Aligning Your Corporate Culture with Strategy | Extraordinary Business

The harmony between corporate culture and its wide reaching implications to strategy and output has become central in all successful companies. There is a very particular correlation between  people that make things happen and your company’s financial performance, as explained by author and keynote speaker Brent Gleeson. Gone are the days when employees were just supposed to follow orders from “up top”.

Today, businesses that truly “get it” depend largely on factors such as continuous learning, openness in the workplace, consistent engagement, creative problem solving and a unified mindset to propel into the future. Traditional leadership tactics have become grossly redundant.

President and Co-Founder of WebpageFX, William Craig, states that organizations can only achieve big when they immortalize these values and integrate them in all levels of hierarchy from the leaders in the boardroom right down to the overall work culture.

A company’s reputation, its goals and legacies primarily depend on what’s going on behind all the work the people put in – all the numbers they churn up. It is the culture of an organization that defines its future.

Strategy can never be of any use unless there is a powerful force of culture backing everything up. When you’re offering benefits to your workers or awarding them a performance bonus, there is always culture at work there.

Take a Long and Hard Look at Your Company and the Kind of Cultural Message it Resonates

So many promising businesses fail because leadership ends up jack hammering strategy upon strategy instead of first balancing the overall ambience and culture.  It isn’t surprising that they think culture is an autonomous process, which is far from the truth.

CMO of Live Possible, Peter Ashworth, maintains that culture is primarily about taking care of people who help build your legacy. And to do more for them in order to increase your footprint throughout the globe with your services and products.

Do you really believe that a multinational company such as Starbucks thrived and excelled just because of their coffee? Nope, it wasn’t “just” their coffee that made people drive in groves to them. It is their ambience, their culture and environment that has people hooked.

people

Ask yourself this, what frame of mind would you rather your employees take home after they’ve been sweating blood and tears at the end of a difficult week? A) A feeling that they’re just meant to work hard like donkeys all their lives? Or B) Going home feeling they’ve contributed an intrinsic, intangible part of themselves working for a leader that truly cares about them and will always remember them?

Instead of sending your employees home with a paycheck every month, why not focus on sending them with something more than just money – an experience, a realization that they’re making so much happen at your company.

True Innovation Comes With This Realization

The core element of a business strategy is your vision as well as the culture of your vision. You have to look beyond procedure, beyond data and numbers. You have to select meaning over measurement.

As per a survey by Booz & Company, organizations had 30% enterprise value and an enhanced profit boost of 17% after they had streamlined their culture with their vision and business strategy.

Sadly, 36% of companies admitted their overall strategy is poorly aligned with culture and approach as an organization. And 46% stated having a brittle and failing culture, which did not support their strategies in any way.

Reflect on your organization’s mission. Peer into whether it has a deeper purpose defined. Join heads with your managers and employees in bringing values into every meeting. Let your team as well as customers define true values and influence the definition of those values. That is the only way you will constantly evolve and keep moving forward; the only way to perfectly align your corporate culture with strategy.

Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a small business operations and strategy consultancy that exists to help small business owners CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. She specializes in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below.

We’ll help you streamline systems and processes, implement software, refine business architecture and ensure the company has a solid structure it can grow on.
If you are ready to discuss how Aepiphanni can help you with business strategy, overcoming challenges to growth or any number of business solutions for your business, whether a small, growing or established company, contact us directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.



business strategy

9 Crucial Things to Consider When Building a Business Strategy | Extraordinary Business

Apple and Amazon, the two trillion-dollar companies in the world, are known for their superb business strategies and how they tie their strategy to their vision. A well-thought-out strategy is the crux of every successful company. When you are building your business strategy, you need to consider a lot of crucial things. Let us take a closer look at 9 elements that should impact your business strategy.

1.    Long-term Goals

By its very definition, strategy is a long term plan. Its purpose is to achieve the company’s long-term goals. A such, you should be crystal clear about these goals and objectives. Without this you cannot build a long-term and realistic strategic plan. Strategy expert Ann Latham talks about the importance of strategic focus and clarity.

What kind of products and services does your company want to focus on? Which markets do you want to dominate and enter? Are there any new activities that you want your organization to be involved in? Questions such as these should be answered before you can create a business strategy.

2.    Opportunity

Some opportunities that don’t exist today may be available in the future. A good business strategy is built by people who can anticipate opportunities down the road. Amazon operated at a loss for many of its initial years (albeit stocks kept rising). But it was part of the plan – the strategy –  as Jeff Bezos saw the opportunity and profitability that laid ahead.

You may need to collect more data to support your identification of such opportunities. You should also diagnose any risks you anticipate as you pursue those opportunities. Suitable mitigation plans should be created to address them.

3.    Innovation

You need to make sure your products and services remain unique with well-defined differentiation. And they should be aligned with your business. When Apple launched the iPhone, arguably its biggest stride in innovation, the company dropped the “Computer” from its name Apple Computer. The new iteration, simply Apple Inc. was perfectly aligned with the strategy of the company to become not just a computer company, but a consumer electronics company.

4.    Competition

A competitive strategy is a good strategy. Professor and consultant Enrique Dans highlights the importance of controlling your company’s competitive advantage. If you are planning to enter a market, it’s best to choose one that is underserved (or not served at all), without considerable competition. Being the first one in a market has huge advantages and entering such a market is a good example of building a competitive strategy. It primes your company for building a bigger and better brand.

5.    Economies of Scale

Ideally, your business should benefit from economies of scale over time. And a good strategy should account for this advantage. If it works for your business, lower your prices while being innovative. When you offer unique service features and quality customer service, the economies of scale start turning in your favor as you attract a large customer base.

6.    Time to Market

business strategy

Have the build vs. buy debate. If it’s more cost effective to buy part of your products or services, do that. Time to market has a huge impact on sales, market share and profitability. As such it should be given due attention as you create your business strategy.

7.    Failures and Risks

No company is without failures. The most successful companies learn from their mistakes and assess all risks when creating a new business strategy. So use your insights gained from failures, learning from your past to improve your future. Consultant Russ Alan Prince breaks down the process of learning from business mistakes for future success.

8.    Tests

You need to review and update your strategy periodically. This ensures your strategy is valid and relevant. Market needs and company objectives may change with time and your strategy needs to reflect these changes.

9.    Stakeholders

Once you finalize a business strategy, share it with all your stakeholders, starting with employees. Explain how the strategy related to them. Create a separate plan for external stakeholders such as partners, investors, suppliers, customers and industry analysts. Let them know what your company is doing, why it is doing it and how it will affect future revenue and shareholders’ value.

All in all, a business strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. Encourage all your “strategy people” to consider the elements discussed above as you set out to craft a new business strategy. Sooner or later, a well-thought-out strategy starts paying its dividends.

Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a small business operations and strategy consultancy that exists to help small business owners CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. She specializes in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below.

We’ll help you streamline systems and processes, implement software, refine business architecture and ensure the company has a solid structure it can grow on.
If you are ready to discuss how Aepiphanni can help you with business strategy, overcoming challenges to growth or any number of business solutions for your business, whether a small, growing or established company, contact us directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.

 




Why Every Company Should Be Considered a Tech Company | Extraordinary Business

company
The concept of a “tech sector” is fast becoming outdated. In many ways the idea is already a relic of the past. And at the same time, the idea behind the tech sector is stronger than ever. The notion of technological prowess has been infused into all parts of the economy, cutting across all business sectors. From construction companies to equipment manufacturers to transportation companies, every company can be considered a tech company.

Renowned data journalist Jon Bruner notes that as software goes beyond the boundaries of monitor and keyboard, it becomes a bigger part of every business. This is the basic reason why every company should be considered a tech company. And it isn’t just software. Hardware and software collide to result in enhanced core products and services for companies that wouldn’t strike you as a “tech company.” Technology is being used to add intelligence to things that weren’t intelligent. It’s a way to optimize both physical machines as well as processes.
In most companies, technological capability impacts operational capability.  This trend continues to grow, causing companies to have to be more responsive with their technical capability and more technologically savvy internally. Just sticking to “IT outsourcing” won’t cut it anymore. Companies need to develop and maintain technological expertise at their core, even if they outsource a lot of their tech-related operations.
Agile coach and consultant Tirrell Payton writes about how most successful companies have little separation between their technology strategy and business strategy. Technology is ingrained in everything they do. When they develop this competitive advantage internally, it effectively becomes a tech company in an important way. By doing this, the best in business drive speed and innovation, infusing their technology leadership with business leadership.
This cross-pollination of business and technology has also altered customer expectations. In today’s digital-first world, if you’re not at the top of your tech game, however that may apply to your company, it will in some way result in you losing your customers. From developing top-notch products to offering exceptional customer service, it’s hard to imagine a business goal that you can achieve without mastering some relevant technology.
CNBC’s Technology Products Editor, Todd Haselton, talks about how even luxury brands are becoming tech companies. A good example is Hermes teaming up with Apple for Apple Watch.
All in all, every company needs to master technology not just to grow, but to survive. The digital age is driving more companies to be described as a tech company, regardless of what their products/services are. Think about how you are utilizing technology at your company. If you haven’t done this for some time, or at all, sit down with your CTO and discuss how technology can play a bigger role in your business. You might be surprised by some of the things you unearth after that meeting. This “tech mindset” may very well translate into a higher bottom line and a better loved company.
Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a small business operations and strategy consultancy that exists to help small business owners CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. She specializes in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.
We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.




technology

4 Ways Technology Continues to Revolutionize Business Strategy

Accelerating Returns

Technology doesn’t follow a clear straight line today, it touches and changes everything. It improves and revolutionalizes business strategy exponentially, bringing about growth to all it touches. When applied in the business world, you get accelerating returns instead of linear advancement. As Greg Satell, a former SVP at Publicis Groupe and Co-CEO of KP Media notes, ‘accelerating returns is the new economy‘. Let’s take a closer look at four ways that technology can strengthen and elevate the new destination of your business through the coming year.

Quick response to changes in the market, using new software and hardware developed to send information directly from consumer to the manufacturer resulting in faster turnaround of market knowlege, understanding the ‘collective wisdom’ that the information provides across the global economy, and the abundance that is becoming the truth of today around the world economically through technology.  Visualize your business plans not as a string, but as a garden full of lush, branching vines. These are but four of these ‘vines’ and as a foundation they make your business stronger and more adaptable to both times of growth and rest.

Because of quicker profit reporting and information flowing from the point of sale to the manufacturer, business strategies today have a shorter shelf life. What once took months to see now takes only a few days. Technology is changing the world too quickly for one “great business strategy” to encompass decades of vision. Whether it’s the head of a division or a visionary CEO at the very top, technology today impels them to be more adaptive instead of chalking out a rigid grand scheme and sitting on it. Much like a healthy garden, your business must be easily adaptable to new technology, changes in the market, needs of the consumer, financial drought, or excellence in marketplace that require more production.

Consider the fact that in 10 years, computers will be 100 times as powerful, but a thousand times more powerful in 15 years….and a MILLION times as powerful in 30 years. And it isn’t merely about computers. Similar exponential growth is seen in areas ranging from medicine to energy. With proper investment and planning, technology will not only be saving more money, but saving countless lives.

Global Economy

There was a time when innovation was limited to a certain place and time. While this is still true to some extent, technology has largely blurred geographical lines. For instance, although Silicon Valley still rules the technology landscape, there are other hotbeds of innovation spread across the world. One of Apple’s largest competitors isn’t in the same city, but a world away, in South Korea. Many of the world’s fastest growing economies are based in Central Asia and Africa.

The reality is that technology has connected everyone, and this has a dramatic impact on how effective business strategies are defined. Consider the fact that over 4 billion people are online. That’s about a third of the world’s population. Technology has enabled “normal people” to communicate and collaborate through different time zones. As a result, reverse innovation has become a big thing in the world of business strategy. Like a healthy, branching ‘vine’ covering the world, one-third of the world’s population are connected to each other, sharing experiences, opinions, and ideas.

Collective Wisdom

Although great individuals continue to impact our world, technology has enabled collective masses to make a bigger impact than ever. Teams are trumping stars, movements are overshadowing dynamic leaders. This also impacts the way businesses operate and how they create strategies to achieve their goals and objectives. Businesses are putting more emphasis on the collective wisdom of many, instead of just relying on the charisma of a few. This respect for the increasingly connected workforce and the audience they’re trying to reach continues to revolutionize how business strategies are defined and executed.

The list of things that computers can do better than humans continues to increase rapidly. Successful businesses adapt to this trend, creating and tweaking their business strategy accordingly. For a business to ‘bloom’, utilizing the latest technology and trends is the smartest way to reach the highest customer base globally, both directly and by interpersonal ‘word of mouth’.

Economics of Abundance

fibre optic cable

Despite all the literature about dystopian futures where the swelling population of our beloved planet turns it into a nightmare, it hasn’t turned into a reality. People have been writing about this for decades. But none of those dark futures came to be. Despite the larger population, the world is dramatically less violent, richer in general and better fed. We are much better off by any given standard. But since good news doesn’t sell as well, we don’t hear about this so often.

How does this impact business strategy? It does by destroying the “economics of scarcity”. From natural gas reserves discoveries to vertical farming to automated manufacturing, abundance is defining our world more than scarcity. Bill Gates was asked to be a guest editor for TIME’s January 2018 issue, which he made about “Optimism”, putting a 5 year-old Ethiopian boy on the cover, signifying a much better child mortality rate. You have technology to thank for that, and smart companies will learn the lesson of building their strategies with an optimistic mindset instead of a scared one. The ‘roots’ of that healthy garden make new plants (or technology and customers) grow, keeping the economy and your business growing.

In the final analysis, the most effective business strategies will be the ones that stay on top of the ever-changing world thanks to technology. Revolutionizing business strategy is one of the many things technology does and smart companies will continue to read the evolving landscape.

Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. She specializes in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.




strategy

Successful Strategy Made Simple | Extraordinary Business

strategy
The first step towards making good decisions is simply to stop making bad ones. The same principle can be applied to developing business strategies. In order to stop following bad strategies, you must recognize the absence of good strategies. Richard Rumelt gives a great example of how to define a good strategy. He states that a good strategy has “coherence, coordinating actions, policies, and resources so as to accomplish an important end.” (Rumelt, 2011, p.11). Fortunately, business has provided countless examples of good and bad strategies that provide unofficial guidelines for the do’s and don’ts of strategy making. The following are examples of tools and methods that any company can use to identify, build, and sustain good strategy development.

The Kernel

Richard Rumelt says that every good strategy has at its core, a kernel, or solidifying structure that supports its required actions. Every kernel should consist of a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and a set of coherent actions to make the strategy successful and sustainable. The diagnosis defines a challenge and should seek to simplify the complex reality of a situation by identifying “certain aspects as critical” (Rumelt, 2011, p.77). The next component is the guiding policy which is an approach to overcoming the critical challenges or obstacles identified by the diagnosis. The coherent actions are the plans established to coordinate organizational efforts to follow the guiding policy. To help identify, establish, and achieve these aspects of a strategy’s “kernel”, it requires a great deal of input from multiple perspectives.

The Conflict

There is unavoidable friction and conflict that arises when multiple perspectives and frames of references are synthesized. Conflict can be used to stimulate debate and innovation which is what is needed to help identify the core issues (i.e. determine the diagnosis), and to create a viable comprehensive plan of action (i.e. create a guiding policy) that can be coordinated and carried out across multiple organizational levels (i.e., implement coherent actions). This stimulated debate is one of the important benefits of brainstorming.  Good conflict that arises from brainstorming sessions can be used to form a strong diagnosis of the company’s current strategic position in a market or industry (Price, 2017). The question then becomes, how can a strong diagnosis be formed using multiple, and often conflicting, perspectives?

The Tool

Using the Eisenhower Matrix would be a very helpful tool to help identify and prioritize which decisions should be made. The following diagram is the Eisenhower Matrix that can be applied to any decision-making or resource management situation to prioritize issues.

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is essentially a time management and issue-prioritization tool that can be used to help decision makers identify between what is urgent and what is necessary when looking at multiple perspectives during strategy and policy making. The Eisenhower Matrix is designed to make work more efficient by prioritizing strategically relevant goals and objectives based on importance and urgency. It allows an organization to review multiple issues simultaneously so that the realistic resource limitations (i.e., what a company can and can’t afford) of the organization can be listed and a proper hierarchy of objectives can be implemented. Once a proper hierarchy of objectives is defined, an organization can more effectively and effectively reach its overall organizational strategy.

Megan Miller is an Associate Consultant at Aepiphanni, specializing in the fields of marketing, organizational development, and entrepreneurial strategy development. She has an MBA and a Doctorate of Business with a focus on International Business from Liberty University. Megan is currently active in article publications focusing on knowledge management in small and medium-sized businesses. She researches the topics of entrepreneurial cognition, international entrepreneurship, environmental scanning and knowledge acquisition processes of business leaders.
Megan’s professional goals are to help small and medium-sized businesses become established and increase their competitive ability as a means for improving local and regional economies on a global scale. Megan has a passion for teaching and training young women to become successful in achieving their career goals. She currently works with the Wellspring Living Organization as a volunteer in their Women’s Academy to help educate women coming out of human trafficking and domestic violence lifestyles. She also enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures with a particular affinity for Ireland and Italy.
We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary Company.




content

What Vs. How – Content Strategy Vs. Content Marketing

People often interchangeably use the terms Content Strategy and Content Marketing. Some people even merge the two together and call it content marketing strategy.  So what’s the difference and why does it matter? Simply put, content strategy (the WHAT) should always define the goals and the content marketing tactics (the HOW) are used to achieve those goals. Depending on the size and structure of a company, content strategy should always support the overall sales and marketing strategy and/or be aligned with the overall business strategy.

One analogy that helps people understand this important difference involves a bridge. Visualize that strategy is a bridge that is built to get from one side of a business or organizational “chasm” to the other side. The bridge needs pillars (goals) to support getting from Point A across the bridge to Point B. The deck (mapped with tactics) is used to cross the bridge.

See if this scenario WITHOUT a “bridge” sounds familiar…the content marketing group/person is busy executing action plans, creating content calendars, writing, posting, updating, etc. Everyone knows how industrious marketing people are with all their energy and vast skill sets! So many tools and ideas…so little time.

And then it happens. Quarterly reports are due. Dashboards are updated. The marketing group/person worked diligently to meet deadlines and produce the numbers. The number of updates, posts and likes.  The number of blogs written and products promoted. The ads, e-books and infographics were so creative. Their efforts are impressive!

Now, here’s where life as a content marketer gets real fuzzy and frustrating, real fast. The company owner or sales and marketing executive looks at the “impressive” numbers and asks, “How many leads did you get? What are the sales conversions?”

Unfortunately, this is a typical conversation and it’s fraught with disappointment for both sides. It’s a waste of time to even create an editorial calendar (a tactic) without knowing WHY a certain industry topic, service or product should be included or excluded in content marketing tactics.

The “bridge” approach fully aligns the content strategy with the overall strategic goals. Because content marketing tactics are focused on strategic goals, the results can be measured by agreed upon KPIs. Once the strategic sales and marketing plan or business plan are known and understood, the foundational work for the content strategy begins.

Look at and monitor key competitor websites and social channels to get a solid understanding of their content strategy (or if they have one). Review industry press releases and editorial calendars from trade specific media and publications.

Begin talking with key people within the organization such as a sales director, a product manager, customer service reps and technical support reps. Anyone who directly interacts with customers should be able to provide insights about upcoming industry trade and association events; product/service upgrades, releases and launches; and the most commonly heard questions and answers from existing customers and prospects. Cross-functional research and one-on-one interviews with people responsible for other business areas is mission critical to verify that content marketing opportunities are timely, relevant, relational and engaging.

Additionally, interviewing and listening to key customers is a great way to gain perspective that can be shared in content marketing when findings are strategically aligned. After the internal and external collaborations are complete, the next important step is gain consensus with the top level decision makers on the strategic business goals that marketing can positively impact with an aligned content strategy.

Learning the business and/or sales and marketing strategic goals and completing the discovery to gain insights allows the content strategy (WHAT goals to achieve) to be aligned before content marketing activities begin (HOW to achieve the goals).  All of the sales and marketing results will be more meaningful with a content strategy that truly supports the bigger goals.

Theresa R. Harris is a content strategist and digital marketer at Aepiphanni with 20+ years in the digital marketing space. Her experience has evolved along with explosive marketing technology growth, but she maintains a practical business sense on what to explore and leverage to benefit clients as we help them CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. Her focus on content strategy allows her to improve digital marketing results by identifying gaps. Theresa has helped over 100 small and medium sized business strategically align sales and marketing messages along the communication continuum which have been delivered in a wide variety of content marketing approaches.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.




thought leadership

Thought Leadership’s Journey to Brand Awareness

In the last two articles, ‘Importance of Thought Leadership for Corporate Growth’ and ‘Your Company’s Thought Leadership Has Eluded Business Development Success’, we focused on thought leadership. We talked about the importance of thought leadership for corporate growth, while also looking into factors in which a company might miss out on the benefits of thought leadership. In this article, we’ll discuss the connection between thought leadership and brand awareness.

Co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co., @johnhall, talks about how thought leadership strengthens your brand and humanizes it in the eyes of your customers. At the end of the day, people want to do business with people, not companies. Thought leadership offers you the perfect opportunity to personalize your brand.
Every CEO and marketer knows that consumers now have easy access to information online. They can explore their issues and evaluate their options for resolving these issues. Nonetheless, the fact remains that buyers still need assistance to find the solution they’re looking for. Smart CEOs and marketing experts realize – buyers don’t “buy” a company’s product or service. They actually “buy into” a company’s perspective and approach to solving their problem.

As buyers connect with your company’s thoughts and ideas, they start to trust you and consider you a reliable source and brand. This makes your company and its services more likely to get shortlisted in your buyer’s minds.

thought leadership

This is where thought leadership comes in. Thought leadership is about sharing your unique point of view via insights and ideas. The right execution of thought leadership will spark new debates, discussions and inspire action. These ideas and their execution form the core of your brand which is experienced by your target market.

As social media marketing strategist, @RKusemiju, notes while marketing and thought leadership are both very effective in building brand awareness, thought leadership is much rarer. It follows that companies who are big on thought leadership enjoy a level of brand loyalty and subsequent financial success which overshadows their competitors.

While marketing can often be simply entertaining, thought leadership builds a much stronger brand by being educational and provocative. As companies across different industries struggle to differentiate their brands, thought leadership becomes more critical to their ability to stand out and drive their business.

So as you can see, thought leadership’s journey to brand awareness always begins with the business leadership having a big vision and their ability to deliver something new on a specific topic. This makes customers and clients feel your business is capable of offering something none of your competitors have ever offered them. That’s the power of thought leadership in building brand awareness.

As business leaders share their insights, the target audience perceives that company as having higher value. This invariably translates into a stronger brand loyalty and therefore a more robust financial performance.

Regardless of how you define thought leadership, it will always form the core of your business’ communications strategy. By capitalizing on true thought leadership, you can inject a new life into your brand and maximize brand awareness.

Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. She specializes in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.




Market Segmentation

Market Assessment Series: Part 5 | Extraordinary Business

Question 5: What are the different market segments? Do we need to enter in all or just a few of these segments? Which segments are expanding and which are shrinking?

Market segmentation is a crucial part of a marketing strategy, especially one being utilized when entering a new market. In this fifth part of our market assessment series, we’ll discuss the importance of market segmentation.

You should start off by identifying the different market segments. Entrepreneur and investor John Rampton points out that better data enables better customer segmentation. Same is the case with market segmentation. So put your marketing team to work and identify those segments.

A market segment is kind of a market in itself. Once you have identified the market segments, how do you know which ones you should enter? Just like you should ask the 8 questions in this series before entering a market, here are some questions you should ask when sizing up a market segment.

  • Is it substantial? Sales value/volume is usually the metric used to measure a market segment. Good market research will reveal a segment’s size. This will tell you whether a segment is worth the time, efforts and resources of your company. For instance, there’s no point in a segment with insignificant spending power.
  • Is it accessible? Consider the ways in which potential clients in a market segment may be accessed. Judge these ways to determine whether any of these can be considered your marketing department’s strengths. Remember, segments can respond differently to different approaches.
  • Is is differentiable? An ideal market segment is one that is internally homogeneous, meaning all the people within that segment have similar characteristics and preferences, and externally heterogeneous.
  • Is it actionable? An actionable market segment is one that has practical value, meaning it should provide data that lets you build your marketing position and sales approach. And the outcomes of these should be easily measureable.

Market Segmentation Pie Chart
Lovrenc Kessler, Managing Partner at Simon Kucher & Partners emphasizes the importance of integrating segmentation across the board. So write from the beginning, communicate to your employees why segmentation is necessary. E.g. tell them you will be able to quickly tell which customer has potential and deserves your company’s time.

Knowing whether a segment is expanding or shrinking is also crucial. On one hand, you may realize that its better to enter an expanding segment a little later. On the other hand, you might dismiss a shrinking segment that has an unstable customer group and is likely to disperse or even change beyond recognition in a couple of years.

You should also link the segmentation to clear actions. Don’t fall for the notion “Every client is important for us.” All customers are important, yes. But clients with larger potential should command more time and attention than those without further potential. Segmentation helps you identify which is which, ultimately helping you prioritize your production and streamline your sales approach.

Any differences between the segments must be defined clearly so highly targeted services and campaigns can be directed towards them without any overlap. According to Larry Myler, Founder and CEO of Monday Inc., you can sell more to selling to fewer, as a direct result of effective market segmentation. After all, successful market segmentation is part of an overall successful business strategy.

Fatima Mansoor is a writer at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. She is a freelance blogger, specializing in business & entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and health & fitness. Her focus is on creating compelling web content for small and medium businesses form diverse industries. She mostly writes for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies across the US, Australia and UK.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an extraordinary company.




Execute! Review, Adjust, Execute! | Extraordinary Business

Signals of the best time to visit or revisit your company’s strategy.

Galaxy S III Commercial

Samsung Galaxy S III launched a new television commercial right at the time that Apple’s iPhone 5 came out.  This commercial could not be more strategic.  They recognized that Apple is a very powerful brand that would hurt the Galaxy III’s sales.  Their marketing team created an approach to address this head on.

As you can see from the commercial, things change in the business environment all of the time.  Some will be incremental, such as an increase in vendor pricing or losing an employee.  Some are major, such as a new, bigger competitor, changes in technology or market interests that could potentially make your product or service obsolete.  In both cases, in order to stay in business and remain competitive, you are going to need to act.  But you need to act appropriately.

In order to get better at business – to grow, expand or even prepare the business to sell, you are going to need to invest time, plan and additional resources in order to do so.  In order to get the greatest benefit from the resources you will invest, you are going to need to plan strategically.

This doesn’t necessarily mean putting together the 3-5 year growth plan for the company, but it could mean planning incrementally, as Samsung did. It doesn’t necessarily mean planning for the whole company; it could be developing a sales or marketing strategy – which typically impacts the rest of the organization – in order to increase sales to hit the sales goals you have for the company.

Typically, I recommend working on your strategic plan during the third quarter of every fiscal year.  This gives you the ability to look at what you have done for the year, projecting what you will do for the year you are working in, and make plans for growth during the following year.  However, for specific events, or approaching events, the time is now!! 

Keep in mind, this isn’t simply a matter of checking your tea leaves or throwing out some wild uh guess about what the future will look like.   This is stating specific goals that you would like to hit by a certain timeframe and determining how you will hit them.

If you recognize a new competitor, what specific steps will you take to maintain or grow your position in the marketplace?

If you want new product offerings, how many do you want per month, quarter or by the end of the year?

If you want to open a new store, by when do you want it?

If you want to increase your staff, what positions and by when do you want them employed?

As you can see, these are threats and opportunities that could happen at any time.  If you wait until the end of the year, your company could be put at risk and you could potentially lose market share or be put out of business.

Always think strategically and act aggressively.  Samsung has absolutely set the bar.  Separate from the pack of just existing; build your company into an extraordinary business.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses.  We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth.  We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.

Join us for a 30-minute complimentary Coffee & a Consult, to learn more about Aepiphanni and how we might help you move your company from existing to extraordinary.

Technorati Tags: strategy,strategic planning,business growth,business strategy,strategic thinking,competition