By Cliff Findlay
Businesses that want to grow in an ever more competitive marketplace must have a great product and a visible point of difference. Alongside this it is important to have a clear message to impart a transparent internal strategy that has an obvious chain of command.
Internal clarity has to come first. We all know the end point is to increase sales and profitability but before we get there we need to identify who the potential customers are and what their specific needs are. This is alongside a concise understanding of what the business has to offer its clients together with its unique place among potential competition. This is core in order to increase profits in a competitive and demanding marketplace.
Create engagement with the heads of the company and request they stop; To take a breath, pause and review the current situation. Establishing an understanding of what the business strengths are in comparison with the competition is crucial. Many companies start with a business plan but that may well have been created 5 years previously and has not been looked at since. This is often the case in what is after all a rapidly changing marketplace. That's why the starting point has to be a time to re-evaluate.
This allows for the examination of key strengths. Businesses need to be sure they can correctly identify their key strength. After all, we are often too close to see the wood for the trees. It's not just about what brings in good revenue streams but also what brings in new business and what keeps customers singing praise. What may have started as a sideline and even a by-product of the brand offering may well now be the number one driver of a business.
Looking at best practice across the company is a very valuable service. For example ensuring that the sales team really are answering the needs of customers when going for sales is vital. Are the team listening to customers’ needs clearly enough and therefore able to ensure the closing of a deal? Misunderstanding the needs or concerns can mean a lost sale, so effective communication through talking, listening and being able to act appropriately is imperative.
Delve into how much time team members spend talking and thinking as well as acting. Do colleagues allow enough development time? Looking at time structures is crucial especially as there are always time limitations in all businesses. Helping to define a correct balance in order not just to maintain, but also to grow, is core to looking at an established workplace and its potential growth streams. Without development time there is little potential for growth. Implementation of best practice within every sector of the company and at every level across the business aids efficiency.
Once the process of defining what a business does now and how it may have grown or can grow in the future, implementation of best working practice now all points to the very specific need of communicating with potential clients. Clarification of brand messaging is a must. This clarification ensures communication materials sent to potential clients highlights the very best of what the business has to offer and presented in a congruent and precise way.
Accurate brand values are great however, an important point almost before this clarification, is what are the company’s core values and how have they changed. Also these core values must add real value in the current marketplace, which again goes back to what was in that initial business plan; What has changed? Not just during this refining process but especially since the growth of the digital workplace.
In a marketplace that is extremely competitive proposing brands must hold strong to their price point and not be seduced into offering discounts just because the competitors are is important. Every business that holds quality as key need to be able to effectively communicate this. They must convey concisely that they hold firmly to their price points, and what they are delivering to their clients, includes no shortcuts, and no lowering of excellence.
A conversation to assess what hurdles have not envisaged is also an area to research. When things are going great guns it’s hard not to look for potential problems. But awareness of potential pitfalls means being prepared.
Creating a stand out message in a global marketplace opens up new accounts and new territories. Where UK based companies once may only be competing for UK business now need to be universal. As much as a brand is competing worldwide so is the competition hence the need for a stand out message. It also means looking at how to adapt a brand vision for different territories ensuring brand messaging is relevant.
Ultimately brands need to be prepared to follow through. However good new ideas may be, the bosses ultimately have to get a flow-through to the whole team in order to implement change. I love to work with these kinds of clients, the ones who know they need change and want the support and advice in order for them to embrace change and ultimately grow to future success.
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