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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Looking to Grow Your Business? Shift Your Thinking and Develop an “Outside-In" Culture

Now that the major economic crisis seems to be over, at least for the time being, we are now in the New Normality.  Shifting times call for a paradigm shift (I have always wanted to use that phrase!) in both thought and action so that we can better exploit new opportunities.

This is called “outside-in” thinking. It enables us to make sense of change, and seize the best insights and ideas to drive innovation and profitable growth. 

It makes us metaphorically stand outside the business and look at it from the customer’s pointy of view.

Here are some “outside-in” principles that will help you to thrive in the current business world.

  • Find the best markets for growth. Growth is no longer about selling more of what you have, or making your existing assets work harder. It is about finding the markets with most potential. Look across continents and sectors. Don’t be limited by what is comfortable or close.

  • Explore the new business landscape. Business can no longer be parochial. We all operate in global inter-connected and inter-dependent markets. Power has shifted from West to East, from big to small, from business to customer. New priorities like social and environmental are coming more into play.

  • Live in the customer’s world. Thinking like a customer is liberating. Take off your business blinkers and see what matters to your customers. Talk to them about their markets, their dreams and priorities, rather than products and prices. They will be more engaged too.

  • Treat customers as individuals not averages. We often seek to create average solutions for average customers. No wonder few are really delighted. Think about your customer as a real person. Learn about what drives him or her deeply.

  • Don’t just sell products, deliver experiences. We see the sales transaction as the culmination of our efforts; for the customer it’s just the beginning. Go beyond that little bit of after-sales support to deliver experiences that are personal in solutions and style that will endure over time.

  • Do business on their terms, not yours. Why should I want to read a random piece of irrelevant mail from you? Why should I want to do a search on you? Learn to engage and interact on customers terms – what, when, where and how they want – to make their life easier, not just yours.  Solve their WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?) problem.

  • Enable customers to achieve their dreams. Customers have ambitions, or at least problems to solve. That’s what they’re really interested in. Your products and even your services are just a means to address these issues.  Enable them to do things faster, better and bigger than they ever thought possible.

  • Embrace networks and partners. Physical and virtual networks are prime opportunities to connect with customers, embrace and build communities, connect with partners who have difference capabilities and relationships, and reach new places. Leverage the power of the web and enthusiastically embrace every possible networking opportunity.

  • Be more emotional and energising. Business is about people engaging with others. People are inspired by those who have vision, by those who can make sense of complexity and by those who understand them best. Find ways as a leader and as a business to engage your staff and customers in more emotional and energising ways.

  • Don’t aim to be the biggest - be the best. In a changing business world, the emphasis has shifted from scale and volume to relevance and difference. The profits are to be found in niches. Loyalty lies in personalisation. Embrace new opportunities first, new marketing techniques and new technologies.

It will take a major leap of faith to embrace all of those factors but if you do and change from a product approach to a customer driven culture then positive change will be achieved.

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