Have you ever noticed how some businesses continually struggle to stay afloat? It's usually those that don’t offer a product or service that stands out above the competition. If you don’t have anything to tempt customers to buy your product over a rival's product, you’re minimising the opportunity of a sale and increasing the likelihood of your business just staying afloat. This occurs when a firm is ‘stuck in the middle’ and fails to understand its strategic position.
A lack of direction
More often than not, being stuck in the middle is due to the absence of a clear set of objectives, or it may be an even bigger issue such as a lack of strategic direction. It is those businesses that possess strategic direction and clear objectives that drive them forwards more quickly than rival firms, achieving successes as they push to notch up specific objectives. Having defined goals gives a business a purpose, a mission, possibly even an advantage as the workforce can become energised to meet the demands set by the leadership. But the problem is that most businesses simply don’t set clear objectives for the firm to drive towards. They are too busy keeping the cogs turning to take a long term view and map out a desired future state for their organisation. This is an all-to-frequent characteristic of the average business that’s just trying to keep the monthly numbers up.
No clear target market
Firms that are stuck in the middle have often taken their eye off the ball and tend not to price competitively, although many will claim to be competitive despite their failure to actually scope out rival pricing policies. Another characteristic is that they don’t understand their target market and fail to market appropriately to them, adopting a broad brush approach to tactical marketing. Sure, the 'scatter gun' technique will bring some return on investment, but imagine if it was done with a more acute focus on the real target audience? Refined messages, tailored specifically to the customer and delivered from a channel that they actually use will clearly have a greater impact than the broad brush approach. Yet so many firms just can’t seem to get their heads around this methodology.
So what is the answer?
The first step to avoid getting stuck in the middle is to create a preference for your business over a competitor in the mind of your customers. When a business provides a product or service which clearly has something special that differentiates it from the competition, it becomes the easy choice for selection. Customers will go wherever they can to get the best value. Therefore, seeking out a way to deliver the greatest possible value to your clients will ensure that they select your business over a competitor. The next stage is to identify the most suitable market or segments, then the customers - the targets. Once you understand what your segments are and the targets within those segments - and I mean really understand them via profiling - you can begin to gain an insight into what they value about your offering and then how you go about marketing to them. Within this process, you will probably begin to realise that what you were doing previously was inappropriate and unspecific to your market. You will also start to understand how effectively you can connect with your audience now you know what they value, and how easy it is to prevent your business from being stuck in the middle.
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