Learn more about the areas we found to be most influential in developing sustainable business growth:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
From Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
The essence of business success is a good strategy, executed well. Of course, there is more to it than that, but companies often find themselves so caught up in the day-to-day that they lose sight of what can really help their business grow. Strategic planning sounds as easy as defining your goals and then clearly describing how you will reach them.
And yet, companies aren’t always strategic with their planning. It could be because they are too busy firefighting immediate issues or have gotten complacent with their current situation. Sometimes it’s the result of not knowing the most effective steps in a strategic planning process. And occasionally it’s the result of a fast-moving, ever-changing environment that makes any kind of planning seem impossible.
An outside voice can help get clarity on the current situation, identify gaps, and generate options that can fill the gaps. From that analysis, decisions can be made on which options will create the best map for a company’s growth. And strategic plans don’t have to be static. They are most useful when they take into consideration the certainty of change.
Some of the strategic questions that are considered during the planning process:
We have helped create and optimize strategic plans for a wide variety of companies, from start-ups to divisions of global enterprises. Examples of outcomes have included new facilities, product line and technology acquisitions, geographic expansion, and investments in sales and marketing. With the variety of our experience, we can facilitate a process that meets your needs and addresses your unique challenges.
42% of all startups fail because there is no market need for the product (1)
Overall, 30,000 new products are introduced each year and 95% of them fail! (2)
There are a few main reasons for these failures. One is letting the technology lead the parade. Just because you CAN make a product, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. The second big mistake is not understanding what customers will actually buy. Just because you like your product doesn’t mean anyone will pay for it.
One of our team once worked for a company that was by far the market leader in its space, with excellent products, a strong reputation and great growth. They wanted to expand, and so, being the experts, they spent a year developing a new product and proudly launched it! And no one bought it. Whoops! Then they stepped back and actually asked customers what they wanted, which is what they should have done first. After spending more time and more money making modifications, they eventually ended up with a great product that their customers loved.
The good news is that it’s possible to avoid these pitfalls by utilizing a Customer Discovery process. “Customer discovery” is about really understanding your potential customers. It’s a process that puts the customer at the center. The better you understand their needs, their pain points, and their challenges, the better you will be at creating a winning solution.
Whether you are a start-up, mid-size company, or a substantial company, we can help you craft a strategy for your customer discovery that meets your budget and circumstances and is effective at focusing your efforts on what matters to your customers.
(1) CBInsights, The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail, November 6, 2019
(2) Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Is it better to be the first to market with a disruptive technology? Or to enter a known market with an incrementally improved product? Or to provide me-too products for a much lower cost or a much-improved customer service?
And the answer is … it depends! How you choose which products to invest in depends on your strategic plan. What are your goals, and what do you bring to the game? Once that’s decided, your success hinges on the development of your offering. There are a lot of questions to be answered. The obvious ones are around the “what.” What does it look like? What features should it have? What is the cost target? When does it need to be ready?
Less obvious questions are around the “how.” How should we set the specs? How should we run the development process – in quick sprints or with gated stages? How much documentation and support are needed from the beginning? How can we accomplish all the “whats” in the desired timeframe?
Scope creep is one of the biggest derailers. Continually adding new specifications during development can easily over burden the project. And yet, we often can’t know everything ahead of time. Choosing the best product development methodology for your situation can accommodate these challenges and make a big difference in the cost and time to get to market.
We have experience developing products in a start-up environment, as well as running well-funded product development organizations. As a result, we can help you assess your unique situation, develop your product strategy and the best approach for implementation.
When you look at the dark side,
careful you must be.
For the dark side looks back.
“I have technical roots. I got my degrees in engineering and spent 10 years designing products. What a pure endeavor – using technical skills to create complex solutions to problems. Noble! Virtuous even!
“And then my career took a ninety degree turn and I found myself in what I used to call the “dark side” – sales and marketing, that crass, commercial part of business that deals with money. Over the course of the next twenty years, I learned just how critical those aspects are in business, and importantly, how to apply business and commercial skills for success.” Janet White, Senior Partner
There can be a lot of aspects to a successful commercialization strategy. If you have physical products, decisions need to be made on logistics - where to store them, how to ship them. Next up is to figure out how potential customers will learn about your product -- your marketing strategy. Marketing is all about capturing attention, educating, and generating interest. Will most of your marketing be on-line? Tradeshows? Events?
You will also need a selling mechanism. Can you take orders in a completely automated way on-line? Or do you need a person to be involved, for example to execute a custom contract? Consider the importance of face-to-face interactions as you determine whether you need a sales force, and whether they need to work for the company or whether you can use distributors.
And don’t forget about the customer after the sale. Supporting and servicing your products are critical to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Perhaps you already have all those elements in place but just aren’t getting the results you want. Adjusting your sales and marketing mix might be needed, or tightening up your segmentation or your positioning, or analyzing your pricing – these are all just examples of areas to optimize.
Having worked on both sides, we are able to shine light onto your commercial strategy and bring it out of the dark. Our experience helps you make informed business decisions about how you can best commercialize your products.