We’ve now (just about) emerged from a long recession…so what are the tell tale signs of businesses who aren’t ready to take advantage of the next wave of growth? In this blog Strategy expert Gaynor McIntyre discusses the importance of going back to the roots of your business and refreshing your product offering.
Last year we were invited to a family event in the north of Scotland. My husband booked a room in a local hotel; the pictures online were promising so we set off looking forward to a bit of pampering and luxury for a couple of nights. When we were shown to our room my heart sank. Greeting us was a stained carpet, pillows that had been sat on by an elephant, old bedding, a gloomy shabby bathroom suite and curtains you could spit peas through. Not helped by my husband chipping in, “Oh well, never mind, we’ll hardly be in the room.” Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Romance in this dump, not a chance!” So off I popped to see if we could change rooms hoping in vain that an upgrade was possible, only to be met with a surly receptionist who barked, “the hotel is full”, clearly unable to deal with a prickly guest like me. It was a long weekend in a very mediocre hotel, and hell will freeze over before I go back!
Then I put on my consultancy hat. Here was quite simply a tired product that was in desperate need of a refresh, some good marketing to promote it and some training for the staff to feel proud of the product they represented. But I suspect, like many businesses they have found themselves in the impossible Catch 22 situation of knowing they need to invest but lack the money or energy to do so.
Having a product conversation is possibly one of the most invigorating chats I can have with a client. When I was training to be a business coach I learned so many interesting questions to ask, many of which resulted in emerging or repackaged products that clients could then go away and explore. So for example…
- What is your product or service?
- Is what you are selling the same thing as what people are buying?
- What do you get paid for?
- What are your clients really buying?
- Why do clients buy your product?
I work with a solicitor whose specialises in divorce and is brilliant, with a fantastic reputation in the market. But in itself, divorce does not fill people with a lot of positive energy. So I asked my client, “When people buy you how are they feeling and what are they like when the divorce is finished?” She replied, “Well when clients come to me they are usually in an emotionally volatile situation. I get them out of that situation and give them their lives back. They leave me knowing what they have and what they need to do to move their lives forwards.”
Bingo! How much more engaging does that feel rather than saying you ‘specialise in divorce’.
I encourage my clients to revisit their product suite regularly. Whether it is to refresh, extend, unbundle or bundle, or even build new products from scratch I take them through a process that injects energy and innovation within a commercial context.
And nine times out of ten, out pops a variation of an existing product or something new that means the client can go back to all their customers with something fresh to talk about.
We’ve probably all experienced the tired hotel room that I explained earlier on – so stand back and, using the analogy of the room, rate your own product proposition on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is ‘very tired’ to 10 which is ‘leading edge’. Score yourself less than a 7.5 and you’ll probably be missing a few tricks and definitely not making as much money as you could.
Business strategy expert Gaynor McIntyre has over 20 years of consultancy and business coaching experience. To discuss your business needs and goals and how our Strategic Planning service can help you call us on 01383 721421 or email email@example.com.