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Strategic Positioning & Competitive Advantage

Pillar 3 – Your Strategic Positioning & How You Develop A Competitive Advantage

This is a big category and here are links to the other pages – page 23456 – 7

A Small Business Can Have A Competitive Advantage

I’m shocked when I talk to business owners who are under the mistaken belief that only big businesses can have a competitive advantage.

It’s not true – you can have a small business with a strong and compelling competitive advantage and in many ways I think it’s much easier to develop a competitive edge in a small business.

Why Business Owners Think Competitive Advantage Belongs To Big Business

First I think there’s “the grass is greener on the other side” problem.

If you believe that you need a big business with a big bank balance to create a strong competitive advantage then it absolves you of the responsibility to develop one. Superficially it makes life easier although I believe it actually makes things much tougher. You get stuck as a commodity seller with low prices and that usually means that profits are low and hours worked are high.

The grass is greener problem usually comes because you see the advantages that come from being a big business but not the disadvantages. You may be surprised to know that the CEO of the big business you envy is probably very aware of the advantages that you have and hopes that you never apply them in the market.

Second there are some advantages that do come with size.

Economies of scale from purchasing, marketing and product development usually create significant cost savings when spread over a large volume. Big businesses often have well known brands precisely because they are big businesses, even if the brand doesn’t come with a clear positioning or meaning.

Economies of scale for production and administration fall as volume increases and then start to rise as dis-economies set in. A large production plant is more likely to have a strong union presence. Administration is replaced with bureaucracy and endless meetings about whether you should change the rules and if so, how.

Big businesses often create a lot of their own problems because they are big businesses.

The Competitive Advantages Of Small Businesses

  1. The ability to niche and differentiate.
    .
  2. The ability to move with speed.
    .
  3. The closer relationship, trust and intimacy with customers.
    .
  4. The closer, relationship, trust and involvement of the team of employees.

Let’s take a look at each.

The Competitive Advantage For A Small Business In Niching

Niching or bullseye marketing lets you develop a particular solution for a particular group of customers with a tightly defined problem to solve. The closer to the customer’s bullseye solution your offering is, the more likely the customer will be convinced to buy.

This is much easier to do in a small business which can prosper in a small niche while a bigger business may need volume that only comes from several market niches.

While bigger businesses can operate in multiple niches, it increases the complexity of the business, reduces focus and increases costs. Competing across several niches may force larger businesses to make compromises in what they offer, forcing their products away from the bullseye.

There are only two main ways to create a competitive advantage and that’s by either having a cost advantage or by differentiating your products and services in ways that are meaningful to your target customers.

The diagram above is the summary of the generic strategies from Michael Porter and his classic strategy book Competitive Strategy. Businesses that fail to choose risk being “stuck in the middle.”

Niche marketing and differentiation are related concepts and rely on you accurately matching the key success factors of suppliers and customers.

The Competitive Advantage That Comes From Speed

Speed is good in business for a number of reasons.

Speed in supplying customers and helping customers to get the benefits of what you sell is a major advantage which is often of vital importance for buyers. We live in the age of “I want it now”. This is why faster is one of the main dimensions in my ABCDEF Model for advantages.

Speed of decision is also vital. I used to work with corporates but there always seemed to be somebody with a reason to delay taking action – another approval stage, another presentation to a committee, the wait to do it out of next year’s budget… Much of it was nonsense and involved people playing with office politics.

This has been a tough year and all indications are that they are going to get tougher as a recession bites. The huge increase in personal and public debt that has been the underlying growth for the last 20 years needs to first be stopped and then repaid. Austerity is likely to be the theme for many years as we see the effects of the artificial bubble.

In these situations the speed to start, to stop, to do more or to do less will make a huge difference in performance. These are management judgements where facts and decisions have to be closely interlinked. Big businesses with long chains of command and company policies will struggle to adapt quickly to what is happening.

The Competitive Advantage For A Small Business In Closer Customer Relationships

Work with a small business and you’re talking directly to the owner and chief decision maker or someone who is close to them.

You can have more faith that they will do what they promise and if they don’t, you have an easy channel to follow to get things fixed.

But deal with big businesses and it’s very different. I hate it when I have to deal with my bank or any utility and go through call centre hell, explaining the problem to person after person. It’s extremely frustrating and time-consuming and where possible, I will choose to work with a small business.

The Competitive Advantage For A Small Business In Closer Employee Relationships

Unless you work as a one man band – like I do – you will rely on your staff to attract, convert and keep customers.

Small businesses have a huge advantage in being able to create a strong connection between the business owner and the employees and with a clear focus on the purpose of the business. In a small business, staff feel more involved in what is happening but in a big business, they normally feel isolated.

This makes it much easier to develop themes and high customer service standards in a small business. The staff feel happier, customers feel happier and you feel happier.

Most Big Businesses Used To Be Small Businesses

Getting bigger is usually the reward for success.

If a small business performs well, then it will usually grow but as it gets bigger, it may be losing the very factors that made it successful.

That’s why I like business owners to focus on profit rather than turnover.

There’s an old saying – sales is vanity, profit is sanity – and it’s very true. You just have to look at the dreadful results of many acquisitions to see that getting bigger is often an illusion for getting better.

There are traps to business growth but, forearmed is forewarned.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, Business Start-Ups

Eddie Stobart: A Transport Company With Personality

It’s many years ago since I last had to buy transport services but I was sad to hear of the death of Eddie Stobart on Thursday March 31, 2011.

Eddie Stobart (the company) has become an iconic firm for one simple reason – every cab was given a women’s name.

I guess this is an unusual twist on “differentiation by who”.

The company has its own  fan club with 25,000 members and spotters collect the names of the cabs they’ve seen. The first truck was named after the sixties model Twiggy.

There were other differences too – the trucks were clean and the drivers wear ties. Eddie Stobart‘s is a company to be proud of.

From the outside, it doesn’t seem much to give each cab a name but it was a bit of magic that created the public’s attention – and built up probably the UK’s only nationally known transport company.  It would be an interesting exercise to stop people in the street and ask them to name a transport company and see how many people say Eddie Stobart.

Did this create buyer preference?

Maybe not but I bet it got the Eddie Stobart company into a lot of buying situations when it would otherwise have been treated as just another transport company.

And to win the game, you have to be in it in the first place.

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC – How Did Eddie Stobart Become So Famous

The challenge is how you can take such a simple idea as girls names on a truck and use it to give your business personality in a way that makes it memorable.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Be Distinct or Extinct

It was Tom Peters, the management/leadership guru who co-wrote In Search of Excellence and many other books who came up with the phrase “be distinct… or extinct!”

I really wish I’d thought of it and it conveys the same message as Jack Trout’s Differentiate Or Die.

It puts over the differentiation/branding issue very well although I don’t believe it is black and white.

If you don’t differentiate I don’t think you’ll die or become extinct.

At least not quickly.

It’s more like the death of one thousand cuts.

Your profit will disappear…

… one price cut at a time.

… one lost customer at a time.

… yet another interesting prospective customer you didn’t manage to convert.

Tom Peters was talking about personal branding when he say be distinct or extinct in the book The Brand You.

The same idea applies to businesses.

If you’re not distinct and memorable, you’ll create no impression on your target audience. Your touch points will be forgotten or even ignored.

In the book, Tom Peters gives five ideas to be distinct…

  • Ask yourself: What do I want to be known for? What do I want to stand for?
  • Perform a Personal Brand Equity Inventory – ask people you know to tell you three or four words or phrases they associate with you. Do you like what they say?
  • “Inc.” Yourself – see yourself as an independent contractor who only gets paid for work of value.
  • Develop a competence – be excellent at something
  • Develop a one-eighth page Yellow Pages advertisement for your personal brand.

Moving those ideas over to your business, you can ignore point 3 since you’re already in the world where you only eat what you kill.

The first two present an interesting comparison. You may never have stopped to think about the words you want others to think about you.

You may be shocked at how different what you want people to think and what they do think. It’s a clear indication of a positioning/branding problem. I was brought up on this when someone I liked said to me “Paul I don’t really know what you do” when I was promoting myself as a generalist business coach.

I’d prefer you to think of capability rather than competence when you think about your business. To me competence sounds such an ordinary word. The idea remains the same, your business needs to be superb at something.

For the second time today, I’m referring to the value disciplines – is your core strength in operational excellence, customer intimacy or product leadership?

Finally, I like the Yellow Pages test. Can you create a short, succinct marketing message which would be up to the job of attracting customers when all your competitors have the same opportunity? This is very much a return to the idea of the Unique Selling Proposition.

Are you ready to be distinct or face the risk of becoming extinct?

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

What Three Words Do You Want Customers To Think About You?

SEO expert Nikki Pilkington reminded me recently of the three words test.

The idea is simple and works for business branding and personal branding.

What three words do you want customers and clients to think of when they hear your name or think of you?

Three Word Branding Examples

When I challenged Nikki, her answer was “SEO, social media, helpful” – OK that’s four words including one acronym but you get the idea.

When I thought about it for me, I want you to think “profit from differentiation” or something similar – in particular I want you to think of profit and differentiation as a united concept.

If I think of Maserati, I think of “fast, stylish Italian car”. Lamborghini is similar with “fast, flamboyant Italian car”. Ferraris are “red Italian racing cars” to me because of their grand prix heritage.

Aston Martins are “luxurious British grand tourers”

Mercedes means “prestigious, German engineering” to me.

Or for Kylie Minogue I think “Australian singer with a nice bottom.”

Applying The Brand Concept To Your Business

This simple test shows how clearly your brand is positioned in the mind of your customers.

I suggest you stop for a few minutes and ask yourself what you want your customers to think about you in three words.

Then ask a few of them.

If what they say echoes what you want them to say, then you can be reassured that you’ve done a fine job of branding yourself.

But if what they say is radically different, then you have a problem.

You don’t see yourself in the same way that your market sees you.

What To Do If Your Branding Isn’t What You Want It To Be

You have a choice.

Either you adapt your self-image to match what the market thinks and focus on using that to its best advantage.

Or you have to try to change the perceptions of the market to match what you want.

If the market doesn’t have a clear view, then you need to reinforce your brand through constant repetition of a few key ideas. Branding expert Ben Mack calls these “verbatim vitamins” because they pep up your brand.

But if the market has a clear view and it is wrong, then you’ve got a tough time ahead.

Look at Skoda cars as an example.

They used to have a terrible brand image and were the butt of jokes like

“What do you call a Skoda with a sun-roof?”

“Answer: A skip”

Since the takeover by the Volkswagen group, quality is much improved and the brand is strengthening.

But I bet there are people who don’t buy Skoda cars because of the old image.And others who buy despite reservations about the image.

Alfa Romeos have a similar problem. I can’t justify buying a Maserati, Lamborghini or Ferrari but I can afford an Alfa Romeo. I’m drawn to the brand because they are “Italian fine driving cars” but I can’t shake the old “unreliable rust-buckets” out of my mind that was the reputation the brand earned from the 1970s. I think I might need a second car if/when the Alfa breaks down and that makes buying an Alfa prohibitively expensive in my mind.

Why is this clarity so important?

Because it works the other way around as well.

When I think of Nikki, I think of an SEO expert.

And when I am asked about experts in SEO, I think of Nikki and a few others.

That top of mind awareness is powerful.

It’s where the money is.

Any other SEO expert who contacts me faces a big challenge.

He or she has to show me in great detail that they are worthy of being ranked alongside Nikki, Dan Thies, Leslie Rohde and Jerry West.

And it’s an even bigger challenge to create a preference because the space as SEO expert is filled in my mind. It would take a lot of time and it’s time I’m not ready to give willingly because I don’t feel any need to.

You have a simple choice.

You either stand for something and get remembered.

Or you stand for nothing and get forgotten and ignored.

What three words do you want customers to think about you?

It’s Your Turn

You’ve got the chance for a little self-promotion by leaving a short comment for your three words or phrase you want customers and clients to think when they hear your name.

No comment spam around keywords – it won’t be published.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, 4 – Lead Generation

The ABCDEF Rule For Competitive Advantage

You will know that you need to have a competitive advantage or competitive edge as the basis for your unique selling proposition.

Are you clear on the dimensions?

For years, I talked about this as the ABCD Rule.

Your Advantage needs to be Better, Cheaper or Different.

Then I came across an article I wrote on the difference between vertical differentiation and horizontal differentiation where I went further.

I said your Advantage needs to be Better, Cheaper, Different, Easier or Faster.

This became the ABCDEF Rule.

This gives you five broad directions to think about when you are considering your customer value strategy and your customer value attribute map (also known as the strategy canvas in Blue Ocean Strategy). These will help you to be clear on which factors are your order winners and which are order qualifiers.

 

 

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, 4 – Lead Generation, 5 – Lead Conversion

The Purchase Tipping Point

The Purchase Tipping Point refers to the buying decision and how it tips from uncertainty about which is the best choice to certainty that you have made the right decision.

It’s not to be confused with the Profit Tipping Point, the name of my free report to help business owners make more profit.

You’ll have experienced the purchase tipping point yourself many times and there are two different decisions.

  1. The decision to buy something.
  2. The decision to buy the particular item.

Your internal dialogue will go something like this…

“That’s nice.

So is that.

I can’t afford both and I probably shouldn’t buy either.

But I deserve a treat.

Then one of

  • I’ve done very well recently
  • I’ve worked hard this week
  • I have resisted temptation and not bought anything for ages
  • I’m feeling down and I need cheering up
  • I really need it – my current one is old, shabby, broken or worn out

Which should I buy?

[Notice the first purchase tipping point decision has been passed because you’ve gone from not buying to deciding to buy something]

I really like both.

That one’s more practical but the other is so stylish.

I wish I could buy both.

But I can’t. I mustn’t.

Come on which do you want most?

That one.

[This is the second purchase tipping point as you move from a generic purchase decision to a specific one.

How Do You Influence The Purchase Decision?

I’m planning to write a lot more in my blog about how you influence the purchase tipping points:

  • The decision to buy a generic product or service
  • The decision to buy a specific product or service

I believe not looking through the customer’s eyes is a common failing in many marketing and sales books and courses. I’ve argued for a long time that your job is to make it easy for a customer to buy.

It may seem obvious but when you look back at your own buying, you’ll see how often businesses stand in the way of you buying and stop you from tipping positively at either or both of these purchase tipping points.

The Purchase Tipping Point & Mistakes In Communication

One thing businesses are very bad at is not understanding where you are in your buying cycle as a potential customer. This means you get a mismatch in communication.

There are only four combinations – two right and two wrong.

  • Before purchase tipping point 1 (deciding to buy generic)
    The right way – to explain why a generic purchase is right and lay the groundwork for why you should make a specific choice.
    The wrong way is to concentrate on why the customer should buy from you. The customer isn’t ready to be sold, just helped to make the initial tipping point decision.
  • After purchase tipping point 1 but before tipping point 2 (deciding to buy a specific item.)
    The right way is to explain why your specific product is right for them and is different and better than those products available from competitors.
    The wrong way is to explain why buying the generic product is the sensible thing to do.

The Purchase Tipping Point & Emotional & Logical Reasons To Buy

The idea of the purchase tipping point can also be applied to the emotional and logical reasons for buying. You can see this in my sample of internal dialogue above.

To make the purchasing decision, you want ticks for both logic and emotion.

You can know you need something and not want it.

You can want something and not need it.

Either way, you can find that you can’t justify buying.

The Purchase Tipping Point & The Pain Of the Problem Versus The Pain & Gain Of The Solution

Pain and the desire to reduce or avoid pain motivates you to make decisions but there is also pain involved with buying solutions to the underlying problems.

I don’t smoke but it’s well established that smoking is bad for you so the logical thing is to give up. But there is pain involved in quitting (withdrawal symptoms, increased tension and irritability, gaining weight). People who continue to smoke haven’t been able to reach the decision tipping point and to stay on the right side. In this case not smoking is considered more painful than smoking and suffering the high risk of serious health problems in the long term future.

I am overweight and, after losing a few kgs, it seems to be creeping back up. Not as high as it was before I was ill, so I still have plenty of clothes to wear. I’d like to lose weight but I haven’t hit the decision tipping point where my exercise goes up and my calorie consumption goes down. Just like in the internal dialogue above, I find myself thinking “I’ve been a good boy. I deserve a treat” and I have another chocolate bar.

Two Questions

Have you noticed that you have this internal dialogue as you work your way through the two tipping point decisions involved in buying? Have you noticed how some companies and sales people help you “tip positively” towards making the buying decision whilst others seem to do their best to get in the way?

Secondly, if you’re selling a product or service, have you identified ways that you can;

  • Help your customers to tip towards making a buying decision?
  • Identified ways that you might get in the way and then put together an action plan to stop these things happening?

In particular, pay attention to the understanding where the customer is in his or her buying journey and make sure that you are selling the generic product when you need and educating the customer on choosing their appropriate buying criteria and then selling your specific product as different and better than your competitors.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, 4 – Lead Generation, 5 – Lead Conversion

One Size Fits All & The Myth Of Procrustes

The opposite of a niche marketing approach is to use the philosophy of “one size fits all“.

To understand how silly this is, we can go back to the Greek myth of Procrustes.

Procustes was the son of the sea god Poseidon, and he had a stronghold on the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis. He had a bed that would fit all sizes of people.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the bed that was special but would he did to his victims.

Those who were too short were put on the rack and stretched.

Those who were too tall, had their legs chopped off.

There are two options in business.

Adapting your product or service to your customers through bulls eye marketing. This is niche marketing.

The other option is to expect customers to fit themselves around your product.

And just like staying with Procustes for a night, it’s not an appealing offer when you understand the true facts.

The Greek myth makes it obvious that a one size fits all policy is wrong.

But it’s a mistake new businesses make time after time.

Why?

Greed.

The business owners don’t want to say “No” to anyone.

But it’s not attractive or magnetic.

Just like a personal dating ad saying “any woman will do” smacks of desperation and turns off would-be suitors, a business offering a “one size fits all” is turning away everyone who wants something special.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Strategy Quotes & Quotations

I have a weakness for quotes so I thought I’d start building up a list of my favourite strategy quotes and quotations.

I’ve split these into two categories – those strategy quotes that support strategic planning and those that take more of a negative view about strategy and planning.

Positive Strategy Quotes

I’ve grouped these strategy quotations into different sections, separating those with multiple quotes I like before a general “who said what” category.

Strategy Quotes – Jim Collins

Good is the enemy of great. Jim Collins

The best CEOs in our research display tremendous ambition for their company combined with the stoic will to do whatever it takes, no matter how brutal (within the bounds of the company’s core values), to make the company great. Jim Collins

The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work. Jim Collins

A dream is a feeling that sticks – and propels. Jim Collins

A great company will have many once-in-a-liftetime opportunities. Jim Collins

Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people. Jim Collins

Focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organizaton is the only path to greatness. Jim Collins

You can’t manufacture passion or “motivate” people to feel passionate. You can only discover what ignites your passion and the passions of those around you. Jim Collins

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. Jim Collins

Strategy Quotes – Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad (authors of Competing For The Future)

A company surrenders today’s businesses when it gets smaller faster than it gets better. A company surrenders tomorrow’s business when it gets better without getting different.  Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

Laggards follow the path of greatest familiarity. Challengters on the other hand follow the path of greatest opportunitywhere it leads Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

An industry full of clones is an opportunity for any company that isn’t locked into the dominant managerial frame Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

If a top management team cannot clearly articulate the five or six fundamental industry trends that most threaten its firm’s continued success, it is not in control of the firm’s destiny Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

Strategy Quotes – Michael Porter

Strategy must have continuity. It can’t be constantly reinvented Michael Porter

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different Michael Porter

The company without a strategy is willing to try anything Michael Porter

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do Michael Porter

If all you’re trying to do is essentially the same thing as your rivals, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be very successful. Michael Porter

Strategy Quotes – Sun Tzu

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle Sun Tsu

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved Sun Tzu

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat Sun Tzu

Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances Sun Tzu

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Sun Tzu

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win Sun Tzu

Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.  Sun Tzu

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. Sun Tzu

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight Sun Tzu

Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack. Sun Tzu

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy. Sun Tzu

Strategy Quotes – Other

Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference Joel Barker

If you don’t know where you are going, you are certain to end up somewhere else Yogi Berra

If you can’t describe your strategy in twenty minutes, simply and in plain language, you haven’t got a plan. ‘But,’ people may say, ‘I’ve got a complex strategy. It can’t be reduced to a page.’ That’s nonsense. That’s not a complex strategy. It’s a complex thought about the strategy. Larry Bossidy

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. Winston Churchill

Let our advance worrying become our advance thinking and planning Winston Churchill

It’s not the situation … It’s your reaction to the situation Robert Conklin

In order to plan your future wisely, it is necessary that you understand and appreciate your past Jo Coudert

Leadership is getting the right people to do the right thing for the right reason in the right way at the right time at the right use of resources Clark Crouch

Strategic Planning is a process by which we can envision the future and develop the necessary procedures and operations to influence and achieve that future Clark Crouch

In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment. Charles Darwin

You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive or else a strategy is useless. Charles de Gaulle

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable Dwight D. Eisenhower

Plans are nothing; planning is everything Dwight D. Eisenhower

A goal without a plan is just a wish Larry Elder

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right! Henry Ford

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail Benjamin Franklin

It amazes me that most people spend more time planning next summer’s vacation than they do planning the rest of their lives Patricia Fripp

If you need to take a step back from day-to-day operations and plot out the long-term direction of your user experience strategy, consultants can give you a perspective you can’t get on your own Jesse James Garrett

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore Andre Gide

Change is not a destination, just as hope is not a strategy Rudy Giuliani

What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens Thaddeus Golas

I always skate to where I think the puck is going to be Wayne Gretsky

Only the paranoid survive Andrew Grove

The essential element of successful strategy is that it derives its success from the differences between competitors with a consequent difference in their behavior Bruce Henderson

Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling Naveen Jain

High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation Jack Kinder

If we do what is necessary, all the odds are in our favor Henry Kissinger

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now Alan Lakein

A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all Michael LeBoeuf

If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it Abraham Lincoln

If you look at the various strategies available for dealing with a new technology, sticking your head in the sand is not the most plausible strategy Ralph Merkle

Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things Miyamoto Musashi

Strategic planning is worthless — unless there is first a strategic vision John Naisbitt

There is always a better strategy than the one you have; you just haven’t thought of it yet Sir Brian Pitman

The single biggest problem in business is staying with your previously successful business model… one year too long Lew Platt

Living in the past is a Jethro Tull album, not a smart poker strategy Richard Roeper

In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last John Romero

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan Eleanor Roosevelt

What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desire results? The answer to this you can call strategy. William Rothschild

It’s unwise to pay to much… But it’s worse to pay to little.When you pay to much, you lose a little money… that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot…. It can’t be done.If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better. John Rushkin

You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you Leon Trotsky

Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat. Unknown

The best way to predict the future is to create it Unknown

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow Unknown

There will be hunters and hunted, winners and losers. What counts in global competition is the right strategy and success. Heinrich von Pierer

Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently William Arthur Ward

In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell Jack Welch

The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing Oscar Wilde

You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win Zig Zigler

Negative Strategy Quotes

The reason that everybody likes planning is that nobody has to do anything Jerry Brown

It is a bad plan that admits of no modification Publilius Syrus

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy Norman Schwarzkopf

A good deal of the corporate planning I have observed is like a ritual rain dance; it has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it think it does. Moreover, it seems to me that much of the advice and instruction related to corporate planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather. J. Brian Quinn

Have I Missed Your Favourite Strategy Quote?

If I’ve missed you’re favourite strategy quote, then I’d be delighted if you could add it as a comment.

As I find more that sum up the essence of strategy and strategic planning, I’ll be adding to this list of strategy quotations.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

What Can Ted Nugent Teach You About Personal Branding?

I adore classic rock music from the late sixties and the seventies and Ted Nugent is one of the stars that burst onto the scenes in the mid seventies when I started liking my music loud and heavy.

Differentiation By Who

Although I’m currently working with a young soul singer in the UK who has released one album so far to develop a more distinctive sound, image and general presence, you don’t have to want to be a rock or pop star to benefit from developing a strong personal brand.

It’s what I call differentiation by who.

I see it in the world of business advice and self help but it’s also there with celebrity cooks who can build chains of restaurants based on personal celebrity.

In fact, differentiation by who in terms of personal branding is open to any business which can build a strong element of “know, like and trust” with the business owner or key staff members.

Ted Nugent Is A Great Example Of A Personal Brand

According to his website www.tednugent.com

“In the past 50 years, Ted Nugent has done things that most musicians could only ever dream of, including setting attendance records at venues worldwide in 2005 and ’06, was the top grossing act in the world in 1977, ’78 & ’79, and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.”

The Void In the Hard Rock World

In the mid seventies the big British hard rock bands of the early seventies were in decline – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath had all peaked and while punk rock was the “in thing” in 1977 – there was a gap for someone to fill.

That someone was Ted Nugent with his blockbusting first three albums – Ted Nugent, Free For All and Cat Scratch Fever along with other acts like Kiss who are also worth talking about in terms of differentiation.

Ted Nugent – The Wild Man Of Rock’n’Roll

I always saw Ted Nugent as the wild man of rock’n’roll but his main nicknames were:

  • The Detroit Madman
  • The Motor City Mad Man
  • The Nuge

I think it’s time for an example of why – this is Stranglehold from 1976.

If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old

That’s Ted Nugent’s music philosophy summed up in a few words and the phrase was used to promote on of his mid seventies tours.

I must admit that I turn the volume down a few notches now but his music still gives me an adrenalin rush. His typical sound was fast, heavy and raw.

He’s still a top performer now as this video of  Cat Scratch Fever shows from 2010.

Ted Nugent Had A Strong Visual Image

A key element of the Ted Nugent personal brand was how he looked.

Long hair was a hard rock requirement and facial hair was common but no one else wore animal skins and loin cloths.

Ted Nugent And His Controversial Views

Another part of his personal brand was the way he courted controversy with some views that people found offensive while others lined up in support.

  • A strong anti-drugs and anti-alcohol stance
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  • Pro-guns and the right to bear arms
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  • Pro-hunting – he even owns a hunting lodge according to Wikipedia. I can’t agree with him on this as I believe canned hunting is sick. I can admire the bravery of the old Maasai warrior tradition of killing a lion on his own before he can become man because I know how big lions are and I wouldn’t do it but shooting a defenceless animal that can’t escape is wrong.
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  • Right wing political views

In The World Of The Bland, Ted Nugent Stands Out

You don’t have to like Ted Nugent or his music but he does create a lasting impression and stands for something.

His enduring success show that what he does works.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Customer Value Performance Matrix

I learnt about the Customer Value Performance Matrix from reading Customer Power by David Swaddling and Charles Miller which they called the Customer Perceived Value Performance Matrix.

It is another 2 x 2 matrix – like the Innovator’s Portfolio Matrix – that I find myself wondering “why didn’t I think of this?”

The Customer Value Performance Matrix

The customer value performance matrix lets you look at your individual customer value attributes and convert them into a SWOT analysis by identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The two axis are:

  • Relative performance which identifies good and bad attributes.
  • Relative importance from the customer’s perspective.

According to Swaddling and Miler you can calculate your relative performance of each attribute based on the customer’s next best alternative. This may be difficult to determine since it requires you to crunch through the customer value numbers to determine which is the best alternative (see Managing Customer Value).

Alternative ways would be to

  • Average the attributes across your main competitors and compare your performance against the average. This risks over-assessing your strengths and opportunities if there is one outstanding competitor who has a clear advantage, but if that’s the case, you can use that competitor as your benchmark in the customer value performance matrix.
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  • Picking the best customer value attribute performance from all the competitors which would be a tough test.

On the other axis, Relative Importance, Swaddling & Miller draw the cut-off line at 12.5%. I believe this depends on how many attributes you track in your customer value formula. If you’ve got five attributes then the dividing line would be 20% with a possible sample of importance ratings of 35%, 25%, 15%, 15% and 10%. If you’ve got eight in your customer value formula, then the 12.5% is appropriate.

SWOT From The Customer Value Performance Matrix

Strengths – high relative performance (i.e. you’re better than your competitors) but low relative importance. The customer value strategy would be to maintain performance.

Weaknesses – low relative performance and importance are low priority improvement targets unless they are order qualifiers and performance is below the threshold or risks falling below it.

Opportunities – high relative performance and importance – these are the competitive advantages of the business, the key factors of difference.

Threats – low relative performance but high relative importance – these attributes are priorities to the customer but the company does not perform as well as competitors. These are priorities to improve the underlying capabilities.

Putting Customer Value Into Perspective

Customer value can seem a complex, intangible concept when you start working with it but techniques like the Customer Value Performance Matrix help to make it much more relevant to sceptical management since it guides priorities and decisions.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning