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Making business strategy simple, reducing the planning gap and using product extension to open up new markets

This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook sees Angela Hatton, marketing consultant, trainer and published author and MMC’s Rene Power discussing business strategy being quite simple (three key questions), reducing the planning gap and using product extension to open up new markets.

It’s the fifth and final part of a series of serialisations on marketing management, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).

Rene Power:

I see a lot in B2B, particularly, like manufacturing in products, where most of the time you’re trying to switch somebody from buying Company’s A paint to Company’s B paint and there’s not a lot of difference in it.

So you’ve got to talk about ease of use… all sorts of things that are potentially benefits to user, to the buyer, to the decision maker, to whoever they are.

But what I think you can do quite effectively, and this idea of having a market and then identifying the segments within it, if you’re clever about it, you can have transitional segments.

So when people suddenly don’t fit in one but they identify with another, you don’t lose them. And so you still have this customer for life.

But you’re right. This all takes work and thinking and research and asking questions and being inquisitive, and wanting to always seek to improve.

And these are all traits that I think the leading marketers have. And they’re the sort of things that I think some of the guys listening along to this and watching this on demand, these are the things that are going to help you in your career.

Don’t just accept everything for what it is right now but actually look and think and be that voice in the business who is saying, “But what about if this? Or what about if that? Or what about if the other?”

And I think you’ve stressed that in a number of points today, that they are really important skills and behaviours to have.

Angela Hatton:

Yeah. And again, you started off by talking about the simplicity of the Marketing Plans book (session 1).

But I remember hearing Costas Markides, the management guru, speaking at Harrogate. Scarily, at the CIPD conference, the Institute of Personnel Development, were bringing these big names in to talk about it.

Business strategy is simple

But him saying, “Business strategy is really simple. There are just three questions that companies have to answer and it starts with which customers do we want to serve? And which not? What products do we want to offer them and what not? And how do we want to engage with them and how not?”

And his point was it was all the, “how nots” that was the really challenging thing because there was this temptation of people to go, “Well we’re targeting teenagers but actually we quite like the 20 year olds as well and…

Rene Power:

You’re getting into the niche there and having the gumption to say, “That’s a service that we’ll niche and that’s where we’re going to go and that’s where we’re going to excel and this is how we’re going to deliver it and if people aren’t right for us or we’re not right for them, that’s cool.”

Then having the gumption to do that. Yeah, the people that do it can be very, very successful and the companies that do it can be very successful but it takes a certain mindset and a certain will to do that and stick to it sometimes.

Angela Hatton:

Yeah, it does. And very frustrating for the marketers who get what they should be doing but they can’t kind of get that audience. So they need to just have that plan as to how that’s going to happen. Take the CEO out for a drink or something. Or…

Rene Power:

If all else fails, yeah, socialise. Appropriately, according to where you’re watching this.

Angela Hatton:

The Planning Gap

If they have the chance to show one diagram that would make an impact, I believe it’s the Planning Gap with a sensible analysis of the environment and what it’s doing.

In other words, are we looking at declining sales because we’re in mature markets that are going into decline, petrol engine cars, the speed with which or growing markets.

And what the company’s objective is because that will be reported in various ways as to what an acceptable rate of growth is. More if you’re owned by venture capitalists, arguably. That kind of thing. And then that question of how do we fill the gap?

And that’s where marketers should be working. That strategic role is which products and which markets, i.e. Ansoff Matrix essentially, can we develop and win a value proposition for that fills that gap?

Rene Power:

Yeah, I mean, I love the Ansoff Matrix and whenever I’ve used that in training you get people brainstorming around that and then they go away and think about which ones are the most viable.

And you’ve then got research projects that you can begin to undertake. You can start going and asking customers. You can go and start doing feasibility stud