If you are serious about building and expanding your business, you have to have a viable strategy that will help you achieve your goals, and fulfill your business’s purpose or mission statement.
Research plays a key part in developing a sound business strategy. Whatever field you are in, you MUST really understand that industry or field of endeavor. How it works, what make it tick, etc. Sounds obvious, right? Yet many business owners operate in a vacuum of data regarding their own industry.
For example, some never take the time to discover, for real, who their main competitors are. Or perhaps they know who they are, but they don’t know that much about them: how they advertise and promote their business, their hiring practices, specific characteristics about their goods or the quality of their services, their methods of delivering their goods or services, customer service issues, and so on.
To compete successfully, you have to know those things, and more, about your competition.
Another key area of research is determining who or what comprises your target market or market segments. Another obvious point, right? Yet MANY business owners cannot realistically define their target markets. They often think they know who their customer is, but it is often some euphoric, unrealistic ideal, not their actual customer profile.
Over the years, I have seen “customer profiles” that were so divorced from reality, they were laughable! The reason for this is because the business owners or executives had never conducted any real research or surveys of their customers. They just sort of had this “idea” sitting there of who their customer was.
So if they didn’t really understand who their real customer was, and what they wanted, how could they formulate a good business strategy or develop marketing plans and activities that would appeal to a specific and well-defined target market?
Know Your Customers!
Years ago, I was conducting a marketing survey for a client whose customers were large corporations who owned downtown, high-rise office buildings. I was interviewing (surveying) key execs in those corporations.
During the course of one interview I was doing, the person I was interviewing said, “You know, Bob, we used to do surveys, but we never could get people to tell us anything that amounted to much.” He was rather politely dismissing the idea that surveys were useful.
You can imagine the look on his face when I replied, “Well, you have been talking with me now for an hour and a half, and have provided a LOT of useful information that will help my client improve his services to your company, as well as his other clients.”
You could have hear a pin drop in the ensuing silence. Fact!
So… I don’t know what his company was doing in its “surveys,” but they obviously didn’t know how to go about them very well if they weren’t getting any useful information!
KEY POINTS: In order to formulate a workable strategy that will help you achieve your goals and purposes, you need to know and understand the field you are operating in – its basic history, how it functions, who your competitors are and how they operate, and who your REAL target markets are, where they are located, and what they really need, want and expect from a business that offers your type of goods or services.
If you don’t know these things, really KNOW them, you are operating in a fog and just throwing stuff at a wall, hoping it will stick.
There is quite a bit to know when it comes to putting together a sound business strategy. But by at least knowing the basic things discussed here, you can come up with some bright ideas with which to begin putting a strategy together.
Written by Bob Nelson
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