Our goal with this article is to help you outline a business strategy that makes you a winner in 2020. You may wonder why a digital marketing agency would venture in the area of business strategy. But the reason for that is simply the fact that a well thought out business strategy can make a world of difference.
Very often, business owners come to us for help with their digital marketing. Typically the solution business owners are seeking is for us to manage Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) initiatives, Google Ads or Facebook Ads. In turn, this should then help them sell more services or products. The problem with not having a business strategy that distinguishes yourself from others, your successes won't be as spectacular as when you do have a plan.
Off course, digital marketing will still benefit you when you do not have a clear strategy. But your successes could be 10x more significant if you have a digital marketing plan that is informed by a clear strategy.
As it turns out, if you spend more time on this, you might and up with a better business strategy. A simple way to defining your business profile is to start positioning yourself on strategic paradigms. A paradigm is an apparent opposition between two concepts. You can choose whether to place your business on one of either end or somewhere in between the two. The more you emphasise an extreme on the scales, the easier it is for your clients to identify your value proposition. We recommend you to take notes when you answer the following questions so that you will end up with a clear picture of your business profile in the market.;
What is your pricing strategy; are you going to market yourself as the cheapest, the most expensive or somewhere in between? How does your pricing strategy exert influence on your positioning and how does it influence what your clients can (reasonably) expect from your business?
Will your business be the service provider that has the quickest turnaround, significantly faster than your competitors? If you sell products, either custom made, freshly made or off the shelf, can you find ways to deliver to your clients quickly?
How easy and frictionless can you make it for your clients to procure your services or products, so that they can save time and effort?
Can you find ways to promote your business to your clients, in a different - more frictionless - experience than others in your industry are doing? This dimension is related to the above 'convenience' but has a slightly different connotation.
For instance, your promotional strategy can rely on an introductory offer that you provide to potential clients, usually at a minimal fee.
Another way is by using a third party to do the sales and distribution process. At the same time, you focus on the production of quality products (such as selling via Amazon) or food (selling via Uber Eats). There are similar avenues available for services-based industries.
For a services business, a different strategy would be to take the position as the thought leader in your industry. Being the thought leader can be advantageous for law firms, consultancy, architects and many more.
Can you find ways to enhance your product or service in such a way that it stands out comparatively from your competitors? Increasing quality could either refer to adding functionality, better or sleeker aesthetics or better product specs. Applied to services, you could think of offering high-value add-ons to a reasonably standard service, for example.
You could also pivot your products and services in such a way that they add to the lifestyle or provide self-expressive qualities to your clients. The reasons why luxury brands can charge significantly higher prices is because they provide a measure of status and self-expression to their clientele. You'd expect the quality to be high in those situations too. Still, the quality itself doesn't warrant such a vast price difference between the luxury brand and the top-end below that league.
You will notice that positioning in one aspect will likely influence and sometimes force your choice in other dimensions. But that is not always the case, however. Often it pays off to be different.
You may find yourself limited in freely deciding which position to take in the dimensions described above. And you are correct; choosing your strategy this way stimulates your creativity and relies on the outside-in approach. After doing so, you take a detailed look at your business model and organisational capabilities. It helps you discover ways to organise internal processes to be able to deliver the value according to your strategic positioning.
You could also use the inside-out approach, where you first look at the organisational capabilities and then choose which strategy fits and most likely helps your business succeed. Both are valid methods.
We would suggest working back and forth, starting with the outside-in approach and following that up with the inside-out process. And then back again to the outside-in process, etcetera. This way, you will allow yourself to be imaginative and to create edgy concepts without too many constraints.
If you find yourself stuck because of constraints in your current organisation and business model, focus on the most desirable differentiators from a strategic point of view. You then define how much time, money and specialised skills you would need to apply to your business model and processes. When you find that this results in an unrealistic plan, then it's back to the drawing board.
Once you have finished this process, you will have:
Developing business models, operational processes and strategic thinking is a little outside of the scope of this article. If you are interested in learning more, I can highly recommend the Udemy course by Evan Kimbrell "How to come up with killer business ideas". It's a top-notch course about pivoting business ideas and creating business models.