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A Strategic Approach to Better Business Results

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)
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As the Rate of Change Accelerates...

Oscar Wilde described a cynic as “someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” For business leaders this is no laughing matter. Organizations that understand how customers perceive value can create, deliver and communicate it better than internally focused / financially managed firms.

(HBR July 2007 “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline” by Robert H. Hayes & William J. Abernathy)

 With a strategic approach firms can avoid financial speculation and get back to basics we know work:

  • Use existing assets as efficiently as possible.
  • Replace labor and other scarce resources with capital equipment (automate)
  • Develop new products and processes that open new markets or restructure old ones.  

With more business failures in past decade than the entire previous century these fundamentals are critical to sustained success especially in a time of networked technologies that enable stunning new capabilities. Companies that intend to remain viable must have a sound strategic plan with operational alignment.

Wikipedia defines strategy as” a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty…to attain and maintain a position of advantage over adversaries through successive exploitation of known or emergent possibilities rather than committing to any specific fixed plan designed at the outset.”

Managers competing in volatile uncertain markets like eCommerce retail order fulfillment know the online market is harsh. If basic customer expectations are not met buyers will not return your website that includes things they expect you to know but may not know such as including a return shipment label. Moreover they can broadcast negative experiences; “United Breaks Guitars” has now been viewed nearly14 Million times.

According to survey data from Internet Retailer “Winners are increasingly separating themselves from the pack. Web-only retailers in particular, are taking market share, and it’s not just...Amazon.com.”  

The world’s most successful firms use proven tools and methods to understand what customers want and today that includes how they inform themselves about firms who have capabilities that align with problems they are trying to solve. Findings from a 2012 Google B2B survey indicate” On average, customers progress nearly 60 % of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales-rep.”  

The world is changing rapidly but firms can remain viable by understanding what customer are trying to do and helping them do it. SEO will help them find you but it will not engage them in a process to do a job they are tasked to do. The time to improve the marketing and sales process is now.

Managers must know how their total offering compares against competitive alternatives; what advantages can be exploited, what weaknesses must be addressed, and what to leave alone. Customer value metrics can enable strategic navigation through uncharted waters for your organization.

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