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I’m always on the lookout for arguments supporting brand strategy. A brand strategy, as I define it, being an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”
Many marketing plans have firm business and sales objectives: increase stock price 4 points, slow market share by 1% per annum, reduce materials cost by 2%, increase sales 150%. These are important, hard metrics. Metrics with which no one can argue.
Accomplishing objectives is the purview of strategy. In marketing this is where things get problematic. Many marketers go to the marketing playbook. If there was a tactics store (An agency? A consultant?), they would shop there — given the money. Typical strategies one might find in a tactical plan are: customer acquisition, increased sales-per-customer, improved retention, increased efficiency in production or marketing. All are business imperatives. Sadly, they’re generic. Everybody has them in their marketing plans.
Where the road curves toward the light is with brand strategy. Brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks) provides the “how.” Patton’s strategy was “kill more bastards than your foe.” Generic. But his brand strategy equivalent included things like “outflank, tank destroyers, thrust line, etc.” Specific to the situation. And all actionable.
I’m not going to go all Sun Tzu on you but will ask “What elements of your strategy are unique to you, differentiated, and non-generic? What elements can every employee understand and personally act-upon? These are the elements of the brand strategy — the how. Know more how.
Tags: 1 claim 3 proof planks, Brand Strategy, business objectives, business strategy, customer acquisition, improved retention, increased efficiency in production or marketing, increased sales-per-customer, Marketing objectives, Marketing Strategy, marketing tips, one clam three proof planks, patton strategy, Sun Tzu, whats the idea, whatstheidea, where the road curves toward the light is in brand strategy
What do Google and Amazon have in common? Google puts the world’s information one click away. Amazon puts the world’s goods a few clicks and a couple of days away.
When my daughter was young, she was waiting at a restaurant for a tuna fish sandwich. Every time a server walked by my daughter asked her mom and grandmother “Where is my sandwich?” “It’s coming, it’s coming.” This went on for a while. And since the English language didn’t seem to be communicating properly to this very young girl, she clarified “I want my sandwich in my mouth now.”
Business ventures that take into account immediacy, instant gratification and convenience tend toward success.
In a service business especially, people want faster, more and for less. As you are looking to improve your business and business strategy spend time understanding obstacles. Then remove them.
Tags: amazon strategy, business strategy, google strategy, obstacles, whats the idea, whatstheidea
A brand strategy done well encompasses the marketing strategy and is the business strategy. Why? Because it’s active. I define brand strategy as an “organizing principle that drives product, experience and messaging.” Messaging is last…because a message that doesn’t reflect product and experience is simply copy.
Ask any successful business leader to identify their company’s “one claim” (consumer promise) and three “support planks,” and they’ll be hard-pressed to do it. That is why brand strategy is so tough. A single claim and three product or service values, many will tell you, is too limiting. Until you see it on paper. On business stationery. A good brand strategy is not filled with marko-babble, it contains business-winning evidence. Business-winning behaviors and business-winning strategy.
I call it brand strategy and contrary to what some consultants will peddle, it is way more than a loose federation of tactics, metrics and tagline.
For real life examples, please write Steve at WhatsTheIdea.
Tags: brand planks, Brand Strategy, business strategy, claim and proof, claim and proof planks, marko-babble, proof planks, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’ve done brand work on a number of start-ups and it’s hard. Hard, because there is often no product to evaluate pre-launch. No customers to interview. In the tech world you can work off user experience (UE) of the Beta or demo, but that’s not always real world. So how do you mine “care-abouts” and “good-ats”?
You follow the patent.
To receive a patent you must have a product or service that offers something appreciably different from what currently exists in the commercial world. Something worth defending. For most of my clients I like to follow the money but with start-ups, pre-product, it’s the patent. Start with qualitative, move to quantitative, maybe go back to quant, then get the founders to buy in. If they don’t buy in to the claim and proof planks, and I mean totally, you don’t have a brand strategy. Likely, you don’t have a business strategy.
Tags: Brand Strategy, brand strategy for start-ups, business strategy, care-abouts, claim and proof planks, follow the patent, good ats, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Some projects should never get off the ground. Last year NYC closed down a schools website called ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System). Parents, by and large, were not logging on to get their kids’ grades and test comments. Amplify, a usually smart education company, was paid $95M over 7 years (development by IBM) to build and maintain this well-intended, but flawed site. In fairness, they stepped in after the project was underway. Someone up front – at the strategy level – should have stopped this project before it started. Once the RFP goes out in instances like this, that’s not likely to happen. Before the RFP goes out — that’s when a business concept need to be vetted. Usually at a price of $1M for a project this size.
Next week a replacement site is launching called NYC Schools. According to the New York Times, the cost was $2M. And note the brand name. If a name needs an acronym, it is probably IBM-friendly not Main Street-friendly. Achievement Reporting and Innovation System? Oy.
Strategy before build. Strategy before investment. Strategy before hiring are all signs of good business acumen. Had Amplify not taken the job in its, then, current state, it would have saved the city time, money and improved educational outcomes. Had it said, “this won’t work” at the beginning, kids in college (or not) would be better off today.
Strategy, be it business or brand, is how smart business works. Invest in it. Peace.
Tags: a tale of two city websites, achievement reporting and innovation system, amplify, ARIS, Brand Strategy, business strategy, IBM and Amplify, whats the idea, whatstheidea
My sister recently did some consulting work for a small, quick serve restaurant in the Southwest. I’m not going to go into it very deeply – trade secrets you know — but suffice it to say that one of the partners in this little venture is a tad high strung …when he’s not low strung. He handles the kitchen and the customers seem to like him.
So, the restaurant ran out of potato salad and what does Mr. High/Low do? Does he say, “Sorry we’re out?” Nope. Does he send someone out the back door to Restaurant Depot for a bucket? Nope. He looks around the kitchen, finds a baking potato, throws it in the microwave, mashes it with a fork, adds celery, mayo, whatever, and bam — instant potato salad. Now I have no idea what this little side dish tasted like, and if it sucked bad on him, but you have got to like the creativity and initiative. The fact that he ran out of the salad to begin with says something, but so does the solution.
Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses. It’s what we do with them that goes in the ledger. If Mr. High/Low is allowed to put his creativity as a cook into the restaurant without having to do the things he’s may not be well equipped for, it’s probably a win. Can some of this creativity find itself into other parts of the business, that’s something worth paying attention to.
People, just like brands, are most likely to succeed if allowed to play to their strengths. Figuring this stuff out is the fun of business. Peace.
Tags: business strategy, consulting, hiring good people, managing people, Quick serve restaurant, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Today there will be lots of stories written about Leo Apotheker’s plight at Hewlett-Packard. And of the HP board, and potential replacements for Mr. Apotheker. One lens I like to look through when doing strategic planning is the “history” lens. When viewed over time – a long time – will the company, product or leader have made a historic contribution? Typically, that means looking at strategy rather than tactics.
In Mr. Apotheker’s case, it is clear to me that his PR handlers were at fault. His moves to purchase Autonomy, shed the PC and tablet business, and stop investing in WebOS were historic moves — looking well beyond the dashboard. One might say, and say accurately, that when you put a software person in charge of a mixed media multinational, the road to the future is paved with software. Mr. Apotheker saw deteriorating PC sales, reduced profitability in services (the cloud is getting not only bigger, but smarter), and device manufacturing (especially sans Steve Jobs) under enormous cost pressures. Think device kudzu. Rather than stay and fight for integration of solutions hard and soft around his OS — which code-wise may not have been ready for primetime and perhaps at risk from new OS pushes by Microsoft and Apple — he decided to retrench with eye toward the future. Very ballsy.
The cloud is the future. Device complexity will reduce over time and when it does, the cloud, run by software, will become the electricity of business. And that is where Mr. Apotheker was going. Sadly, he had a lapse in judgment and bad guidance and announced it at the wrong time and inelegantly. Como se billions in lost shareholder value? Some strategies (read historic) are better left unannounced. Is that not so, Mr. Jobs? Peace.
Tags: apple, business strategy, cloud computing, hewlett-packard, HP strategy., leo apotheker, Leo’s Brilliant Mistimed Cloudy Future., microsoft, pc sales, steve bobs, tech strategy, webOS, whats the idea, whatstheidea
On prompt, many company executive will tell you their business strategy is “Make more money.” Some invest to make more money others reduce the cost of goods. There are many ways to invest or cost-cut: alter the product, play with pricing, change distribution, promote in a new way. All are business decisions.
Ask that same company executive what their brand strategy is, though, and you may get a quizzical look. Or the quick parry “To provide customers with the best product, at the best price, with uncompromising service.” But that’s not a brand strategy, that’s the brand marketing equivalent of pasteurized cheese.
A brand strategy is created at a product’s molecular level. It is inherently product-based. A brand strategy grows from the product then gives back over time. And I’m not just talking “deposits in the brand bank,” I’m talking about informing product innovation, brand extension, expansion, even M&A activity.
A brand strategy is deeply rooted in the consumer — the consumer’s environment (physical and emotional) and needs (known and subconscious). Brand strategy is about growth and growth doesn’t happen without nourishment, environment and caring.
A brand strategy is a living thing. Not a business thing.
Business strategies are logical. They are easy to articulate. Brand strategies are psychophysiological. They are harder to articulate but have a pulse. And when right — they quicken the pulse. Peace!
Tags: Brand Strategy, business strategy, distribution, pricing, product marketing, psychophysiology, whats the idea, whatstheidea