Several years ago, the owner of a prominent business services company hired me as his business coach. The owner and the company were well-known and well-regarded, yet the company’s growth had stalled.
The business owner was a fixture in the community. The name of the company was noticeably placed everywhere, and they were considered a leader in their industry. Client retention was remarkably high, but growth was not occurring. This is a story I hear time and again, and its roots lie in a lack of understanding of how to leverage brand promise1 in their strategy tool kit.
Understanding Your Customers
After careful consideration, it became apparent that my client was well-known for their product and service, but they did not know why that mattered to their clients. More intriguing was the fact that, while my client was considered by many to be a strong salesperson, and the company prided itself as superior in marketing and sales, its actual sales results proved to be the opposite! The industry had grown, and other competitors had grown faster while they had not. They were excellent at serving their existing clients—reflected by high customer retention—but lack of sales growth proved they were not getting the job done in sales and marketing. Further analysis led to the conclusion that our client did not know what was important to potential customers. While they kept customers, they did not know why.
Two Factors Required for Massive Growth
We have found that two factors need to be clarified by any company to achieve consistent sales growth, and they are always present in those that have massive growth. These two factors were hindering growth for my client.
1. Specific Market Segment
The first factor required for massive growth is to focus on a specific market segment. Do not aim to be all things to all segments. Targeting every source of revenue can leave you spread too thin, like the proverbial jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
When businesses mistakenly chase revenue anywhere, it leads them, they wind up with less of it. Great companies quickly learn that by segmenting the marketplace, they can perfect their business model around owning their segment.
A common mistake is to view a segment as a demographic, such as company size or industry group. Instead, view segments as a group of people that should be separated based on common needs, behaviors, and other attributes so they can be better served.
2. Getting the Job Done
Once you have identified your segment, the second critical factor in achieving massive growth is to identify your client’s “job to be done.” This is where brand promise comes in. It would be best if you built a company reputation around being excellent on the few critical attributes (I recommend no more than three) that are most important to the customer. Too often, business leaders fail to spend enough time understanding which attributes of their product or service the market is under-serving, and that makes the most difference in the results to the target segment.
You need to build your company reputation around being excellent on the few critical attributes that are most important to the customer.
This is important because each segment has a specific “job” they want to be done that differs from other segments. If you address anything other than this “job” in your marketing and sales efforts, they will not hire you. Too often, companies provide what they believe to be exceptional quality or service only and are surprised when their clients leave for what they believe to be something inferior. What clients are telling you is that you are getting the wrong “job” done! Often leaders in companies think they have lost customers for other reasons such as a change in relationship, price, or external force they could not control.
The reality is that if you are getting the “job” done in an excellent way, you can withstand most external forces. You are just clinging to excuses.
Failing to identify the few attributes of excellence leads to too much complexity and brand confusion. Leaders must make choices and position the company in a way that will maximize growth and profits. It is best to narrow your strategy down further so that you capture a larger share of the market while simultaneously maximizing your profit.
More complexity leads to:
Example of a Strong Brand Promise
Ikea is a clear example of a company that has a strong brand promise. The company was laser-focused on a key, underserved segment, and their execution of this strategy has allowed them to become a huge and profitable player in the industry in a relatively short period.
Without doing a lot of research here, it is easy for an outsider to describe how they are different. Their target segment is “cash-constrained and budget-conscious people, needing furnishing for their home or apartment, thinking they will probably replace that furniture in a few years and are willing to do what it takes to save money.” Their brand promises to “do everything on our side so that you can buy our furniture at the lowest price, but then you have to do your part, and then together we will change the price point for furnishings forever.” What did this mean?
A leader must understand the two or three most discerning factors why a client in your most desired segment hires or fires your product. You need to distill that down to a narrow set of measurable brand promises that you can build your company around. If you carefully align your sales, marketing, and operations around these brand promises, your customers will have a clear picture of why they should do business with you.
I can help you identify your brand promise(s) and take those next critical steps to grow your business. Schedule a Free 30-Minute Consultation; to see how I might be of service.
1 A brand promise is the value or experience customers can expect to receive every time they interact with a company. The more a company delivers on that promise, the stronger its brand value grows in the minds of their customers.