Businesses are thrust into the unknown every day, but as a boat doesn’t set sail without a map and follow a set course, a business shouldn’t run without a strategy, or roadmap, to guide it through the uncertainties that come with time.
Your business strategy should set new business priorities, outline your plans for growth and include a realistic roadmap with clear goals in place. You should:
- Think facts. You want to know exactly where your business currently stands. What’s the current situation? How’s the last 6 months or so worked out? What’s gone well and what hasn’t? It’s worth completing a SWOT analysis here to find the answers to these questions.
- Understand the purposes and values of your business. What are your mid to long term aims for the business?
- Outline your primary objectives. What changes need to be made now to ensure your purposes and values are met?
- Identify strategic objectives. These will highlight priorities and will aid in creating the plans that ensure the delivery of the companies vision in time. Make sure your objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related)
- Plan tactically. All strategic objectives can be turned into short-term plans which will include actions for all departments within your business. These plans effectively execute your strategy in short bursts.
- Manage your strategy. You must review all your action plans and objectives along the way to make sure you are heading in the right direction. You want to hit those goals after all.
Consider your customer
Your strategy heavily revolves around the People in your story; what they want and how to find them. If you’ve read any of our blogs centred around ‘Your Proposition’, you’ll most definitely notice a running theme; there is a lot to consider about people when building a business and building your proposition and strategy. At the end of the day, if nobody is around for you to solve a problem for, then who is going to become a customer? Who are you going to charge for your products or services?
Before getting into the thick of it, one of the first things that it would be useful to do, when considering what your typical customer looks like, is to check out the YouGov website: ‘YouGov Profiles’.
In their own words: ‘YouGov ’Profiles’ makes it simple to find and understand the audience that matters most to you. It gives you the power to build and customise a portrait of your consumers’ entire world with unrivalled granularity.’ Believe us when we say that this is a great place to start.
Where are the conversations happening?
Once you have identified the type of people you are solving the problem for, you need to think about where they are.
- Where are the conversations?
- Where do they socialise?
It may be a geographic business or may be an online business. There are different geographic and online places no matter what type of business you have.
So, where do customers consume your service or product? This is a very important part of trying to build a strategy around how to reach the people. Let’s consider this:
- It is safe to say that most things can be found online nowadays and if not they are almost certainly still discussed there. You need to find online communities where people share ideas and discuss the type of service or product that you offer. Is there an online community that you can build around your own proposition?
- There might be meet up groups for people that like what you are selling, or even better, for a particular type of it, allowing you to target more effectively.
- You might be able to target people through Social Channels on the type of product or service that they have already shown an interest in. This would be one area that you can start to build a bit of a strategy around.
- If people are geographic to your business, is it worth doing some geographic marketing as well? Obviously they have got to purchase, use or consume your product or service somehow.
The next thing to consider when trying to improve your business strategy is a skills Audit.
- What Skills do you have to go and find people?
- What’s missing from the skills you have already got?
It is really important to be honest about this, to give yourself a better chance down the line. It is easy to go and find people who have got the skill set that you need. Sometimes you can get help in these areas for free and sometimes it is costly. In the early days you might even try and build your skill set yourself, just to get you going, but it is important to know where the gaps are so you can understand where to fill them and start looking at how you are going to address any issues.
It is also very important to consider your competition.
For those who don’t know what a SWOT Analysis is, it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a really good way of thinking about your competition when it comes to your strategy and helps you gather those all important facts about where your business currently stands.
Here at The Cakemix’, we are interested in what makes you different in the types of areas you are in, or want to expand into, as this only serves to help us help you when it comes to building out your marketing stack and targeting the right people in the right ways.
- The people you are targeting
- The proposition you have got
- The areas you are in
- The skills you have got
…you have now got a really full picture of what is available, for you to go and address your market. A SWOT Analysis is a really good way of getting you ready to then address this market.
When you are thinking about competition, price, service, availability and innovation, ask yourself the following:
- Are you cheaper?
- Is your service better?
- Are you more available to other people?
- Is your product more innovative?
- Is it just a nicer way of solving the problem?
Think about these in the context of the USP’s that you have. You’ve also got to try and reduce barriers to buy. So make it easy for people to buy from you.
Why not make yourself a SWOT analysis and start to consider the important areas in terms of your business.