Mktg & Leadership Insight

It’s hard for leaders to choose just one strategy to focus….after all, isn’t it better to appeal to many different audiences? Actually not, if you want your customer to remember what you stand for….how are you different from competition?

This is the suggestion from author Michael Treacy in his book titled “The Disciplines of Market Leaders.” There are some powerful messages here that leaders should probe to increase performance.

The book describes three overall strategic alternatives: Operational Excellence, Product Innovation, and Customer Intimacy. Firms should implement pieces of all of these BUT FOCUS on ONE to truly stand out and be great!! What defines these strategies?

Operational Excellence……think Walmart, Southwest airlines, and Dell Computer as examples. This is a best value, low price focus. Firms tend to be highly centrally controlled regarding decisions and operate in a very disciplined, structured format. Extra frills are rejected….everyone is focused on saving every penny, or dollar and delivering outstanding value to the customer at the best price…..consistently. Does this define your company?

Product or Service Innovation……think Apple Computer, Intel, Sony, Toyota as examples. This is a best product, premium price, and leading edge innovator focus. Firms tend to be focused around product life cycles, they might even obsolete their own products to develop the next generation of features for customer preference. The organization is structured in product teams, often not functional lines, and creativity and best in class is valued. Rapid change is a part of their existence. Does this define your company?

Customer Intimacy…..think Ritz-Carlton, Nordstrom’s as examples. This is a focus on the customer as king and creation of activities based on what the customer wants….the ultimate in empowerment of your employees to do whatever is necessary to satisfy the customer. Your service is premium priced, but the customer is willing to pay for the extra benefits. Your objective is to generate a WOW response from the customer based on your responsiveness and the initiative taken by your employees. Does this define your company?

These three strategies are quite different. The difficult choice is for you to choose ONE to place your focus. You cannot perform all three with equal focus….too many elements are contradictory and you will confuse your audience as well as your team. Be black or white to your audience……pick a strategy!! Try to focus on all three… will appear grey to your audience and be mediocre, at best.