I have been working with 3 clients recently who all have a similar opportunity (which is my word for "problem").
They have lost clarity in their existence. Sounds bad doesn't. Like losing your eyes. And it is. They have been successful businesses too... in the past. They each have an awesome, well-structured business model. A business model I would be extremely happy to have because consultancy and services is actually pretty hard compared to product based business.
A straightforward operational cost and profit model. Boom ! Make money. Yay.
They do "X". They charge "Z"... They are experts in their field. They have huge experience... A reasonably respected brand. The business costs "C" to run... and they actually know, fundamentally how to make a PROFIT. But they are not. They are struggling.
So, why are they in trouble..?
Because even product-based business models need that extra 'oomph' and these businesses have lost clarity in their existence. But what does this really mean?
It means that........... They don't know what's making them special any more. Fear has crept in. The passion has been tainted. The audacity and energy they had 5 years ago has waned. They maybe have too many staff. Their overhead has bloated. They borrowed money instead of addressing core business failings. Now they have interest payments to make as well. The pressure is mounting. They made hasty decisions that backfired.
So, it's all become a nightmare. They're starting to look over their shoulder at the competition. They're considering downsizing at a time when the economy is on (a slow) recovery. They stop doing periphery activity and start concentrating on fiddling with their website. They're not converting customers like they used to. They stare into the headlights as they re-arrange the furniture and gasp for breath as they focus more and more on their problem and scream into the sky, "Why don't we have enough money !".
Time for a big slap
You get more of what you focus on. The more that relentless fearful pounding distracts you from the solution the more "not enough money" you will have.
What to do?
- Go back to your customers
- Find out why they kept buying (or would buy !)
- Discover your Value Proposition. Articulate it clearly.
- Build your brand around it and create a culture.
- Get Marketing
- Make sales
- Now do it all again !
Customer ->Proposition -> Brand -> Marketing -> Sales
Notice.... customer comes first.
There are only two destinations at the end of your marketing activity. Brand Value and Sales. And, hopefully, it's both.
If you don't have a brand story. If you don't have an over-arching powerful (i.e. valuable) Value Proposition and if you don't absolutely, truly, deeply know why customers come to you rather than someone else... then you can only compete on the 3 poisons of business:
And if you can't completely prove that your product is Better (and in many cases, it's not), you are on a hiding to nothing.
Anything else is just a furniture moving, fiddling, fiasco so focus on what you want... not what you don't want... and start with your customer.