Will Your Brand Benefit from ‘More of the Same’ Strategy, or Do You Need Fresh Insights?
If you’re looking to develop or build a growth strategy for your organization, a quick Google search will uncover a number of off-the-shelf growth strategy frameworks to choose from and many snappy visuals. There are the top 5 business frameworks, the top 7 frameworks for businesses and even a startling 51. Looking across these, a few strategy frameworks rise to the top as consistently selected They are:
- Ansoff Matrix
- Porter’s Five Forces Analysis
- BCG Growth Share Matrix
- Scenario Planning Matrix
- Value Chain Analysis
As a practical matter, few brands and organizations we’ve worked with invest the time to flesh out all five of these strategy frameworks, or even one of them.
Internal Brand Focus Often Drives Growth Strategy Framework and Analysis
In our experience, the growth strategy framework we’ve observed used most frequently by management teams is SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). This popularity seemingly is driven by the fact that SWOT Analysis can be completed quickly and qualitatively (hence satisfying), and does not necessarily require a lot of pesky data gathering (though of course data gathering could be done).
After completing their own brand or organization’s SWOT analysis, some teams will go on for extra credit to complete SWOT analysis for their primary competitors. Commonly missing from this effort is any customer or market perspective. It is a self-assessment and can be myopic.
To compound the internal focus, brand and entrepreneurial teams often start with a prototype or fully-developed product or service, and then examine what market can fit their product or service. This is a view of the world through the lens of the factory window, whether a physical factory or a software factory.
An outside perspective from a growth strategy consulting firm can provide a useful counterbalance to this internally-weighted view.
Driving Growth Strategy from Market and Customer Insights
When Insight to Action builds a growth strategy framework with our client teams, we place greater emphasis on understanding the drivers of market trends and growth and the needs of customers. We work across industries, in both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) models. Examples of Insight to Action’s growth strategy work include Safeco Insurance, Perfumania and handheld snacks.
Examine the Balance of External Input to Growth Strategy Framework vs. Internal Analysis to Choose the Right Growth Strategy Consulting Firm
If your organization is selecting an external partner, like Insight to Action, or other growth strategy consultancy, we suggest considering how much of the work’s time and budget will be spent on different areas of emphasis. How much of the total effort will be spent analyzing the organization’s own data and working with internal teams when contrasted with gathering market and customer data?
If the work takes twelve weeks, for instance, will half the time be spent on internal analysis and half the time spent on external analysis? We recommend that the majority of the time be spent on the external market and customer analysis.
In our experience, many large consulting firms will focus heavily on analyzing the organization’s own data. This means that the most important insights must come from history and the firm’s historical perspective. The typical result is a strategy of “more of the same,” e.g., getting more business from the same customers and/or offering additional products to those same customers.
In many ways, historical customers can be considered lower hanging fruit, and if the market is not changing rapidly and your brand is delivering against that market segment, this may bear fruit. It falls far short, however, of providing insight into new customers and new markets.
Other Growth Strategy Framework Approaches Commonly Observed
Another approach we see frequently is copying an existing product and business model, putting a twist on the product or service, and/or focusing the copycat product on a specific market segment. For instance, while Uber offers rides for all customers, Los Angeles-based HopSkipDrive delivers, “Safe, dependable rides for kids 6+ with fully-vetted, fingerprinted caregivers.”
Some brands also consider how their business model can create and maintain sustainable business advantage when compared to existing competitors, or perhaps even pursue a Blue Ocean Strategy approach in pursuing new markets. As long as market and customer data are meaningfully used to develop these growth strategy frameworks, we have found these approaches to be useful. In practice, however, we’ve seen an alarming amount of low-quality, poorly-executed market research and insights work used to validate the management team’s going hypothesis. It’s quick and easy to jump on Survey Monkey, write biased questions, and get the answers that are desired.
How is your brand thinking about growing over the next three to five years? Will a “more of the same” strategy get your organization to where it needs to be? Or, do you need to take a step back and get some new insights for fresh growth strategy approaches? To start a conversation, contact us.