One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how to refocus or rethink my business.
Something I hear people say all the time is that the pandemic has made them rethink things.
From a business perspective, I imagine for a lot of people that the pain of rethinking and refocusing their business is acute. There are millions of folks out of work or furloughed due to the pandemic. In the United States, we are seeing small businesses go out of business left and right. And, we are all struggling with having any idea about when will the pandemic come to an end.
I know that these aren’t normal times and trying to pretend like they are is a disservice to you and me, I do think the current business environment does provide us an opportunity to think through our businesses and ask ourselves how to refocus them and rethink what we are doing.
Here is where I have jumped off in my own thinking…spoiler, I’m going back to basics.
Target the right market:
One challenge that a lot of businesses face in any environment is the challenge of scope.
It can become seductive to try and be everything to everyone and to try and do everything that people are willing to pay you for.
The businesses that have big success have typically found a way to fight that.
One way is by being market-oriented and understanding what it is their customers value so they can focus on that. As opposed to being sales-oriented and focusing on making a sale no matter the cost to the organization.
In working through the pandemic, it is clear that all of us are going to need to stand out with a bit more courage because the situation has made it a buyer’s market and if you aren’t differentiated or targeting correctly, you are a commodity and that’s a tough hill to climb in any environment, but especially today.
So how do we target the right market?
Begin with the basics of market research.
What does your customer want or need? What does the competitive landscape look like? How are people in your market acting or reacting right now?
Then move to understand what the segments of your market look like.
Define your segments based on behavior or some clear definition of their actions.
Could be something like “heavy users” or “light users”. If you are in B2B, you might define folks by buying from a competitor or not.
Just define your market in a way that makes sense to you and represents their actions.
Then pick the one that is likely to see you have an impact and move you towards success.
Many businesses fail because they try to focus on too many segments at once. For you, right now, pick one. You might pick a small one with a lot of overlap to adjacent segments or you might pick one that is entirely unique. But pick one segment and focus your thinking and efforts on how to help them.
Position is a good thing to think about because it is really a code for making sure that your market thinks about you the way you want them to think about you.
After you’ve spent time with your segmentation efforts, you should know who it is you want to focus on.
Now you can effectively position yourself for that segment with a few questions and observations.
First, what does the customer want?
Second, who is my competition and how will I sell myself against their product or service?
Third, what can we deliver to this segment that is meaningful and valuable?
Your positioning matters because you need to drill down and look at the customer segment you are targeting, figure out how you are going to compete against your competition, and create an offer that you and your company can deliver on in a meaningful and high impact way.
Set some objectives:
This is the most challenging for a lot of people right now because we are all dealing with a certain amount of uncertainty.
That’s why goal setting is very important because it allows you to focus your efforts.
To properly set objectives, let’s use a basic acronym that folks are familiar with SMART.
Your objectives should be SMART.
Specific: Be specific in two ways. By focusing on your specific target and the specific goal you want for that target.
Measurable: Again, two things. A benchmark to tell you where you are starting and where you are aiming to be at the end of the year.
Ambitious: Let’s make this a stretch goal. Something that will make this goal worth your time.
Realistic: While the goal should be ambitious, it should also be realistic because you want to be able to hit the mark that you set. If you are consistently setting SMART objectives and not getting there, you become an unreliable source of information.
Time-Bound: How long are you going to give yourself to hit this goal?
Pretty simple stuff, am I right?
Dealing with the situation we are dealing with now may feel overwhelming. For me, dealing with the overwhelming often means getting back to basics.
These are the basics I start with. Maybe they will be useful for you as well.