Farnaz on Featured, New World Strategies

Bring Strategy & Vision to Life – 6 steps to get started

Why do so many companies and entrepreneurs with great products and services fail to deliver success?  Is it lack of strategy and vision—or lack of knowing how to “execute” a strategic vision in the marketplace?  Hint:  maybe both.

Fast Food companies offer the same products with incremental differences in price and ingredients.  Ethnic restaurants offer mainstream brand names and menu items that have nothing to do with their unique positioning.  (I’m sure Dallas residents have seen quite a few Persian restaurants with Italian brand name, signage and décor.)  Social media agencies and entrepreneurs all call themselves social media experts.  Which one should we believe or prefer?  Media companies chase after the same story and sensationalism, so flipping through new channels feels like watching reruns.  Even airline companies, such as Delta, promote trust and integrity as their brand values, with no concept on how to execute these values.

We’ve been numbed to brand promises never kept or delivered.   Many companies claim and promise universal values such as, trust, honesty and integrity …. But which one is delivering and how?  Challenge is lack of decisiveness and know-how on the execution of these values in branding messages.  Values stem from our beliefs, and our beliefs grow from what we see, hear and experience.  It’s all about execution and delivery.

No doubt, future growth and profitability will come from a different way of doing business in the New World Marketplace.  Here are 6 easy steps to get you started:

1.  Define your strategic differentiation

Strategy is not about being the best, whether it’s operations excellence or best practices.  Strategy is about being different.  Strategy is just as much about what not to do as it is about what to do. It’s a combination of benefits and trade-offs that your brand offers, differentiating you from the competing alternatives in the marketplace.  Trade-offs are essential to strategy.  They create the need for choice and purposefully limit what your company offers in order to have a clear differentiation and competitive advantage.

2.  Determine your strategic priorities

Trying to be all to everyone is like being nothing to no one.  Are you trying to promise and deliver efficiency, high quality, low price, innovation, superb customer service, high profile/image and fastest to market—all at the same time?  Can you?  Focus and prioritize your strategic execution.  High-performance companies tend to focus on one or two primary strategic priorities, and they align their culture to support them.

3.  Align company culture with strategy

Your company culture must be aligned and fully focused on your strategic priorities.  Achieving and sustaining this alignment long term is the biggest challenge most organizations face in achieving business success.  When culture and strategy align, both people and functions work toward a common goal and purpose.  Definition:  Company culture is a set of shared values, beliefs, causes, assumptions and behaviors that reflect how a business strategy is executed.  The key to effective execution is having everyone in your organization internalize strategy in their daily thinking, actions and behaviors.

4.  Choose your customers

Many companies need to re-evaluate their existing target customers, based on the 3 major macro trends in The New World Marketplace.  More importantly, remember that strategy is about which customers and which needs.  You can not effectively communicate to your changing customers, unless you carefully choose which customers you can deliver and execute specific needs to.

5.  Align your company values with your chosen target customers

Businesses must appeal to the values that their target customers hold dear, and they must also know how to express those values in branding messages.  This means aligning your values with those of your chosen customers, believe in what they believe in.  I call this marketing to the inside not outside of the customers.  Customers don’t just buy what you do, but why you do it. Most companies know what and how to sell…but they don’t know why.  Like it or not, customers decisions are emotional, and you must engage them on an emotional level to change their minds and behaviors.  This is a different way to interpret reality than rational levers of facts and features.   Pick and choose the emotional values that you can and know how to truly deliver on, and then communicate it.

6.  Communicate

This is, and should be, the last phase of strategic execution.  More often than not, companies of all sizes jump to the communication phase without completing the prerequisite steps.  Nothing hurts the company performance more than communicating a branding message that is not consistent with your strategic differentiation and priorities.   Bringing your strategic vision to life in your communication tactics is not easy.  If you don’t know how, you should consult with an expert and make the best use of your marketing dollars.  Otherwise, you’re confusing your customers while your competitors are getting it right.

 

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My Book Coming Soon….Value of Service


Happy New Year! Yes, I know….I am late for both my happy new year wishes and bimonthly blogs. Truth is, I’ve been busy finalizing production details with my publisher and gearing up for a busy season of consulting and speaking. But I wanted you to be the first to see the layout of my book cover: “The New World Marketplace – how women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future.”

I am super excited and will be rebranding my social media platform once the book is in the market in a month or so.  I will also provide updates on book signing events and speaking gigs, and hope to see you in my travels.

In keeping with my commitment to share a New World Marketplace update in each blog, I’d like to tell you a bit about how constant cost cutting during economic challenges can drive new product innovation and quality of service into the ground. While cost cutting is an important discipline in any business model, it should never be at the expense of quality and service—which are the revenue drivers. You can choose to drive profits from the front end, or the back end. Your call. But if you choose the latter, remember your competition is putting new products out in the market faster, and offering better quality and service. At the very best, you’ll end up as a mediocre company with mediocre products and services.
And how long do you think that will sustain you during a recession?

Earlier this month, I decided to end my 7 year love affair with my Audi TT and get a hybrid car. So you can just imagine the pushy sales tactics that I had to overcome online, and by phone just minutes after a click, before I even entered a car lot. I ended up with a Lexus hybrid CT 200h. Sure the product and price was the best fit for me, but it was the service that sealed the deal. Lexus products and prices are not that different than other high-end competitors, it is the service that is their strategic differentiation. Think about this: what type of price or cost do you allocate toward great service? OK, Audi didn’t have a hybrid, but I left because of their inferior service to begin with. Do you think I’m really that unique? And what if low-mid price brands offered luxury service? Wow…that will be one recession-proof brand….!!!

Gen Y’s strong affiniy for hybrid cars are leading us away from traditional vehicles. They also prefer cars that are an extension of their social media and digital lifestyle…and willing to pay for it. This is good to know regardless of what products you sell. It’s about keeping up with the pace of the New World Marketplace.

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Beliefs, Causes and Values

I use a unique emotional and cultural framework in my consulting and speaking business that revolve around beliefs and values.  I thought it’d be a good idea to share a short blog on this topic with my loyal readers.

Beliefs are the assumptions we make about ourselves and others.  Convictions and concepts we hold to be true, with or without evidence.  How we expect things to be, what we think is true and real.  Our beliefs grow from what we see, hear, experience and think about.  And beliefs manifest in what we say and do.  They are the basis for decision-making and drive consumption behavior for businesses, as well as how we communicate and relate with others.

Our values stem from our beliefs.  Values are about how we think things or people ought to be in terms of qualities and guiding principles that are important to us – such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, trust, openness, freedom, peace, happiness, empathy, compassion, equality, faithfulness, etc.   While some values are universal in unanimous global agreement – such as honesty, integrity, peace – many values vary based on culture, religion, and beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned.

I’ve seen many companies post their values on their web site.  Some even mark leadership, innovation and customer focus as values.  And why not.  They are beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned.  But I’d ask….are your values aligned with those of your customers and relationships that are important to you?

If you have any intentions to grab a piece of the $2 trillion marketplace that is multicultural and youthful where women have become key players, you may want to consider these values as thought starters in your cultural and emotional frameworks for marketing messages :

  • Multicultural:  Trust, Acceptance, Respect, Understanding
  • Women:  Trust, Equality, Thoughtfulness, Service
  • Youth:  Inspiration, Creativity, Freedom, Adventure

Yes, there are more…and with commonalities.  Find them, communicate them, but most importantly, be honest and authentic about them.  Your fans will know the difference.

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It’s 2011, do you know who your customers really are?

Happy New Year.  There is something truly exciting and profound about the start of a new year.  A sense of new found energy to channel emotional, creative and ethical intelligence….our sense of bigger purpose, causes and beliefs.  Like it or not, recent economic changes have had strong effect on all cultures and businesses.  This is a great time to ask your team, “where are the gaps in your current strategy and delivery systems in this New World Marketplace?”

I am starting my 2011 blog series with “New World Strategies” to help you and your team examine your strategy in terms of what your brand offers and how to align values with the New world customers.

Let’s first start with text book definition of “Strategy”:  Which customers, which needs and at what relative price.  It’s not about competing to be the“best”, it’s about being “different”.   It’s just as much about what-not-to-do, as it is about what-to-do.  A combination of benefits and trade-offs your brand offers.  A mutually profitable value proposition between you and your customers, that differentiates you from all other alternatives and competitors.

How is the “New World Strategy” any different?  Think about how “which customers” and “which needs” are constantly changing.  Women are now majority of the work force…for every 2 men that get a college degree, 3 women do the same….1/3 of US population is non-white….1 out of 3 kids being born in the US will have a parent who is an immigrant….If you haven’t read my blog on “What is the New World Marketplace”, click and read now.  There is shocking statistics.  Today, it is all about organizations and leaders embracing the velocity of this transformation to achieve future profitability.

Critical demographic and cultural shifts are changing the faces and needs of the New World customers.  The way your brand’s shifts and changes your customers experiences and lives, versus the alternatives and competitors, will define your success.  Examine your current strategy.  This means a new mindset of becoming your own future rival and forsaking your past prejudices and orthodoxies that exist in most organizations today.  Think about understanding what is changing in the New World Marketplace and why ~ within emotional and cultural frameworks ~ not our traditional rational frameworks…. features, facts and figures do not define behavior.  It’s really a lot more fluid than that.

Cultural and emotional frameworks are critical touchstones for future profitability.  People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.  Most organizations know what and how to sell, but do they know why?  This means aligning your values with those of your New World customers, believing in what they believe ~ and vice versa.  Today’s shared reality is far more authentic and intuitive than ever before. We’ve got an exciting, yet evolving year ahead.  I’ll be sharing new data points and case studies throughout the year.  If you are seeing micro or macro trends in your business that you would like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.

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