The singular common thread in any business is to grow financially. Not all businesses have the intent to make a positive difference in the world. Some operate by means of transactional leadership with a reward and coercion model while others only want to focus on the goodness of hugs and feeling like they made a “difference” in the world. The first model mentioned above has its place in such industries that are considered evergreen but the question is, can they gain even more market share if they incorporated a more refined strategy?
Strategic positioning is not a new concept, but what is new is how the game is approached given the fact players have evolved. As tech grants us the opportunity to grow faster, many businesses rely on tactics and metadata dehumanizing brands. Numbers tell us spending habits and allow us to recognize patterns and sell based on those patterns. The problem with this is that it keeps a very narrow view blinding a business for other opportunities of growth. Circumstances change, global events occur, and people become influenced by society.
Companies that trend spot have a more flexible net when it comes to hitting quarterly financial goals. When we rely on the numbers alone we are playing the dangerous game of market comfortability where we aim for the status quo and have naivete as though we are untouchable.
In the “good ole days” customers had the opportunity to build a connection to a brand. They had time to process information. You could rely heavily on a market that wouldn’t jump to excuses of digital distraction. Today most businesses, especially young entrepreneurs are in the now now now mindset. Speed is essential but traveling at 200 mph comes with a dangerous risk. In contrast, if you only operate on outdated strategies you’re surely going to be forced off the road taking the next exit. Anyone who wants something too fast has just revealed the fact that there are underlying motivations to their need to reach finite metrics.
What’s missing from both approaches? Too many companies get caught in the tactic warfare of metrics. This leaves gaps with many questions not answered, but more so many questions that should be asked that are collecting dust.
What can we do right now that matters and what do we need to be looking out for? The answer is balance.
Here are 5 MUSTS when it comes to strategic positioning and finding your balance in business.
LEAD WITH INFLUENCE OVER AUTHORITY
Know your leadership style for your business at all levels.
The 6 bases of leadership are:
- Reward / Coercion – This is a transactional leadership that is based on a give and take model.
- The Expert – This type of leader is recognized as an expert which positions them to gain more influence.
- Legitimate Leader – This can be regarded as a leader of a position where they have the power to make decisions but this can become tricky if the person in “power” is more of a manager than a leader. It is efficient to a degree but leaves a lot of room for growth.
- Referent Leadership – This company or person is recognized as a “true” leader as they have been entrusted by those that regard them as the leader.
- Informational Leader – A company or person that shares their wisdom, experience and insight understands the value of giving to empower.
Know who you’re leading. Read the market data but don’t get stuck there. Communicate efficiently and be transparent. Trust has been a growing issue in all climates. Get to know your market on the ground.
Develop leaders, not managers. Empower and give tools.
Construct your own ideas on how your company’s environment or culture should be built on. Remove limitations such as social standards and politically correct constructs.
Get involved and serve as a leader in your industry outside of the office by helping, possibly contributing to a cause.
Be public about gratitude. Don’t over publicize it and use it as an opportunity for “exposure”. Instead of taking out a press release or curate the moment for media attention. Get involved and let others outside of your organization recognize it in their own way.
Be authentic. Stay out of politics or religion and define the core convictions of the company itself.
Upgrade your influencer circles. Align with other influential industry professionals, not just corporations. Collaboration with influential people changes the perception bridging a gap between you and your clients. When two corporations team up, customers can be left feeling like it’s just two superpowers looking to dominate.
STIMULATE THE BRAND AND CREATE EQUITY
Refine your brand strategy.
- Your brand although seemingly 2 dimensional is organic with needs changing over the years. Your brand needs to be refreshed every so often to remind people you’re still here, relevant and growing.
Stimulate the senses however you can. Utilize the 5 senses in your brand strategy.
- Sight: How do you stimulate a person’s vision? What graphics, colors and User Experience do you want them to have when they interact with you?
- Smell: This may seem more relevant for restaurants although there is an opportunity to find what smells are connected to your products through your customer. It’s connecting the degrees of separation that is the trick.
- Touch: Create something tangible. Especially if it’s digital. Break out of the box and get in front of people. If you have an app and let’s say that the app has a character. Create a physical mascot. Or send out paper invites with a special code. Don’t skimp on printing. You want someone to take a second longer to inspect what you just put in their hands.
- Taste: Involve this sense whenever you can. Taste is a different experience for everyone. Food unites us and in the US, it has become customary to share a conversation over coffee, dinner or even a giant pineapple with branches of other fruits growing out of it.
- Sound: From jingles to chimes, there is a third element most organizations miss completely which is using a dynamic language.
BUILD A CONNECTION AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS
Push conversations by asking better questions. Engage with customers and take the time to talk to people and build strategic questions so you can get the answers you’re looking for.
Take accountability. Humanizing your brand by embracing vulnerability shows your customers you’re open to growth. Plan ahead by having a crisis strategy if things do happen.
Care… Care about what you do and what you create. I worked with a photographer a while back and all they wanted to do was to just bill the hours. They really didn’t care about doing the job right and getting the best result. This diminishes the quality and expectations of the company and sometimes an entire industry.
Get personal. The numbers are great and necessary but brand equity doesn’t come from bottom line dollars alone. Those bottom line dollars are supported by how many people can get behind your brand. The strongest brands are connected to their audience because they have a shared belief. This is what makes Nike so successful despite how controversial it can be for many. Use the Essential 6 Strategy on building value with clients and customers.
CURATE THE EXPERIENCE. BE THE ARCHITECT YOU WANTED TO BE SINCE YOU WERE 10
What experience do we want our customers to have with the product, company, and partners?
Work with the end goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish and reverse engineer how you will get there?
Define infinite goals. What do you want your organization to do aside from reaching quarterly goals? This is where you build a bond with your clients.
Map moments and be 5 steps ahead and have a scenario for each one. Plan out the route you want to take and you want your clients to take.
Create milestone miracles. What can you do in between the major metrics that allow you to offer rewards along the way?
Slow down and develop both short and long game strategies. Know how to navigate the quick digital age but don’t get lost in it.
Make it easy to communicate and do it often.
Stay focused on your own growth and stop worrying about what the competition is always doing.
LEVERAGE AN EXPERT NAVIGATOR
A traditional approach to strategic positioning has its relevance in the world, but in many ways a lost art in a new era. Find the right team that can develop and carries out strategies in each area of your organization. You are strongest with the proper leadership sitting at the table with you. Maybe you’re sharing a cup of coffee or just opened that bottle of Bordeaux.