afford my client’s offerings, the company took off. They have grown from a small business to a powerful mid-range company based on the specialisation strategy.
So getting back to you, are there any market niches you could choose to specialise in that would help make you a more dominant player in that niche?
- Is it time to repackage or develop new service or product offerings?
For example, it will be much harder to sell a generic offering than a specific one designed specifically for your ideal client targets.
Your offer needs to be: Easy to Sell and Easy to Buy
So, let’s look at ‘easy to sell’. You or your team need to be able to clearly articulate your offer with a clear value proposition. Your offer will be easy to sell if it it is something your customers really value, and if that value is well communicated. Are your product and service offerings still valid and valuable?
Part of the ‘easy to buy’ component is that you also need to structure your offers in a way to help your clients and customers self-select, and understand how it will add value and deliver results.
I refer to this often because it’s a good model: look at how software packages are sold in Basic, Standard, Professional type of tiers with associated features for each level. Research repeatedly shows that when presented with three options, more purchasers will opt for the middle option – not the cheapest but not the one with all the bells and whistles. Do you have similar and valuable options for your customer base?
Is it time to provide an entry-level offering to help get new customers onboard, or would it make more sense to create a new high-end offer (with all the bells and whistles) because there will be customers who want the best product or service on offer.
If you are invaluable to your customers, they will come to you when they need new solutions. Based on your relationships and knowledge of their businesses, you could potentially always have new product and service opportunities for these customers that will create new revenue streams for your business.
That is worth investigating.
- Can you change the structure and overheads of your business?
People costs are a hefty part of most business expenses. People are now used to working from home, working more flexible hours, and some have embraced that fully and would be happy to work from home for the majority of their work-week. Can you restructure their hours and remuneration accordingly to help reduce overheads?
Do you need the same size office to work from?
Is everyone in your team performing, or could you be doing more with less? Do you really need all those people performing all those functions, or could you streamline and become more efficient?
When under pressure to produce and get things done, the most immediate response is usually to add resources to help with the workload. The better response is to address workflow and processes, and aim to improve efficiencies rather than add headcount costs.
- How are you going to engage with your clients and customers?
Apart from structured meetings and calls with clients and possibly some other ad hoc communication, how do you plan on getting closer to them in a business world that is likely to have less personal contact with more people working remotely?
It’s worth brainstorming all the ways in which you could connect, and include some of the more old-fashioned methods like personal hand-written cards. Personal communication is key.
We need to remember that the people who ‘follow’ you, or who are in-person clients of your company, or who subscribe to any of your communication, they are real people who have chosen to work with you/have a relationship with you.
Call a client, just to see how they are going (as the sole purpose of the call); invite customers for a coffee; invite them to an event or function with you that you think they’d be interested in; send them a personal hand-written card or note. It’s these personal touch-points that will be remembered and valued.
We need to respect that and give it even more attention.
- Marketing is even more critical than ever before. Do you have a plan?
Communication with clients and prospects, knowing exactly who your ideal clients are, revisiting and possibly repackaging your products and services in a changed market, and thinking about potential new delivery channels, are all a vital part of your marketing strategy.
For most businesses, many aspects of how we used to do business have changed.
I believe the result will be to make us better at doing what we do, and thinking about that in a more creative way.
Break down your plan to look at:
- Target market and ideal client profile – remember to niche down to give you more clarity and laser focus on who you want to work with
- Products and services – packaging, pricing, delivery (easy to sell; easy to buy)
- Communication and content – messages, methods, existing clients and prospective clients. Make sure you have Calls to Action in all your communication as part of your customer journey
- Above all, make it personal. Impersonal, automated, unsolicited messages and communication do NOT work. Personal, considered, intentional communication does.
I hope these points will help you revisit and recharge your strategy for the next 12-18 months. And even if you only start with one point, it will give your strategy a fresh perspective.