Every so often I get clients wanting the moon for their business… isn’t the marketing consultant’s purpose you’ll ask? Well if you start from “underground” it’s gonna be a bit more difficult to reach the moon, especially when you’re not sure where exactly you at are within this distance.
In order to succeed, in any planning process you have to understand clearly the starting point, meaning the t0 situation in planning. I’ve seen “great” strategies that failed because of poor understanding or even consideration of this particular phase.
You cannot make a giant ride a minibike!
When did you actually evaluated last the situation you are now in, with the same depth and will as the achievements (or better yet the risks) you perceive in your desired actions and plans. By nature, we tend to superficially evaluate the current situation, because we are at this particular point and we want to get it done with, to get to the next step! By outrunning this, we put all our attention in considering the next step.In marketing planning especially, this tendency is even more emphasized, ‘cause marketing itself is future, development and business growth –oriented. However, as you’ll notice, the initial point and momentum, dramatically affects the success or the failure of the program. The misunderstood initial points will give bad start in planning and execution, both, and will ofcourse contribute to teh eventual failure of a plan., program or campaign. Before taking and step further into your strategies, take a moment to consider the following (critical) aspects:
Are you aware and fully exploiting everything you actually got at this particular moment?
Usually taken for granted, the products and services portfolio is not just your products and services. For example, support, guarantees, client assistance, brands, quality and account management and many more, are also parts of your offer. Although maybe you take them as “free of charge” and think they don’t require a special attention in designing and positioning your portfolio to your client, if you think about it really well, you can actually sell this items one by one… as a different component and in different “packages”; so look at them again and this time see what you actually can and should sell.
In general, these are seen as attributes, but when you think about your “whole” offer, these need particular attention and care, if you actually want to make money off of them; or don’t you J?
Anything that brings value to your client is automatically a component of your portfolio….
It will be easier to sell your products and services if you understand this.Another aspect worth considering si the way these components are connected or not, if they are packed or if there’s certain dynamics and dependencies in between them, etc. All these thoughts can guide you in a storm of new ideas and opportunities to further exploit what you already got.
How are products and services interacting within your portfolio?
This really isn’t your everyday wake-up questing, is it J? If you considered this even once, you are one big step ahead.
For example, you offer different products to different market segments. How do you administrate them without creating confusion and more, to secure your positioning with each segment? This is an area where you can easily get conflicts between different components within your own portfolio. A classic example here is when you have products for both SMB and big customers. You try to offer both an accesible product, to strictly answer SMB requirements, and then you also have to offer a larger scale and scope product, within great quality standards to big customers. In IT, for example, a lot of companies that offer enterprise solutions for very large corporations cannot, as much as they tried already, to accommodate in their portfolio solutions for small clients with the same success and vice versa.
I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but, in this case, this audit of your own portfolio and dynamics must be done with a high level of caution and results need to be reflected upon. What are the opportunities in your current portfolio?At this moment, in your portfolio are many opportunities to continue exploiting the components of your own offer and find new revenue streams.Can differently apply you product or service? Can other clients or market segments use it as well; with small changes, could you apply it differently, or can you outline all new benefits in a different context for your client?…etc… What are the limitations in your current portfolio?
If you noticed conflicts in your own portfolio in the above point, these are acting as limitation currently. Lack of certain products features or services extenstions that are critical for better exploiting your portfolio on the client side, require you to think of alternatives to respond their requests.
Any acknowledged limitation becomes an opportunity to develop your offer!The coverage to which you can expand the purpose of your products and services acts as limitations. Anytime you wish to add a new component to your portfolio you have to take each of above steps one at a time and make sure the certain addition doesn’t affect your current portfolio.
You products and services portfolio is complete?
When analyzing your portfolio with the above points, you will surely come up with ideas of either products or services improvement. In order to fulfill clients’ needs better, or to perform better tasks, to enlarge the scope or simply to satisfy your customer better, consider adding small features, benefits, additional “goodies” to your portfolio.
The small additions need to be just that…”small”, but as you’ll notice these can be very impactful; just for a exemplification purposes, it’s enough to draw, a list of recommendations and references when they request a certain category of services that you do not perform, so that your customer can be satified and percieve you as more of a professional and caring company.
Somtimes, it maybe be better to consider whether that certain service really is critical for your product’s usage, then, seriously consider providing this to your customers.
While performing the analysis suggested above, you will figure out exactly your current situation, you will find so much more to explore within your current portfolio, you will be able to control all the aspects of your offer that bring value to your clients and, probably, you will find many ideas for further development.
One challenge we have when executing a strategic plan is the first step, because there’s usually no logical path between the starting point and the finish. Well, this is the first step! Sometimes after performing this step you might even change the scope or your strategy to realize that your value and your offer needs to be developed in another area that you initialy thought of. You’ll figure out easy developments and logical steps to get your value proposing one step further.
The periodical evaluation of your portfolio of products and services, of your company’s offer, is critical for your company’s performance on the market.
Note: An in-depth analysis of your products and services portfolio is “formally” performed in few ways. The most popular models are the Boston Consulting Group Matrix and the General Electric/Shell aka McKinsey / General Electric Matrix. Yet, these are methods that analyze the performance of products and services within the portfolio and don’t give out a clear view of the dynamics and opportunities in your current situation.
However, these analysis will help you determine your product strategies; we will discuss about this in another post.