Hello. I’m Tony Mayo, the Business Owner’s Executive Coach … with one quick idea you can use in your business today.
When I take an executive team offsite to guide them through a strategic planning session –or, as I prefer to call it, an alignment exercise– there is a conversation that always seems to happen right after we finish articulating corporate values and vision, …during work on the mission statement.
To write a mission statement we need to get clear about the company’s competitive advantage, the Unique Selling Proposition or USP. The one thing we want to be known for.
To do this, the team starts listing current products and services. The top revenue producer, the best margins, the cash cow, the fastest growing, the legacy product, the custom version, the peripheral service, etc. Everything they sell
Then they start to reverse engineer the mission statement to include all of them, and that… just… doesn’t… work.
I explain that, even if we focused on one market, –because it’s easier to sell new products to existing customers than to sell anything to new customers– it doesn’t work to push everything at our market all at once. No matter how sharp and strong each marketing message is, you can’t cut through the noise by talking about all of them at the same time. .
We need to pick one to promote, to emphasize. One message to focus our marketing efforts, one idea that prospects will associate with us, one mission that motivates employees.
The good news is, if we put our resources behind one lead product, not only does that one come through loud and clear, but –in practice– the others come along automatically.
Woodworkers call this the pilot hole. If you need to get a large bolt or peg into a beam, you don’t start by gouging out a huge hole. You start easy, by drilling one small hole. This hole guides the larger drill bit into the beam, just like a ship’s pilot on a tug boat guides a huge tanker into harbor.
Focus your energy and attention on one key message, so you present a coherent image to your employees, prospects, and customers.
“The Apple Marketing Philosophy” in effect from day one, written back in 1977 by Steve Jobs’s first mentor, had just three points. Number two was, “We must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” One of the first things Jobs did when he came back to Apple twenty years later was to eliminate 70% of their product offerings. He rebuilt Apple with just four products, two for consumers and two for professionals. Four products for a company earning $10 billion dollars in revenue. How many products do you have the resources to develop?
You may choose to cut back on the number of products offered, that is often an effective change, but that’s not my main point here. The important thing is, no matter whether your company has four offerings or four dozen, it pays to put the full force of your marketing and sales behind one key product, one simple message. Nike has hundreds of products, yet their brand image is only about you being more athletic. Amazon sells millions of individual products as well as many services with one simple mission statement, “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.”
If you have a sensible product mix, intense, disciplined focus on one mission will increase market penetration for everything.
Have I made my point?
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