Are You Ready to Grow Again?
by Mark Towery, Managing Director, Geo Strategy Partners
Refocus; Retool; Recover. Your go-to-market strategy and business model need to be revamped to match the current economy's competitive landscape. To re-energize your product and drive sales, hone in on the hidden motivators of your customers and examine what has changed in your market sector. Geo Strategy Partners shares their insights for strategic positioning in this economy.
A number of economists have predicted recovery in the third to fourth quarter of 2009 with slow growth through 2010. Firms that have become more efficient, more focused, have used this period to strategically position themselves in the right markets with the right customers will benefit. Those that have merely survived will find the recession lasting longer for their organization.
Now is time for leading companies to focus on the three "R's": Refocus; Retool; Recover. Let's take them in reverse order.
With or without government intervention, markets run in business cycles: expansion follows contraction. However, it is an economic reality that some sectors will recover faster than others. The recent market correction will have a transformative effect on specific sectors- moving some into long-term decline and others in the opposite direction. New sectors will emerge as growth engines. Public sector spending will create near-term opportunities for some firms, but the private sector presents specific opportunities as well.
Most likely, your go-to-market strategy and business model are geared for the economic expansion of 2003 - 2007. The reality is that different sectors will fuel growth in the 2010 and beyond economy. Customers' buying behaviors will change as different value drivers emerge and the competitive landscape shifts. Mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies by customers and competitors will shift the playing field at the same time that material prices and global demand change pricing economics.
Customers may be open to new innovative suppliers. Acquisition and new market opportunities may emerge. To be ready to compete, you need to retool your business model. The place to start is a reassessment of the competitive landscape and the first step in creating sustainable competitive advantage is to strategically position the organization for growth. Then you need to formulate and implement a go-to-market strategy. More progressive clients are currently looking to strategy consultants to help them strategically reposition for growth; develop winning go-to-market strategies; and to carry out strategic acquisitions and divestitures. The first step, however, is to retool.
A growing market conceals a lot of sins. During the recent growth curve, sales and marketing initiatives may have gotten a little sloppy. Nothing highlights inefficient operations or ineffective efforts like a contracting market. Companies that survive a downturn in the strongest position will be the ones that listen, anticipate needs, and focus fanatically on serving customers. When sales slow, it is essential to make the effort to listen to customers and then sharpen your sales and marketing tools accordingly with the right messaging and right solutions.
A first step to revamping and re-energizing sales and marketing initiatives is to understand the Voice of the Customer. Qualitative and quantitative research techniques help clients elicit both articulated and unarticulated customer demands. Because customers sometimes say they value one thing while actually choosing suppliers that offer something very different, we employ methodologies to analyze hidden motivators as well as stated ones.
We also examine customer satisfaction and customer loyalty: important future sales indicators in uncertain times. We rank value drivers by the minimum required to compete (the cost of entry); those that are crucial to create a differentiating competitive advantage; and finally those that our clients can capitalize on to drive brand preference; an extreme version of customer loyalty. While it is always important to understand your customers, right now it's paramount.
As we approach what we hope is long-term recovery, now is the time to think strategically and ask fundamental questions. Which market sectors will be growing? What has changed in the competitive landscape? What will drive buying decisions? Where should I invest my sales and marketing resources?
Market research services can help clients determine the best markets for products and services. Techniques include building detailed market attractiveness models, rating and weighting the market opportunity on one axis against a variety of attributes (including client internal strengths) on the other. Models can be simple or highly sophisticated but at a minimum they require secondary market research, primary executive interviews with customers, influencers, and specifiers, competitive intelligence, and strategic analysis.
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