Friday, January 30, 2015

Positioning for Growth: Some Questions

An interesting question arose for me that came up in a conversation involving two other business owners, one who is eager to flex his muscles and expand the business by offering additional services.  The capacity is there: this business has equipment that isn't fully utilized, and can add personnel to deploy the equipment.  But he was baffled: how, he asked, can he position his marketing to reflect the proposed change?  what kind of business should he think of himself being in?

I cautioned to step back just a bit.  There are two ways to approach this conundrum.  One is the confident, risk-tolerant "just do it" approach.  Define yourself as you imagine yourself to be.  There's a high risk doing this, of course.  The market may not be there, but it is a valid approach.  There are all kinds of business success stories where the wider mindset paid off.

The other approach is for a more conservative business owner.  And that is to take the informed risk.  Assess the marketplace, and if the water is inviting, proceed with the expansion.  In his case this was a simple matter of engaging the well-defined customers in conversations to understand their needs and how they are solving problems (and where new help is welcomed).  The downside here is that sometimes the target customer doesn't know what they want, exactly, and a service or product that excites them can arise from nowhere (think iPad as a classic example.)

I'd recommend the second approach every time if for no better reason than to possess a greater understanding of the potential market.  I think that proceeding with no market intelligence may be gutsy but is also unwise.  My business owner conversationalist would not only be better informed about customer situations, could avoid clear problems with his concept, and might just discover an entirely unexpected opportunity.

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