1st Step to Catapult Conversions

New entries to business today tend to be fairly savvy. Anyone willing to do a bit of Google searching can learn some common terms and concepts. Everyone knows that conversions (sales) are the goal. So, why are so many being drained of their funds – month after month – by ineffective tactics?

Tactics without Strategy is the Noise before Defeat.

– Sun Tzu

As we know, being able to recognize a term like Branding does not mean that the value of the concept is automatically understood. Yet when it comes to business success, whether for a startup or an existing venture poised to climb to the next level, comprehending the value of a Brand – designed to resonate with the target audience – can literally enable a venture to thrive (or keep it from failing), particularly since effective Brands drive conversion.

Realizing the need to systematically implement foundational elements first, including a well-crafted Brand Identity as the bedrock for business growth, can indeed mean the difference between an operation struggling or failing → and catapulting forward. Ignoring the basics is not a shortcut. That choice, instead, costs volumes of wasted time and money.

Creating and implementing an effective Brand ID is as fundamental as vetting the business concept and model for viability before going to market. There are some core pieces that simply must be in place, setting a company on the right path, in order for add-ons to work at all.

Frequency of confusion about this – plagued by lack of understanding regarding the baseline importance of a systematized approach to the fundamentals – in fact, was the impetus for: Brand Identity – Foundation for Conversion. It highlights why and how the right design and use of a consistent Brand Message (visuals, talking points, alignment across all points of presence) sets the stage for converting new contacts to customers.

What came to light again this week, via a new prospect operation that has been struggling for more than 10 years, confirmed that one article was simply not enough. While clearly there is much more to know behind the scenes in order to create and leverage a Brand effectively, the main message requires more attention in order to arm business owners who are making these decisions.

Regardless of which tactical avenue a company thinks they should use – i.e. increased spending on channels like SEO, PR blasts, or social media ads – they typically expect it to instantly solve their problems and win them sales. In fact, many are led to believe that it can. Without the right foundation in place first, this is simply not true.

The enormous disconnect about ‘tactics first’ is tanking businesses that could otherwise thrive. Aimlessly throwing money around sets a stage for nothing except lost funds. Yet, somehow a dominant segment of eCommerce business owners seems to think that having a high Google rank will score them customers, regardless of how the website presents.

Naturally, this type of confused disconnect has a source. The source here is the deliberately misleading and rabid promotion online of: (1) high website rankings as a Holy Grail, (2) the notion that sweeping PR exposure equates to interest and conversion, and (3) belief that an ad format alone will drive sales.

On the other hand, once crucial foundational pieces are effectively in place, tactical campaigns – that actually align with the strategic business direction – can be introduced. When that occurs, the right tactical channels can be leveraged for beneficial outcomes.

Otherwise, who would expect to gain growth from spraying water at a wall? This is the effect without a system in place to create capture.

water at wall - logo

Until the ground has been prepared and treated, seeds have been planted, and the soil richly fed, nothing can be expected to grow. Throwing water around where no fertile business soil exists – not to mention seeds – causes only the water bill to skyrocket…rather than the intended sales or profits.

Instead, when a proven systematic approach is used, this positions a business to automate and consistently replicate processes that secure winning results. Vet the concept, develop an effective model, plan strategically, develop and implement the Brand Message, and prepare to choose the right promotional campaigns through a strategic channel selection that will distribute the message in the most favorable directions. All of this should be done prior to launch for optimal outcomes.

replicable, automated system

With a Brand Identity in place, those who encounter your business for the first time can recognize who you are and what makes you special (why they should do business with you instead of the competition) instantly. They will begin to recall your differentiated value each time they digest the consistent Brand Message and see the aligned visuals, leading to Brand Recognition.

Like irrigation, every tactical campaign layered on top of a properly established foundation: enhances your position, increases traction, and causes a higher rate of conversions. Now, the money invested in replicable tactics is getting your message to the right place, poised for effective outcomes, rather than falling into a vacuum.

If you were either unfamiliar with these distinctions prior, or were misled – having launched by trying one of many spray-the-wall methods (without a systematic and strategic foundation) – it is never too late to put the right pieces in place. Channel those valuable funds, and that crucial time, in a productive direction.

Strategy must precede tactics every time. Set the stage first. Look at the big picture. Consider the targets, goals, and resources available (budget, personnel, etc.). Taking time to put the right pieces in place will change the entire landscape, and favorably impact the outcomes: in this case, setting the stage for effective conversions, and setting a course for profitability.

>>> Business Building TIPS, TOOLS & TRUTHS: Revealed!<<<

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT © 2001 – 2017

 

Top 1% Transformational Consulting

 

We delight in catapulting growth. From a basis of experience with more than 1/3 of the F500 & global NPOs, we gap-close through Best Practices.

Over 16 years…

From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including Website Front-End design), Marketing Strategies to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch gain gap-closing Best Practices & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, international, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500. Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

 

Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

 Over 16 years of contributing internationally to our clients.

www.StrategyGBD.com

http://strategygbd.co/downloads/business-building-tips

Much Ado About Lean Canvas

> Business Plan Process: as Crucial as the Result <

Attention grabbing: that’s the point. When authors attempt to pen a bestseller, they often aim to introduce fresh ideas, a new spin, or a different solution to a common problem. The glitch that unsuspecting buyers don’t realize: an idea recently crafted to become popularized (like Lean Canvas) may, in fact, not actually be the right solution.

Books are sold, so the idea gains traction. Yet, in the end, the book buyers – and in this case, businesses – fail as a result of the ill advice they paid to access.

Over the past year or two, our firm has seen an increase in inquiries about a Lean Canvas approach…in lieu of creating a complete, comprehensive Business Plan. The public has been coached to embrace the false idea that: (1) both are equally effective, (2) a Lean Canvas is flexible while a Business Plan is set in stone, and (3) a Lean Canvas provides a reliable shortcut to efficient growth.

None of these purported theories can actually ring true in practical application. So, misguided bootstrapping businesses and their owners are falling victim to some very unwise, very dangerous misdirection: while those proposing it are profiting from the newer spin.

The pivotal point here is: the merits and advantages gained through constructing a Business Plan can even surpass the value of the final product and roadmap itself. Proof is in the process, and the devil is indeed in the details.

Problematic details cannot come to light, enabling essential gap closure, when attempting to hopscotch past a time-proven and diligent process. The process is what provides and opportunity to see and improve the strategy.

In fairness, those whom we have seen promoting the Lean Canvas approach earned some success in prior ventures. Naturally, this is the source of their credibility.

This is also the reason they were able to build new ventures on the foundation of essentially an outline… instead of taking a deeper examination of influencing factors, timing, market positioning, and financials: they were replicated what they had done before and felt they already knew the way.

They had walked down the same road, and intended to follow that direction again. They were not, in fact, building from scratch like their audience of new business owners.

The fatal flaw: promotion of Lean Canvas as a time-saving solution is like taking a grade school ball player and tossing them into the Majors, NBA, or NFL. How long is that likely to last? What impact from injuries should they expect to sustain? Are they even likely to survive the first minutes of the first game? Who would EVER put them in?

As businesses owners, we put ourselves in the game. We take calculated risks, and look for trusted resources to offer guidance.

So, this remote Lean Canvas “coach” with no investment in an independent player’s success = an enormous and untrustworthy disconnect. Yet, promotional campaigns support it because there are books and events and other trainings to sell. People inadvertently have attached credibility, due to mere publicity, where it does not belong.

Plus, unlike a paid role in professional sports, business owners are risking hard-earned, or borrowed, finances in addition to their personal wellbeing. Statistics prove that 9 out of 10 businesses already fail. There is no reason to tip the scales even further against potential success.

Here is the truth: failing to properly plan is responsible for the demise of most businesses that never reach their 5-year mark. Understand where you need to invest.

Arm your business to succeed. Smart bootstrapping owners and executive teams realize that a solid plan will not only keep them in the game, it will also save them substantial time and money along the way.

Need help with strategic planning? Understand the actual roots of proposed advice before aligning your time, budget, and future accordingly.

Avoid becoming a compound victim of not knowing what you don’t know. Enable your venture to thrive, rather than struggling to even survive.

 

http://strategygbd.co/downloads/business-building-tips

www.StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2016

→ Clients in more than a dozen countries worldwide

15 years of results for emerging & mid-sized ventures

Business Plans to Brand Identity (including Website Front-End), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing, results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

http://strategygbd.co/downloads/business-building-tips

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You Can’t Hack Fundamentals…

Analytics Aren’t Everything

“Growth is about doing business fundamentals well, not finding one sneaky lever for exponential growth.”

– Andy Johns (Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Wealthfront)


Everywhere we turn, it’s: ‘hack this, analyze that’. Yes, automation can offer tremendous advantages. Analytics, like accurate Financials, can reveal important pieces of the puzzle.

But effort and outcome must collaborate, like any effective team. Quantitative must learn to play well with Qualitative, or company operations will suffer the consequences.

Everyone wants the shortcut. This is human nature. Instant gratification became a cultural norm long ago.

Truth is: no growth can be sustainably hacked without a solid foundation for a market-worthy product or service. Bedrock, upon which we build, must be established first. The pendulum must swing back to the middle, or gaps in awareness necessary for growth and business nurturing will undermine even a seemingly steady enterprise.

This is not a new epidemic. It has been incubating for decades, since the term performance ‘metrics’ first started gaining traction.

Our gaping blind spot here is akin to ignoring the necessity for EQ (emotional intelligence) in sales team members, assuming standardized testing can assess all potential factors related to future success, and leaping to the conclusion that computers can replace people because they can be programmed to replicate certain tasks.

Logic fails – as do results – when we eliminate crucial components. The machine needs all necessary parts in order to function properly.

This is precisely the point: Strategy (big picture) and Tactics (task-orientation) are 2 different animals. When they collaborate effectively, great results can emerge. When we forget which one leads, we might as well be steering a Flintstones car: we have dismissed the essential engine.

Astonishing, groundbreaking, landmark growth requires evaluation and understanding of the Qualitative & Quantitative together. Run the analytics; but, we must be sure to monitor with human eyes: (1) what we’re measuring, (2) how we see and measure it, and (3) why.

Find a balance. Use reason. Employ experience and seasoned expertise.

If inspiration, awareness, and imagination are seeds of the most remarkable innovations, we are wise to water and fertilize the blossoming greenery with these as well. We must use each of the best tools available, and imagine we can get the right solution by relying solely on one.

 

StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting: 2001 – 2017

From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

→ Over 16 years of contributing internationally to client success!

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>>>>>> BRAND Identity <<<<<

Foundation for Conversions

Identity + Reach ^ Traction > Conversions

Designing and implementing effective positioning, tools, systems, and processes establishes a solid foundation for growth. Many budding and young ventures could benefit from a deeper understanding of how and why an effective Brand design/message positioning package marks your territory. The concept encompasses far more than just a logo and name.

Due to a high churn rate (9 out of 10 businesses fail: YouTube: 5 Reasons for STRATEGY) among the 540,000 businesses that begin monthly in the US alone, we can see the benefit in making your business memorable and instantly relevant to your targets. Planners win.

A well-crafted Brand Identity is essential to this winning strategy. Make sure yours is in place, and working for you by the time you open your doors or launch online.

Confusion about the need for, and process behind, full development of a solid Brand Identity keeps many emerging ventures in the dark about what actually drives conversion. Online propaganda, advertising, and blog posts about SEO lead less experienced business owners and executives to believe that Search Engine Optimization and analytics (tactics) are the primary road to snagging and holding visitor attention. Even worse, the promoted belief is: with enough traffic, sales will automatically follow.

This flawed logic skips past the essentials: image and message positioning effectiveness, agreement, consistency, clarity, and calls to action must be prominently integrated as a strategic core. Without a clear, clean, credible expression of Brand Identity – on a website, and throughout every other promotional channel & point of presence – there is nothing for a customer to recognize about your differentiation that will compel them to purchase from you instead of the competition.

Yet the myth prevails: “if you build it [and invest hundreds or thousands monthly in SEO], they will come.” You may eventually get traffic. Of course, even with good content-based SEO, that takes time. Bottom-line: where’s the formula for converting any traffic you may receive, regardless of its source?

That is where your Brand message serves its purpose. This core foundation shows (and briefly tells) your targets what you can offer them that other businesses cannot.

Here’s the problem: if new visitors are given no reason to stick and stay, you have lost them forever. Bounce new visitors, and lose their potential spend: revenue & profit potential for the lifetime of the customer.

Attention spans are short. People have no interest in wading through paragraphs and pages of text to find a solution to their problem when they get ready to buy. They need to be able to instantly see and realize why they should do business with you instead of the competition.

A visitor who arrives on your website with an explicit need, ready to make a purchasing decision, wants to be immediately shown why they should buy from you: what is your value proposition? If that is not evident, when a page is cluttered, disorganized, text laden, or focused on features instead of benefits…that visitor is headed to the next site.

Being prepared with an effective, compelling Brand Identity from the time of launch means making the most of every interaction. Grab attention and engage interest. Develop that interest and increase traction. Reinforce that traction by converting the visitor into a customer. Also, offer each visitor a reason to tell their friends about your business too, in order to secure quick-converting referrals.

Brand Identity development requires thinking strategically about how you want to be seen and remembered. What speaks to your audience and their needs? What will they recognize and recall about your product or service? What do you want them to associate with, and understand about, your Brand message when they see your logo?

In the same way that we select a specific suit, phone, computer, briefcase, articulated terminology, hairstyle, set of mannerisms, and posture to convey our personal image…this is the way we must consider expressing our venture’s best assets: through a cogent Brand Identity that eventually reinforces Brand Recognition as well. A name, logo, URL, image series, and/or combination of talking points that requires decoding and lengthy explanations is not going to serve our purpose.

After all, Nike, Google, Apple, Adidas, Amazon and the other big brands have spent billions in outbound marketing campaigns over decades of time to become etched in the public’s memory and psyche. Unless you have the budget for that (even if you did, you still want to address your targets and their explicit needs as a priority), craft a Brand ID that shows, rather than having to tell.

Another way to think of this is showcasing the experience of your company and its products/services. With luxury cars as your product, you may be inclined to discuss horsepower, maneuverability, performance, and other features of the vehicle. However, what makes an impression – and sells cars – is a driver behind the wheel feeling the difference: experiencing the benefits. After all, 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.

We make in the neighborhood of 10,000 decisions every day. Decisions come faster and easier when we can follow our feelings for the right direction to take. Offers that evoke emotions always win.

Clearly, effectiveness of Brand Identity – far more than a logo, slogan, and color scheme – makes or breaks businesses every day. Companies that recognize this fact, and its importance, are the ones that endure. They find success, market share, mind share, and revenues at every stage of growth. After all, they planned for it → they designed it that way.

StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2017

From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

→ Over 16 years of contributing internationally to client success!

Facebook.com/StrategyGBD

@StrategyGBD ~> twitter.com/StrategyGBD

Learn more or get started now: StrategyGBD.com

Time is the One Resource…

We Cannot Manufacture or Recapture ©

This title is our mantra…for a very good reason. That reason speaks for itself. Let’s take another look at why time is our most precious resource.

We are acutely aware of how – early on during each new year – a dirty word surfaces again. For one reason or another, the shame-oriented concept of procrastination begins to appear with fierce frequency.

Truth is: most who find themselves off-track from a goal or aspiration have instead actually encountered challenges or distractions. We are busy; even busier than yesterday somehow. So now, we must increase effective prioritization, and realign our focus with deliberate urgency around the important payoffs → in terms of opportunity cost.

February is nearly over. Even with an extra day this year, the month inevitably flies. January’s resolutions may have already been neglected by now, and even otherwise disappeared, as we realize that we are more than midway through Q1.

Nonetheless, life fails to pause or give us our time back. We must keep moving forward, juggling competently, and keeping all of the balls in the air.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

   ~ Pablo Picasso

It is 2016. We all pack far more into a schedule these days than we ever did before. Expectations are higher, and there is no going back to the way it used to be. Access to, and popularity of, smart phones, tablets, and other technological tools implies that we can do it all faster.

We need a strategy. Opportunity cost is often too high a price to pay.

Time Management may sound like some elusive means of wrangling organization from the otherwise current comfort zone that we modeled after a version of the Einstein desk. In truth, it is simply an apt label for: (1) understanding what needs to be done, (2) prioritizing according to value, urgency, and potential outcome, (3) seeing the prioritized tasks through to completion, and (4) reaping the reward and accomplishment that follows.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

   ~ Stephen King

While it is believed that at least 20% of the population is inclined to perpetually or chronically procrastinate, another factor that influences a propensity toward deferral is distraction. Distractions abound, and have even become embedded segments of our daily lives.

They can easily occur, even in the workplace, due to the universal adoption of smart phone use. Since each social media platform or App game – for example – is designed to engage for at least a few minutes at a time, this interruption is enough to disrupt and sideline otherwise productive activities. The flow of work productivity is lost, and it takes longer to get back in that zone. That momentary distraction then becomes a compound loss.

“There is a price to pay to make the changes you want in life. There is also a price you’re already paying for staying the way you are. You have to weigh these 2 prices and decide what to do based on that comparison, and no one else can do that for you.”

   ~ Bill Harris

In fact, Psychology Today concludes that by deferring, we self-sabotage. Typically, we think of these things in terms of avoiding responsibilities, or habitually putting tasks off. So, instead of making a subconscious choice not to succeed, we can reframe this in the mind.

When we motivate ourselves by what we have to gain through action, this generates excitement. Perception is reality, and we can shape that toward success.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

   ~ Jim Rohn

Beyond self-satisfaction, effective prioritization around growth goals can lead to a spectrum of favorable outcomes. Increased earnings, enhanced trust in relationships, improved confidence, and peace of mind are just a few of the many invigorating outgrowths from a willingness to embrace and cultivate the goals and accomplishments that invigorate us along the journey.

Pleasant responses and encouragement trigger other good feelings as a reward for investing time where it will produce additional benefits. Recalling and tapping into those positive reinforcements helps to create a new series of habits: supporting improvement and growth instead of deferrals. It can take just 21 days of consistent repetition and reinforcement to begin permanently establishing a new habit. In less than a month, the need for that conscious choice in favor of your prioritized goal has simply become the new protocol: status quo.

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”

   ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

When we forget reality and assume that ample time will always be available to accomplish and experience all that intrigues us, then we are less inclined to take the necessary steps to move in the direction of our goals. By thinking in terms of the big picture first, we can develop a vision of where we want to go. Then, we can determine the more specific path to reach that destination.

Whether buying a house, pursuing a new job or client, taking a vacation or other special trip, choosing the next vehicle, or deciding where to go to school, each of these milestones deserves some forethought. By taking time to plan, and determining how to reach each milestone in pursuit, we can also savor anticipation along the way as we aproach closer and closer. Then, journey itself also becomes the very rich reward.  

StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2016

From Business Plan to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in more than a dozen countries worldwide.

→ Celebrating 15 years of contributing to client success!

Facebook.com/StrategyGBD

@StrategyGBD ~> twitter.com/StrategyGBD

Learn more or get started now: StrategyGBD.com