Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

It worked for them. Will it work for me?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

During a recent meeting, I was asked about an early viral video campaign I developed way back in 2006. My client loved what we had accomplished and asked whether he should do the same thing. My answer: “Maybe, maybe not. You’re asking the wrong question.”

Marketing discussions should never start with execution. Is mobile marketing a good idea? A new TV commercial? Twitter campaign? All are useful tools if used in service of the correct objective. But there’s the rub: unless tactics are designed in service of a specific goal, a great tactic may lead you in the wrong direction. “What’s the objective?” should always be the first question of any marketing discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment so far » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Street Fighting Strategy

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

[excerpt from our ebook, The 13 Deadly Sins of Marketing]

On the mean streets of marketing, where thugs lurk in every alley and aisle, your choices are few. Five strategies, that’s it. Of those, only two of those are worth pursuing. Of those, neither will succeed if they haven’t been built with a keen understanding of the competition as they will exist tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

What’s Your Innovation Sweet Spot?

Monday, January 9th, 2012

It is fashionable among innovation writers to scorn Sustaining Innovation (what this blog calls Organic Growth) – the kind of incremental product changes that allow ads to scream “New! Improved!” These writers generally applaud Apple’s ability to create new markets via Disruptive Innovation, conveniently forgetting that Apple is also masterful at Sustaining Innovation.

We have argued that the only rational innovation strategy is to balance effort behind both organic sustaining growth  and disruptive innovation. However, Clay Christensen, Harvard’s innovation theorist, points out that companies have a greater chance of success by specializing in one or the other. Specifically, he argues that Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

What Makes a Great Organization?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

My friend Dan Rockwell writes a terrific blog, LeadershipFreak, which regularly challenges me to better define my thoughts about key leadership issues. A recent post titled “Six Steps to Organizational Excellence” based on work by Dr. Muriel Asher provoked me to come up with my own list. Here are my Six Drivers of Organizational Excellence: Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Why You Need a Strategy for Innovation

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Companies that believe they must choose between organic growth and innovation will inevitably fail – it is a false choice. In a recent post, we defined organic growth and discussed what it can and cannot accomplish. Here, we continue with innovation. Sustainable success is all about balancing the two.

Innovation was last decade’s business buzzword, and for good reason. Real innovation is hard, but the potential payoff is huge. High risk, high reward.

We define innovation as the commercialization of a marketplace discontinuity. By definition, then, innovation has unpredictability built in – no one is good enough to truly disrupt with planned regularity. And that makes many managers uncomfortable Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Why You Need a Strategy for Organic Growth

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Some managers are lucky. They passively coast to growth inside high growth markets – the market drives their growth. Eventually they’ll fail, of course, but for now, it’s great to be them. Most managers, however, face the difficult decision of how to allocate resource between the other two available growth drivers: 1) organic growth, and 2) innovation.

Many leaders believe they must choose one or the other, that it is not possible to execute both successfully. In fact, it’s become quite fashionable to claim that only “white space strategies” – disruptive innovation – can drive growth.

We disagree.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

The 3-Dimensional Customer

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

It’s easy to talk about being customer-focused. It’s less easy to focus on specific customers. There are so many, and so many different types! Here are three customer dimensions to consider when selecting your growth strategy. It’s not a trivial exercise: wrong focus, no growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

The 6 Dimensions of Explosive Growth

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Driving growth is a complex task for entrepreneurs and organization leaders. Some bloggers want you to believe that all you need to do is have a vision, or a plan, or innovate in white space. Sorry, not that simple. Our research has identified 6 critical growth drivers that need to be addressed and balanced. Read the rest of this entry »

3 Comments » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

The 4th Question that Leads to Insight

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I recently posted a discussion titled “The 3 Questions that Lead to Insight,” which triggered several discussions with colleagues. There were two areas of controversy. First, is insight different from vision, strategy and action? Second, are these 3 questions sufficient? Let me address those by saying Yes and No, respectively.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Leaving Money on the Table?

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

What’s the right price? What’s a fair price? There are no easy answers when it comes to pricing. But if you’re not wrestling with these questions, you’re likely leaving money on the table. Here are some ways to approach pricing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Today’s Dumbest Business Article

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Sometimes an article is so dumb you just gotta comment. Try this from “It’s Is All About You” on “The best way to deal with competition is simple: Ignore it. The greatest leaders don’t care what the competition thinks.”

Gosh, I guess all those leaders I’ve admired weren’t great after all. Because most of my role models obsess over the competition.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Planning and the Entrepreneur

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Last fall (Nov 9, 2009), there was a provocative posting in The New York Times titled “Why Don’t All Entrepreneurs Write Business Plans?” The author, Scott Shane, reviewed the literature and summarized some theories. Worth reading, but even more interesting to me were some of the comments:

  • “A business plan is never finished, so at what point while writing one do you actually begin? That has been my challenge.”
  • “[Entrepreneurs] feel their time is better spent working hard and putting in long hours to ensure the business succeeds.”
  • “Honestly the concept of a business plan confuses me, unless it is used in search of seed capital. If it isn’t, what good is a plan?”

Each of these comments reveals a misunderstanding of the basic process of business. Business is about managing continuous change. It never stops. That leaves you with two choices: floundering in a sea of chaos (reacting), or staying mindful of your goal and making regular course corrections (proacting).

The business plan is never finished? Well of course! Business is never finished. The plan is a snapshot at a point in time. It should be developed with full awareness that it will be obsolete the moment it’s finished. But by exercising the discipline of identifying the key issues and selecting the key strategies that will drive success based on today’s conditions, you will have a clear understanding of what needs to be adjusted when conditions change tomorrow.

Time better spent working hard to ensure success? I used to have a pet rat that worked real hard running in a wheel. It never got anywhere. I’ve found that managers who regularly get off the treadmill to take a long view of their business are the ones who succeed long term. And are happier. And get more done.

No specific purpose for the exercise? That’s missing the point. The purpose is to provide purpose. A good plan identifies goals and shows how all the pieces fit together. A good plan helps employees understand how their efforts contribute to the whole. Teams become stronger. The company ceases to be about the whims of the management and becomes about working together for a greater good.

Now, do companies frequently misuse business plans? Absolutely. They treat the plan as written in stone. Instead of becoming an enabler of nimble change, the plan becomes a straitjacket. Or they overwork it, take it down to the tiniest detail, forgetting that conditions change. They spend way too much time chiseling a masterpiece, then feel stuck with it.

I once worked for a mid-sized company that turned the business plan into religion. Months were spent building and collating vast spreadsheets, as if the sums of numbers based on assumptions about assumptions were Truth. Of course it was way too complex to revisit all those assumptions as the year unfolded, so there was a blind focus on the plan’s metrics and how to achieve them rather than what should be done to manage to actual conditions (always different from the original assumptions).

So yes, business planning, like any tool, can be misused. But I believe that virtually any organization can achieve superior results with a balanced planning process build around proper expectations.

As Stephen Covey says, to be effective you need to be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. That’s what building a business plan is about. It takes you out of reactive mode, identifies the watch-outs, sets the goals, and outlines the steps.

And one more thing: today’s plan is only a plan. Expect reality to be different. Be nimble. Keep the plan simple enough that revisiting it is simple.

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter

Is “Niche” Really a Strategy?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Some marketing strategists argue that there are only three strategies: go head-to-head with competitors, target a differentiable niche, or change the game. We disagree. There are really only two – at least if you want to win.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment » | Share this post: Stumble Upon Facebook Twitter