Posts tagged "mistakes"

Airing Our Dirty Laundry – The Absence of a Good Go-to-Market Strategy

June 4th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Airing Our Dirty Laundry – The Absence of a Good Go-to-Market Strategy”

We began the month of May asking a question – what’s holding you back?

If you follow us closely, you may have noticed a few things:

  1. We did not post blogs on a regular basis.
  2. We did not produce new Business is ART podcasts on a regular basis.
  3. We temporarily shut down the Plan Canvas website.

Why? What was holding us back? The answer may surprise you.

We actually weren’t holding back

In actuality, we were holding nothing back, despite outside appearances. So what has been going on?

We’ve been working hard to address a few particular areas of concern, which we will share with you here.

This may leave some of you wondering why we would air our “dirty laundry,” but it is really very simple. Our mission is to improve others’ business and personal outcomes. If others can learn from our mistakes and apply what we learn, we are happy to share.

What have we learned about our go-to-market strategy?

Basically, what we learned was how ill-prepared we were to go-to-market. The Plan Canvas software product was ready, but our go-to-market strategy was not.

As a boot-strapped startup, we put all of our efforts in developing and validating a quality product. These are necessary steps, especially validation. And it is not abnormal for a startup to have no or limited budget to do everything it needs to do – and the same was true for us.

It is not that we ignored sales and marketing. We did a few things, like committing to a social media content marketing campaign. But we consciously put aside a lot of the things we knew we would at some point need to do from a sales and marketing perspective – out of budgetary necessity.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. But what we miscalculated was how much work there would be to do in order to get to an intelligent go-to-market strategy.

What have we been doing?

Before telling you what we’ve been up to, we want to emphasize that it’s never done. Like everything else in business, your sales and marketing strategy is an ever-involving thing.

That said, here is what we have been doing:

  1. Conducted a product “positioning” exercise.
  2. Modified our messaging.
  3. Made a greater distinction between our 3 product lines – Plan Canvas for Individual, Plan Canvas for SMB, and Plan Canvas for Enterprise.
  4. Published a white paper on improving strategy execution.
  5. Documented several Plan Canvas case studies.
  6. Attended entrepreneurial boot camps and participated in pitch competitions.
  7. Modified the plancanvas.net website.
  8. Modified the business model.
  9. Overhauled the Plan Canvas software user interface.
  10. Planned “Launch 2.0” – effectively, a “do-over” from our initial launch in September of 2017.

So what’s next?

Again, this is a never-ending process, and there is a lot more to come. But for the immediate future, we will begin a weekly theme around each of the specific customer types we identified through the aforementioned positioning exercise.

They are as follows:

  • Individual Interested in Self-Improvement – No matter what your title or station in life, you can benefit from a personal self-improvement plan.
  • Freelancer/Independent – You want to earn money doing what you love, on your terms, with the flexibility to do what you want, when you want. There’s just one problem. Reality.
  • Startup Entrepreneur – You have dreams of starting your own business but need to validate if your product or business idea is viable.
  • Small to Midsize Business (SMB) – You enjoy being your own boss, but want to do better, creating a lasting business model with an engaging and enduring company culture.
  • Regional and Franchise Managers with Multiple Locations – You need to spend less time managing individual stores while spending more time managing the area.
  • Operations Manager – You need to better manage change, attract and retain talent, optimize costs, maximize output and grow.
  • Church and Non-Profits – You have all of the same challenges of a for-profit business with one main difference – in addition to fee-based products and services, your mission may be dependent on grants and donations.
  • Midsized-to-Large Enterprise – You need improved outcomes of strategy execution.

We are also working on a group subscription and white label offering. It’s an on-going journey and we hope you join us.

If not, we hope you at least learn from us.

5 Ways to Provide Excellent Customer Service

March 29th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Relationships 0 thoughts on “5 Ways to Provide Excellent Customer Service”
Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

In Segment #23 of the Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat network, my guest, Jason Cozad, and I discuss customer service and what good customer service means.

In wrapping up the show, we summarized 5 points that you should consider when developing your own customer service strategy or approach.

Know Your Customer

Jason tells of a customer he recently acquired for one simple reason. His competitor did not know this customer even after servicing the account for 20 years. After 4 failed attempts to provide the customer with something that they had always purchased, the customer finally left in frustration.

BIA Podcast on the TrueChat Network

BIA Podcast on the TrueChat Network

Make Sure the Customer Knows You

In Jason’s case, this is perhaps more important than it may be for some because in order to provide his service, he actually has to go into the home or place of business of the customer. A certain level of trust must therefor be established, which begins with a presentable appearance. Other means to ensuring the customer knows you include seeking out referrals and testimonials, providing a website, or being active on your business Facebook page where people can get to know you a little bit on their own, before contacting you.

Listen to the Customer

Knowing the customer and listening to the customer are not necessarily the same things. Just because you know the customers well, don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what they want or need. Take time to listen to what they are saying to you.

Own Your Mistakes

None of us are infallible and mistakes can be made. The important thing to do is “own” them. Make it a priority to correct mistakes on the customer’s timeline, not yours. Spending a little extra time or money fixing an error will pay for itself in the long, and perhaps even short run.

The Best Sales Pitch is No Pitch at All

As Jason notes, he used to sell products in addition to services. He has since learned that when he provides excellent service, the products sell themselves. He provides them, and charges a fair rate for them, but he doesn’t have to “sell” them in the classic sense.

You Decide

Customer service can be a great differentiator in your business. If you take care of the customer, the revenue and profit will come. If all you focus on are the revenue and profit, the customer will leave.

Which scenario would you prefer?

Please contact me to discuss this or any other business related topic, and tell us how you ensure good customer service in the comments section below.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business

March 5th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Owner, Strategy 0 thoughts on “4 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business”
Mistake

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Achieving business success is not only about what you do, it’s what mistakes you avoid. Mistakes can be made by anyone, no matter how prepared you are to get started in your industry. These mistakes aren’t always so easy to identify, and some of them can actually be misconstrued as doing something positive. But therein lies the problem: sometimes you can do too much.

It’s not always what you put into your business that matters, but what you leave out. A complete list would be far too lengthy for a blog, so here are just 4 mistakes to avoid when starting your business.

Moving Forward Without a Plan

One of the biggest mistakes that business owners can make is pressing forward without any type of plan for the future. It’s good to have a sense of your industry, the market, the consumers and what you want your business goals to be.

Without a proper business plan, you put yourself at risk of being one of the many businesses that fail within the first five years. The Business is ART book explicitly lays out how you can form a plan. You can also find a template for a “One Page Strategic Plan” as well as a business plan template in the “Freebies” section of the website.

While it’s always a good idea to have a business plan, start with the strategic plan. It sets the stage for your business plan.

Over Planning

You have probably heard the term “analysis paralysis.” Simply put, it’s what happens when we over think things. This can easily happen when putting plans together. You start to think of all of the additional things you can put in to your plans, or talk about in great depth in your plans. Pretty soon, months or years go by without taking any real actions toward implementing your plans. You’ve been so busy planning that you forgot the “doing” part.

Another danger is what I call “exception handling.” That’s when instead of defining the forward path, you start worrying about and defining all of the detours and delays that may take you off of the defined path and down unmarked dirt roads.

To be sure, you should do some of this planning. It’s called risk mitigation planning. But do it AFTER you have defined the preferred, ideal path that you plan to take. If you try to define them simultaneously, you are likely to never completely define the path.

Being Inflexible

You should never become so set in your ways that you refute any and all criticism about your business or plan. Part of being a business leader is learning to listen to your stakeholders as well as others who have no “skin-in-the-game.” Most importantly, you should be listening to your customers.

By refusing to revise your business plan and strategy, you will find that your business will become either obsolete or forgotten about pretty quickly. Every market is constantly evolving; the trick is to evolve along with it.

Neglecting Your Marketing Budget

Developing a product or perfecting a service is integral to any business, but if you don’t spend any money on marketing your business, how will people know that it even exists? Don’t fall back on the saying: “if you build it, they will come.” You have to set aside some money for marketing in order to get your business off the ground.

What are some other mistakes to avoid?

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