STOP MOURNING – GET MOVING
We are living thru one of the most tumultuous, chaotic, hyper changing periods in all of human history. An advance in technology, communications, e-commerce and access to real time information has totally altered the way we live in so many ways. What was old in every area of the economy is dead. “Change” is no longer an option in the business world. Think about how many companies that you knew and respected in the last 20 years that are now dead. If you are managing a company in virtually any sector of the economy these days….Congratulations. You have survived. No time to pick up a trophy…the speed of change is only accelerating. Ten years from now, the “winners” will be those leaders and organizations that not only adapt to a changing marketplace and consumer dynamic. To win in the years ahead, you must anticipate consumer behavior and pivot your organization to be seen as a “solutions provider” for your current and future customers.
Throughout my career in marketing, I have had a front row seat observing the moves that companies either make or miss in pivoting their business to address the need of their customers and prospects. One of the dominant themes for me has been the number of organizations and leaders that continue to mourn and romance the “old ways” that they brought their products to market and engaged with customers. Those that found themselves caught up in a way of thinking/ hoping that any change was to be short lived and that consumers “came to their senses” they would return to the ‘tried and true “ methods and tactics that served them so well in the past. Unfortunately for these companies and their employees this thinking led so many organizations to be “dead companies walking”
There may still be time for you to save your company from this fate. The competitive landscape is only getting more intense. Media consumption and purchasing patterns are shifting on a daily basis. As leaders the choice will be yours as to the path you take on the road ahead. Here are just five steps that I would suggest you take immediately to put your company on the right path and remain more than relevant in the competitive arena
- No More Denial – You have a problem. It’s a real problem. If you aren’t a student of your marketplace, you need to get out of your own skin and start spending time within the industry you serve to understand the real data on consumer purchasing patterns. You need to have a clear sense of the competitive landscape. Most importantly you need to understand in today’s economy whether your product/ service and its unique selling proposition are still as compelling as they used to be. Be brutally honest with yourself and your company. If you find in your analysis that consumers have moved away from purchasing CD’s in lieu of Digital Downloads, you need to chart a path to optimize your offering to match this change. There will always be a market of nostalgic consumers who like to purchase buggy whips. That’s not your future. Those consumers are being replaced too quickly for you to spend too much time thinking that you have this market segment cornered. Live and operate in the real world…while its more challenging …it’s a real foundation to build on.
- Change Starts at the Top – If you are the CEO of a company, your employees look to you to set the course for your company. Dare to be decisive. Not recommending that you take bold steps in transforming your company without the proper insight, data and direction. Someone has to be the leader of change in the organization. The best companies rest this responsibility on the CEO. Any change that occurs in your company comes from and through you. As you know many inside your organization are resistant to change. In these situations, the leader must be the most evangelical proponent and driver for change. Anything less than this full commitment and buy in for the steps along the way will render the entire effort a disaster. You need to be the greatest cheerleader and facilitator of the pivotal moves being made within your organization. When you have the vision charted out…you must be decisive. Your employees will respect you for it and in doing so…you will gain new found respect. You are going to make mistakes along the way…no doubt. However, I would rather be guilty of making an aggressive mistake moving toward our goal than sitting on the sidelines.
- Consumer Has Control – Always be reminded that your business pivots on your customers and prospects. You are waging a war for the customer in real time between you and your competitors. Your challenge is to find new ways to acquire new customers and retain your existing customers. While we are at it….find new ways to build greater life time value and win back your “lost customers”. Traditional methods of intersecting with customers and prospects are no longer sufficient. At Fosina Marketing we ascribe to the practice of “up funnel marketing” i.e.…focusing on reaching consumers and prospects throughout the purchasing funnel with engaging media and content that is hyper relevant to the consumer and venue being accessed. Direct to Consumer marketing is much more complicated than the legacy suite of media alternatives. It takes special skill and focus to execute these strategies. Without this new focus, your product offering will miss the potential of connecting with prospects and customers within their more important and desired congregation points.
- Be Clear about Your KPI’s – How focused are you on achieving your goals? We all want to build greater value in our companies. Engage more customers. Drive revenue. Lower Expenses. Increase profits. Improve overall customer satisfaction. I am speaking about the level down from this topline. Do you understand clearly the path to achieving these goals? Have you developed specific KPI’s that are being monitored on a weekly and monthly basis? Are they truly the most important data points that will provide you real time access to “how you are doing”? Don’t leave all of this analysis to your financial officers. As a leader, you need to be on top of all the key data points to understand if the decisions that you are making are actually working in alignment with your goals. Instituting change is a great idea…actually exacting change in your organization for the purpose of being in a constant stage of optimization and improvement is a new way of life. Doing it properly requires an obsession with the key KPI’s and a level with all in the organization as to the improving traction you are experiencing as a result of change.
- Get Help – From the outset, we said that charting this “pivot path” isn’t easy. It demands a new skill set for many business leaders. There is no “canned- out of the box” solution that is plug and play. I remember the false promise of the CRM applications when they launched a decade ago. Software is just code. The success of CRM and now within the “pivot” is the ability for you and your organization to leverage the tools, technologies and services available to accomplish your goals. You will most probably find that some legacy employees may not be willing and/or appropriate to be a part of this change at the speed that you require. You don’t have the luxury of time spent trying to educate and/or train them to be passionate about the new road ahead. If you need help….get help. There are a group of solid organizations available (Fosina included that are pros in helping companies like you navigate the path. Don’t delay moving forward. Reach out to the professionals you need for guidance and assistance.
In the end analysis, the choice is yours. You can spend your time wishing for a return of the “good old days” and mourning the demise of legacy thinking knowing in your heart of hearts that the past is done. You have no opportunity to change what has already yours. The next chapter of your leadership will be defined and chronicled by the actions that you take today and in the days/months ahead. Do you have the chops and focus to chart a new path; the only path that provides you an opportunity to not only survive but lead in the years ahead.
Jim Fosina is CEO of Fosina Marketing Group. For the last 15 years, Fosina Marketing Group has established itself as a leader in Direct to Consumer Marketing. The company provides its customers with a robust tool kit and service offerings that harnesses the power of “up funnel” marketing.