A central component within the strategic overview is to see how a business can gain competitive advantages over their competitors in the market place. The aim isn’t to beat the competition, but to almost make them irrelevant. In order to do this five key questions need to be addressed:
You need to begin by asking what drives you, what the business is all about and what you’re actually trying to achieve. Where do you want to be in 5 plus years’ and are you committed to getting there?
Knowing your customers is key for any business. Information such as age, sex and geographic location are simple enough to ascertain but more in-depth metrics are required in order to develop accurate profiles of your target audience(s). You also need to know if you’re stocking the right products and are your services the ones your potential customers actually want. And finally, you need to decide on channels to market, and is your business based on face-to-face interaction or would a digital presence better?
Once you’ve identified your points-of-difference you’ll need to focus your efforts on making sure every single potential customer knows about them. You’ll need to find ways to get potential customers to engage with your business and buy into your products or services via marketing methods. And you’ll also want to look at what your competitors are doing well and what they’re not doing so well.
And always be looking through the customer lens – what is best for them, what barriers are there that is stopping them doing business with you or even in your industry.
Honing in on the core activities you need to do really well is a must, as is making sure they stay front-of-mind for your staff during the day-to-day. You also need to make sure you’ve got the right people and the right gear in the right places. Good execution is of course key to making sure things run smoothly and efficiently. And you need to know how to get in front of your customers, how to interact with them, and how to manage relationships and expectations.
Finally, you need to ensure you have the key roles, essential software, good systems and processes, and other tools you need to support your key day-to-day activities. You also need to know how to measure critical information about what you’re doing and how to interpret the data so it makes a difference to the ultimate success of your business.
Being able to answer these five questions allows you to develop the ‘secret sauce’ that not only makes customers think about doing business with you, but makes them want to do business with you on an ongoing basis.