Strategy is one of those words that is thrown around constantly in business and one that is much too often used synonymously with some tactical aspect of your business. But strategy is a pretty simple idea that says one thing, where does my business need to focus its attention.
For most of us, thinking about and setting a strategy can be a time consuming and overwhelming exercise. And, one that if we aren’t careful about can lead to futility, frustration, and lack of action.
The key to an actionable, targeted strategy is to make it simple.
Over the years, I have developed and refined a simple framework that can enable you to complete a strategic planning session in the matter of minutes or an hour at most. And, it is simple enough that if you wanted to, you could revisit it constantly with little to no pain on your behalf.
In fact, it may even be wise to run your thinking through the framework any time you encounter a challenging decision or crossroads for your business.
The framework boils down to 3 simple questions:
1. What value do I want to create for my target market?
In too many cases, we start out by looking for a problem that might need a solution or we start chasing around what someone is willing to throw scraps at us about. But the fastest way to a successful strategy is to determine from the start what is the value you are looking to create.
What is it that you really like to deliver for your clients?
What is the one thing you can do that none of your competitors can do?
What things give you the greatest opportunity to do your best work?
2. Who can use this value and will buy it?
Sales and marketing is the key of any business.
That’s so important that I want to say it again…
Sales and marketing are the keys to any business.
And, so when you are selling a product or service, you have to be conscious that not every person or organization is a good fit for your product or service. Not everyone is going to appreciate the value you provide.
And, another thing about marketing and sales is that they are freakin’ tough!
So it is pretty essential that you spend time understanding and defining both who can use the value you are creating and who will be willing to buy it.
First, by defining the people that can buy what you are selling, you are able to identify a pool of potential prospects.
Second, when you move to the part about people that will be willing to pay for your services, you narrow your focus down so that you spend time only talking with people that have an immediate impact on the buying decision.
Third, you want to figure out who the ultimate decision maker is as early on as possible and start at the top as much as possible.
Because you want to spend as much time speaking with people that can say, “yes” and not people that can only say, “no.”
3. What do I do to reach them?
This is a complicated way of asking, “where do I spend my marketing time?”
In a lot of cases, we get well intentioned and bad advice like: “you have to be on Pinterest” or “you should try Facebook ads” or “I hear a lot about Twitter.”
This list can include almost any form of marketing and advertising that you want to think about.
It will also be a pointless list because it isn’t brought to you with any kind of context to improve the likelihood of success.
When you are thinking about spending your finite amount of marketing and sales attention on your market, it is essential that you focus.
If you are selling to CEOs, you likely want to find out what they read, who influences them, and how best to reach them.
This might be things like conferences, referrals, networking opportunities.
If you are selling a mass market product, the focus of your marketing efforts might be different. You might like to use direct mail, targeted web ads, commercials and video preroll ads, and things like that.
The key is that you understand your value and the buyers you are looking for so that you don’t waste time, money, and energy on methods that are unlikely to reach the target buyers you are hoping to connect with.
That’s it, if you focus on these 3 questions…you can quickly and effectively turn around your strategic direction or answer the question about whether or not your focus is in the right place.
Let me know how you use these questions to help you…