Are you ready to lift your business plan off the ground? Are you ready to create a strategy that will equip you fully to reach your goals? Are you ready to complete some of the sharpest exercises to help you do so? Yes… Now let us share some industry knowledge and hints and tips to get you on your jolly way.
When building a strategy for your business, an initial step is to build the profile of the business parameters, the next step is to frame the strategy…
So, here’s some ways in which you can kick your strategy off the ground :
1) Research/investigate your business idea
2) Compile as much information as possible
3) Analyse information and data such as the following :
- What we know about the business’ potential customers
- What we know about the business’ future competitors
- What we know about the business strengths and weaknesses
For this, we would recommend using a Venn diagram which we’ll call Unique Business Position (similar to a USP, unique selling proposition, but taking on other aspects in the whole context)
Unique Business Position Venn Diagram Exercise
So, here we are doing a compilation of:
1) what your customers want
2) what your competitors are good at
3) what your business is good at
Make a list for each section of the below Venn diagram, this will help you visualise your unique business position…
The “Category benefits “are the must-offer, basic and minimal offering in a given business area or product/service category. But your business must offer more. A common mistake in strategies is to think the basic category benefits are enough, OR if you think that this basic, mandatory offering is a unique offering of yours, something that you only own…
The Unique Business Position defines what is truly unique about your business and your offering. It is your differentiating factor and your edge, your advantage over your competitors — as well as the special, specific, most important needs, desires and mindset of your customers.
This is the crux of your brand positioning
EXERCISE 1: The Benefits Ladder
The benefits ladder is a scalable pathway, a strategic tool to grow and evolve your brand.
You can’t create a sound positioning statement without building it from the ground up in a brand ladder. Think of it as a foundation of the house because it’s built from the ground up.
- Functional benefits: Product attributes and functional benefits of your product and service.
- Emotional benefits: Higher order benefits, mental and emotional, in your customers’ mindset.
- Reasons to Believe (“RTBs”): Factual reasons why your customer should believe in your brand benefits.
The benefits ladder has many uses…
- It allows you to see where your brand position is, and to reflect on how the brand might be pushed to deliver on ever more emotional benefits.
- It also prevents promising something customers won’t believe and won’t understand or which cannot be delivered. Always better to under-promise, and over-deliver…
Why should companies aim to move up on this ladder, towards emotional / aspirational benefits rather than promising to only deliver functional benefits?
1) Profit Margin
The larger the emotional benefit, the more customers are willing to pay. People are willing to pay more to FEEL special than for a product with a special attribute.
2) Your Positioning Level
The higher you are on the benefits ladder, the more difficult it is for your competitors to compete with you or copy your strategy… It’s easy to copy a product attribute, it’s harder to emulate the brand promise of ‘being or feeling special’.
3) Room to Grow
The higher you are on the ladder, the more room you have to expand your portfolio with a wider offering, to diversify and grow laterally.
A great example of this is
Brands who demonstrate strong emotional benefits can usually charge a premium over those brands who rely only on functional benefits. The iconic Coca Cola brand understands this well.
Coke’s functional benefits are about being refreshing and thirst quenching, but the brand never talks about those. Coke is all about opening happiness. What does this mean? It means Coke is about celebrating life, those special occasions that create strong, powerful and emotional memories and it’s about doing it with a coke in your hand. This is pure emotional benefit. “Taste The Feeling”
Other Brand Drivers…
In addition to functional and emotional benefits, other brand-driving benefits can also be self-expressive or societal or economic benefits that the brand delivers, which can stretch and expand the definition of the brand (i.e. see Body Shop promise or Nike promise). These can also be created by the attributes of the brand itself (like ‘glamourous’ or ‘luxurious’ etc.)
- Economic benefits: How a product saves time and money.
- Self-expressive benefits: How a product makes us appear to others.
- Societal benefits: How it benefits to society or to the environment.
Now that you have defined where you would like to position your brand, based on your research and analysis, you’re ready to create your brand positioning statement and brand promise!