With this three-pronged system, you can create a sustainable business strategy
Your business plan might look good on paper. But we don’t live on paper. We live in a world where the most sought after asset is value
An effective business strategy has three parts. One part involves knowing who your target audience is. You truly know your audience when you can make decisions for them, says Tim Ferriss. But just knowing your audience is not enough to formulate a strategy.
Your offer is another significant part. It must be one which your target audience cannot ignore. If you know your audience well enough, nothing can stop you from designing an irresistible offer.
Right. So you now know who your target audience is and have designed an irresistible offer. Sales should now flow in. Right?
Not really. You’ve just completed half the process.
The third, and most important MO of an effective business process, is the approach. The approach ensures your offering makes the expected impact in your customer’s mind.
An approach has two components: marketing and sales. Many times, a single person might conduct both functions. That’s why, understandably, many people confuse both functions as one. But they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The difference between marketing and sales
Marketing generates interest in your customer’s mind. It informs your customer that you exist, and creates an image of your brand. You subtly promote your offering without asking for a sale. Marketing is often defined as the art of selling to prospects not in front of you.
Sales converts interested prospects into paying customers. It’s a direct request to your prospect to pay for your offering.
Marketing sets the platform up for sales. Sales brings in revenue. Marketing is covert and does not involve a monetary transaction. Sales is more blatant and involves money. Marketing might turn your target audience into interested prospects. Sales might convert interested prospects into paying customers.
Hence, marketing and sales are different. And these functions (should) exist in all businesses.
How your approach contributes to your business strategy
As mentioned above, marketing and sales constitute your approach — the third component of an effective business strategy.
Here are a few steps to formulate a potent approach:
Identify where your customer segment is. Where it sits, eats and lives. For instance, if you target Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the SME Chamber of Commerce and networking associations are good places to start. If you want to target manufacturers, reach out to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). If you sell beauty products, you can find your audience in shopping malls, kitty parties and other meeting places.
Where can you find your customer segment?
How does your customer segment prefer being reached? You shouldn’t just be where your audience is. You must reach them using the language and mediums they prefer. For instance, if your audience reads regional newspapers, advertising in a large publication is less effective. If your audience is young, Facebook is a powerful medium to reach it. If your audience needs reassurance before buying, influencers who impact their buying decision are effective.
Tally adopted a brilliant strategy when they took off. The company distributed its software free to all Chartered Accountants. They bet on the hope that the CAs would make their clients buy their software to get data in a Tally-compatible format. The ploy paid off rich dividends. Soon, Tally became a household name across corporations and chartered accountants.
How can you reach your customer effectively?
Which message resonates best with your customer segment?
Your message creates your brand’s image, and is often devised in your marketing plan. Which pain points Does your offering address? What does your offering help your customers gain? How does your offering help your customers get things done, thus increasing comfort or giving them an edge?
Use these answers to create your marketing message. Make your customer, not your offering, the hero in your message.
How will you make your prospect a hero?
Two common blunders in the approach phase
A common blunder businesses commit while forming an approach is waiting until the message is perfect. Don’t commit this mistake. Go one-up on your competition. Put the message out, and then collect feedback.
Successful businesses follow this approach. They recognise that forming the perfect message involves time, testing and optimisation. They collect feedback about the message from their customer segment. Emulating this approach is a safe yet compelling technique. If your customers don’t respond to your message, connect with them proactively and solicit feedback. Kaizen — constant improvement — is important. But it doesn’t mean you must hold back on outreach. Because this drains your business of precious time and resources.
Another common blunder is trying to sell to everyone. The common saying goes, “If everyone is your customer, nobody is your customer.”
Businesses also fall short while creating a positive impression in their audience. A luxury brand which cannot sync the concept in its prospects mind through the sales team will flounder. Such brand representatives should walk and talk luxury.
Your business plan might look good on paper. But we don’t live on paper. We live in a world where the most sought after asset is value.
If you offer peanuts, you’ll attract monkeys. But if you offer value, you’ll attract humans. Value isn’t just the price someone pays for your offering. It’s the perceived benefit which they achieve when they engage with your brand. It’s essential for you to create value in every aspect of your offering and approach. Where and how you engage with your audience, the message which conveys your offering’s viability, and the image of your sales team, should all create value.
Only then will a good (or even mediocre) on-paper business strategy translate into a good on-ground strategy. After that, efficiency, sustenance and growth is only a matter of time.