Recently at an entrepreneur camp for high school students, I worked with several teams in preparing a 3 minute pitch to sell their inventions and innovations to a panel of professionals. My focus was to help these young entrepreneurs identify their business and product strengths so they could convincingly sell us on their idea in a very short amount of time — much like the real world.
I shared my experience in managing sales teams and evaluating investor presentations about what works and what does not work in pitching. I let them know that even the most seasoned professionals can mistakenly focus on the “hot” features without direct alignment to what makes you stand out against your competition.
My lesson, you must compete for mind share before you get market share. Whether selling your idea, your services, your business or just you, always use your valuable marketing resources to promote what makes you better than the rest — your strengths!
Have you identified your market strengths? Recently? And once you found your strengths, have you effectively managed and built them up in your marketing?
The easiest tool to define your strengths is the simple risk assessment that every marketing plan must include — SWOT Analysis. No matter the size of your business, you must know your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
If you have already completed a SWOT analysis on your company, product or service, dust it off and review it today. Is it still accurate? Hopefully you have evolved! Your strengths are not set in stone. They are dynamic based on competition, economics, innovation, market growth or decline and shifting attitudes toward your business and products from consumers and employees.
If you have not completed a SWOT Analysis, take out a piece of paper now. Draw four boxes and label them: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In each box, list out what you currently say, believe or understand as your strengths and your weaknesses, the opportunities you see where you can grow and threats in your business to achieving your goals.
This initial SWOT Analysis is meant to be quick; however, a thorough strategic marketing plan will take more time and resources for a complete evaluation. You will ultimately want an assessment that has multiple inputs including employees, executives, vendors, partners and current, potential and lost customers.
A SWOT analysis is useful to make sure you are current with messaging on how you are perceived and understood in the market place. It is a business planning tool that should be evaluated quarterly to make sure market opportunities are seized and threats are assessed and mitigated.
The next step is to audit your current marketing programs and communications to see how effective you are in defining your strengths. Are you placing all your strengths on the first page, first paragraph, above the fold and in your elevator pitch? Review your marketing tactics to see how well you represent your strengths. Start your assessment with:
1. Branding – Do you clearly communicate and represent your strengths in the essence of your brand and your identity?
2. Communications – Do you detail your strengths in all your marketing communications, including sales presentations, collateral and on your web site?
3. Sales – Can your sales representatives and customer-facing employees recite your top five strengths? Where are they detailed in your standard sales presentation?
4. Public and Analyst Relations – Does your boiler “About Us” include your marketing strengths? Are you able to weave your strengths into every new release?
5. Social Media – How often do you remind your fans and followers about your strengths? Are they listed in your social profiles? How many weekly posts include mention of your strengths?
In order to create demand and achieve anticipated growth, you need to market to your strengths. Make sure you are consistent, clear and current in your messaging and get the word out why you are better than all the rest.