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For Small Business Owners and Leaders
I probably don’t need to tell you, it is not uncommon for market and/or customer research to result in uninformative or somewhat random data or information that is unactionable. Why? Most often it is because we aren’t asking the right questions. We aren’t asking questions that are truly important to the customer relationship. This post will describe how to ask the most informative questions.
Re-watching one of my all-time favorite TV series – The West Wing gave me some thoughts about how we run our businesses. We often get into a situation where we are managing what comes up. Getting along. And (if we were being honest with ourselves) being mostly reactive and certainly uninspiring. But what if we got our organizations focused on some big, bold, impactful goals for the next 365 days?
When people think about planning for their organization, they most often think “Business Plan -> Startup”, “Strategic Plan -> Established Company”. And in many ways that is true; but not exclusively and not necessarily for the reasons they think. It’s not so much a “new company” vs. “mature company” thing as it is a “Who’s my target audience?” thing. The decision depends on what you are trying to communicate and to whom. They are definitely not the same or interchangeable. Know your purpose and you will know which plan to build at a given time. So which one do you need? The truth is, you need both – or a hybrid.
Not too long ago I was helping a client with their strategic plan. They told me they had a really good handle on customer/market knowledge. And I made the mistake of taking them at their word – without proof. As we moved along the process, it became clear that they didn’t. And it really limited our success. I won’t make that mistake again! Your strategic plan must have market intelligence as its foundation. Don’t skip it. Don’t skimp on it. And don’t ignore it. Internalize it as a core principle of your organization. Make market intelligence a central part of your strategic planning process.
und. Yes, of course we need guide for our future. The clarity that will come from developing and implementing a strategic plan will be invaluable to our team. And then….nothing. Or a half-hearted attempt to create one ensues and peters out. The truth is that while the organization could greatly benefit from having a well-developed strategic plan, the effort needed to create one is often greater than expected. And that’s where things go wrong. There are some important elements that need to be in place before you jump into building a strategic plan.
Too often an organization does a customer feedback project to hear and understand what customers think. What we’ve observed is that almost all the time that organization fails to finish the entire project by “closing the loop” with the customers. This can make a big difference in your relationships with customers. This post will tap about how to “finish strong”.
You can strategize all you want. You can design all the best customer experiences. You can develop a creative, fun, engaging brand identity. But one minute with the wrong customer-facing employee will make that all come tumbling down. Don’t let that happen to you. Hire the right people to deliver your brand to your customers in just the right way. And, no, that isn’t always very easy to do.
A struggling economy. Troubles in your industry. Challenging times in your target market. At some point or another our organizations will probably face difficult times. (I would argue that for many organizations, now might just be such a time.) Your job as a leader is to keep your head and manage through is. Better yet, you should be prepared for it. One critical place to begin is to focus on cash management. So, what are some ways to go about that? Here are a few suggestions that you should be thinking about to strengthen your organization’s cash position.
After working with and observing numerous corporate and nonprofit organizations over the years I have come to believe that one of the most impactful things we can do as leaders is to work with our teams to define a strategic path toward a bright future…together. Get a strategic plan in place this year and you will be making great strides toward your employees’ satisfaction and your organization’s future growth.
Do you have customer feedback on the agenda for 2019? (Hint: you should. Hint number two: It should be on your list every year.). Having conducted tons of customer feedback studies over the years, I’ve identified several things that I think can make or break a study. In this post I share some thoughts with you about how to make the most of your customer feedback efforts.