One of my favorite parts of being a business coach is working on strategy. While many things need to go right for a business to succeed, without a solid and effective strategy, your business won’t stand a chance of rising to the top.
The best strategies stand for something. They make a clear choice about what they deliver and what they don’t. It’s about differentiating yourself from the competition in a unique and compelling way. A strategy is about choosing to be extremely good at a few things and a willingness to be bad at many others.
Once you successfully do this, you can truly stand behind your brand in a way that nobody else can. Once you pick how you’re going to be different, you create a powerful position that you can fully own. And since nobody does what you do, as well as you do it, you can confidently ask for a superior price and reap an above-average profit.
With a solid strategy, you can back up your brand with a clear promise to your customer. And if you’re really good, you can back up that promise with a guarantee. This promise and guarantee communicate why customers should choose your product/service and should remove all buying concerns in their mind.
A great example is the famous Domino’s pizza brand promise and guarantee. While there are many aspects of pizza delivery, their focus is on fast and hot. They don’t have to have the largest selection of toppings or the highest quality ingredients, but they make a promise that they will deliver your pizza in 30 minutes or less (their promise): and if they don’t, it’s free (their guarantee).
Creating a brand promise and guarantee will allow you to be more effective in your market. It broadcasts your positioning and draws the right customers to your business and repels the wrong ones. It also helps align your organization to deliver on those key and select-few processes and services you need to get absolutely right.
Here are the key steps for developing your brand promise and guarantee. Done well, these can transform your business and fuel your growth.
1. Who is your best customer?
Before you develop your positioning, you need to know who your target customer is. That starts by looking at your current customers and identifying who your best ones are and what they need and how they think. Once you understand these you can decide which needs and preferences you want to focus on in your strategy.
2. What do you want to be known for?
By focusing on your best customers and choosing the handful of things they care about, you create your positioning. Your positioning is what you are known for and what your reputation is built on. And by choosing a few key areas of focus, you make it easy to communicate. You can’t be all things to all people; it’s better to be a few things to a focused market segment.
3. What gives the customer hesitation to buy?
Once you have your positioning, focus on what gives your buyer hesitation to buy. What gives them pause or concern? Maybe they aren’t sure it will work, or that the motor won’t last, or that the color will fade, or that they will change their mind next week when they get home? Figure out what gets in the way of them saying “yes” to your offer.
4. What promise can you make to them?
Take those key hesitations and figure out what you can do to assuage their concerns. If they are worried that you’ll be out of stock of the right colors, promise that you’ll have the colors they need. If they are worried that the fabric will stain, promise that your fabric is stain-free.
5. What are you willing to suffer on?
Now that you have your promise, you need to decide what you’re willing to put on the line. A good guarantee communicates to your customer that you’re so confident in your ability to deliver that you’re willing to suffer serious pain if you don’t live up to your promise. Maybe the customer doesn’t have to pay, or you’ll provide another one for free, or you’ll redo the work until they are completely happy. It says to the customer, we stand behind our promise and put our money where our mouth is.
By focusing your positioning on just a few key customer needs and then building your promise and guarantee, you will communicate to the right customer what you stand for and why they should buy from you. But while a good promise and guarantee should be simple, getting them right will take hard work and tough decisions.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com. More from Inc.
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