A framework for refining your business + brand strategy
The essence of business strategy is choosing what not to do.
Business is never static: the minute you meet a milestone, the bar rises and another challenge looms. So it makes sense to revisit your business + brand strategy as your business grows, to ensure they’re right for your current stage and where you’re headed. Whether you’re a startup or a small thriving business in growth mode, here are several aspects from a business strategy perspective to consider when evaluating your business. While we aren’t expert business strategists, brand + business strategy are highly interdependent and we’ve found these areas important in brand positioning work. They’re part of the framework we use in building magnetic brands for our clients.
Identify The Problem
Your business is not about you, what you like to do, or what you want from it. It’s about your customer and the problem your business addresses. Now is a great time to underscore the problem you fix. Often businesses might start out solving X but evolve their offering (based on customer feedback and needs) to offer something different. It’s helpful to assess and clarify what problem draws your customers to you and what they feel you solve.
Clarify Your Solution
It’s simple: if your business doesn’t solve a problem for your customer, you will fail to attract customers. You need to get specific about how your offering is the solution to your customer’s problem. Draw a direct connection between the two. Consider how your solution is different from your competitor’s solutions.
Find Your Target
Understanding your target + their underlying motivations is fundamental to business success. If you do not have a target market that is engaged by your solution, you do not have a business.
- Identify your target customer and their pain points. Why do they have this problem in the first place – why haven’t they solved it on their own? What pain points that make them look externally for a solution? What about your solution makes them choose your brand over others?
- Pay attention to resistance. Are your customers fickle? Welcome to the human condition. As David Ogilvy famously said: “People don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say.” Your target customer might say one thing and hesitate for an entirely different (and often psychological) reason, so pay attention to actions over intentions.
Know Your Competition
From Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy: the more competitive the market environment, the harder it is to make money. Here are things to keep in mind:
- Assess the competitive landscape. Evaluate your competition and their offerings. How competitive is the industry you’re in? How are your competitors solving your customer’s pain point in a way that is different from your approach? What value do they bring that’s different from the value you bring, and how can you protect your brand from their threat?
- Consider new entrants and/or substitutes as part of your competitive landscape. The railroad industry failed because they didn’t consider new entrants / substitutes – aka airlines – as a threat to their offering. Today, disruption is such a regular occurence, so it’s essential to explore how technology may be creating alternatives that address your customer’s pain points.
- Consider also barriers to entry for the market you are in. If the barriers to entry are low, the competition will be high so you’ll need a clear unique value proposition that differentiates you from the rest.
Own Your Unique Value Proposition
A unique value proposition highlights the value you bring your customers and distinguishes you from the competition. Assess your strengths and weaknesses; what is your core competency? What makes you different? What’s your brand personality? These questions are firmly in brand strategy territory but they are also essential in clarifying business strategy.Define your unique value proposition. A helpful reality check: there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States alone, so your business probably isn’t unique… but your unique value proposition can be. How do you approach your customer’s pain points? How is your solution different from what others provide? This post can help you zero in on your value proposition.
Clarify Revenue Strategies
The majority of us are in business to make money, so your business needs to have a revenue + growth strategy that supports your business and allows for growth. This includes:
- Pricing. What is your pricing model and how does that compare to your competition? What does it cost you to produce your product or service against what you are pricing your service at?
- Scale. How does your business model allow for scalability? How can you leverage new technologies or approaches to increase opportunities for scale?
- Revenue goals + expectations. How are these targets set? What is the strategy behind increasing growth?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals for the company? Is there an exit strategy – e.g., merger or acquisition?
Once all of these points have been considered, business strategy is also deciding what not to engage in. Consider your competitive landscape, and consider your brand’s core competency. What are your brand’s strongest opportunities for driving growth? What business should your company turn away from because it detracts from your core strengths or isn’t a good ROI? How can you uniquely address your customer’s pain points in a way that makes your brand the obvious solution?
These are fundamental questions that drive business and brand strategy and help position your business for optimal growth. Connect with us to discuss how we can help make your business magnetic to success.