Customers are the lifeblood of a company. Regardless of whether you manufacture a product, provide a service, or sell products made by other manufacturers, your business can’t survive long without customers. One way to keep customers happy is to add new products and services they might need. Happy customers are most likely to be returning customers.
In addition to decisions about what products or services to offer and how to promote, distribute and price what you offer, marketing involves finding, developing and profiting from new opportunities. They typically come from outside the organization and at times can be abundant. In fact, you may find yourself in a position where there are so many opportunities, it’s tough to choose which one(s) to pursue.
The same is true for customers. A wise salesperson once told me that there is the business you have, the business you want, AND the business you don’t want. Let’s examine the questions and criteria for opportunity analysis and decision-making.
Class is now in session. Today’s topic:
Picking & Pursuing the Right Opportunities
Marketing opportunities come from supplying something in short supply/high demand, providing a superior product/service or introducing something totally new. Growth can also come from selling to a new group of customers.
Regardless of whether the growth opportunity involves products, services or customers, there are three vital questions to consider when identifying and framing them:
- What might you do?
- What do you do best?
- What must you do?
The ‘what might you do’ question pinpoints possible additions to your core business. For example, a custom cabinet-maker might consider providing stone or laminate countertops. A retailer of tile and stone might consider offering installation services.
You can see the relationships between cabinets and countertops as well as tile and installation. But not all cabinet-makers will get involved with countertops. Nor will tile retailers provide installation services. Why? That leads to the second question needed to frame growth opportunities, ‘what do you do best.’
The cabinet-maker needs to determine if the opportunity fits with what he currently offers. Is it in line with the firm’s mission or aspirations? Does he have the people who can deliver the product or implement the service being considered? Opportunities are only as good as the people who pursue them. The business either has to have the product, people and money in place to turn the opportunity into reality, or know where resources can be found. Too many times businesses deplete scarce resources on pursuits that turn out to be dead ends. When an opportunity presents itself, you need to be honest with your firm’s ability to pursue it.
The third question, ‘what must you do’, focuses on the essential tasks of running your core business. The answer to this question comes from dissecting and evaluating the processes of your business and marketing efforts. There are always risks associated with the pursuit of new opportunities. The question is whether that pursuit jeopardizes what is already successful. Or as I like to ask my students … is the juice worth the squeeze?
These three questions are also valid when selecting the customers you want to serve. It’s tough to say ‘no’ to someone says they want to buy from you, but sometimes saying no is the best decision. If, for example, the customer were outside your normal business area, would working with them stretch resources to the point that your core business suffers?
Another reason to say thanks but no thanks is if you think the customer won’t be pleased with your work regardless of quality. Some folks are never satisfied. Working with them can be toxic to your business, regardless of how much you try to fulfill their wishes. Other customers may not know what they want and keep you running around in circles. In other words, is the juice worth the squeeze?!
Pursuing the right opportunities can boost profits and inspire more creative growth ideas. Pursuing the wrong ones can drain resources and frustrate employees and customers. As you consider new opportunities, remember to evaluate them based on what you do best and what you must do to stay in business. Only then can you determine if the juice is worth the squeeze.
That will do it for our look at opportunity analysis. Next month we’ll venture into another topic to help you improve the results of your marketing efforts. Watch for it in the next issue of Strategic Business News.
Class dismissed. Now go forth and conquer.