Have you ever tried a strategy or tactic that someone suggested to you, maybe during a seminar or through a book or from a colleague, and it didn’t quite work out as promised? Chances are you have.
Maybe you were told that if you want to grow your business, you need to grow it through one or more of the following
- Building a referral-only business
- Driving growth through acquisitions
- Building a systematic marketing funnel
- Hiring superstars
- Optimizing the value of your current customers
- Advertising through Direct Mail (or PPC or Radio or …)
- Becoming an expert
- Mastering inbound marketing through creating valuable content
- Hiring a sales force
- Developing a large joint venture network or acquiring a key strategic partner
- Targeting a highly responsive niche, etc.
There are hundreds of strategies and tactics that can be used to grow any business ,,, but that doesn’t mean they work for everyone. Have you ever wondered why? Why does one strategy or tactic work for one person or one company and not another?
Well, one of the primary reasons is because there are four RIGHTS that must be in place, in alignment, at the same time or the effectiveness of that strategy or tactic will fall short of its promise.
So, what are those four rights? Well, here they are
I. Right Thinking
Almost every business leader wants to immediately jump to a tactic or strategy. Need more leads? Let’s do a PPC campaign. Want to close more sales? Let’s employ a question-based sales process. But that kind of thinking is short-sighted.
I don’t care what the field or activity is—business, football, archery, acting, lead gen, parenting, podcasting, stock picking, etc.—there are people who engage in that activity who succeed at a high level and people who engage in that same activity who succeed at a lower level or fail completely—even though they’re engaging in the same activity. So, what gives? What makes the difference?
The difference is the thinking that goes on behind the activity. For example, let’s take a common business activity, asking for referrals. There are business people who get tons of referrals when they ask and others who get none. What makes the difference? Let’s assume both business people are equally good at the work they do. Yet, Joe gets 10X the number of referrals that Sally gets. What gives?
The difference is the way Joe thinks about referrals vs. the way Sally thinks about referrals.
This past week I had a client send me a direct mail piece they recently sent out that didn’t get much of a response. They chose a strategy (direct mail), they created a tactic (creating a direct mail campaign for a big day sent to X number of people on Y date). However, when I saw the piece they sent out, I immediately knew why they didn’t get the response they want (Note: I did send them a list of nine things they should do differently next time to get a better response). Why? Because I’ve studied and sent a lot of direct mail over the years so the way I think about direct mail is different.
This is true about everything. If you or someone in your business isn’t thinking rightly about a strategy or tactic, you or they won’t execute it well (or won’t execute it optimally), which is why the first right in our four rights is right thinking. Since how we think influences how we behave, if we want a different or better response, we need to change our thinking first.
So, what activity are you engaging in right how where you’re not getting the kind of response you want? Once you identify that, start looking at your thought process and try to uncover where you might be thinking wrongly. Even better, talk with someone who’s getting a better response and ask them about how they think about that thing. You’ll be glad you did.
II. Right Strategy
Now, before we jump into tactics, you have to be clear on what you want to achieve. For example, if you want to build your brand recognition, referrals probably aren’t the best marketing strategy. PR, advertising, writing and speaking strategies are far more effective at that task. On the other hand, if you want to get more clients fast, PR is probably a bad choice. Why? When was the last time you saw someone on TV (let’s say an attorney being interviewed for a news story) and thought, “I better call them right now!” On the other hand, if you were to employ a referral strategy, you could probably pick up several clients reasonably fast.
Strategy is always dependent upon what you want to achieve. The strategies to drive growth for a solopreneur business are radically different than those for driving the growth of a business that wants to have 100 employees in the same city vs. one that wants to have 100 employees across the country.
There is no one right strategy for everyone for every situation.
Which means that the critical question for you first is, “What do you want to achieve (or what’s your objective or mission)?” Once you have clarity on that, you can then begin to ask the “What’s the best strategy for accomplishing that?” And the follow-up question, “Can we successfully accomplish this strategy?” Note: if you can’t, don’t select it. For example, writing can be an effective marketing strategy for brand building—but if you hate writing, don’t select it. It’s not a great strategy to use for your business.
Since we’ve been talking about marketing here, in case you’re unaware, there are ten major different marketing strategies (referrals, networking, online, writing, speaking, JVs, advertising, PR, keeping in touch and social media). Each of these is a good strategy … for certain businesses … for certain purposes. None of them is perfect for all-time for every business for every purpose.
In other words, it’s not enough to just think rightly about a strategy. You have to be clear on what you want to achieve and then select the right strategy for that purpose.
So, are you clear on what you want to achieve? And are you sure you’ve selected the best strategy to get you there?
III. Right Tactics
Okay, you’ve selected your strategy (you know where you want to go and the major way(s) you want to get there). Good. Now comes the execution part of the process, “How will you get there?”
Using our referral strategy from above, how are you going to execute it? Well, if you don’t how to think rightly about asking for referrals and about how to think like a marketer, chances are your tactical execution will fail or be far less effective than it could be.
For example, if you decide to ask ten people for referrals you might walk up to them and ask, “Do you know anyone whom you could refer to my business?” And chances are you’d end up with zero referrals. Asking ten people for referrals would be a tactic. However, the executing it this way would make it a poor tactical choice.
On the other hand, if you studied referrals and learned how to think about them, you might employ a different tactic. For example, you might go back to your last ten clients who had a very positive experience with you—and with whom you’ve stayed in touch. During one of those times together you might ask, “Frank, would you mind if we took a few minutes to brainstorm some names of people whom you know who might want to benefit from the same kind of result you achieved through using me?”
Chances are, if you asked ten past clients who all had positive experiences with you and with whom you’ve stayed in touch, they would all answer “Yes” to brainstorm ask. And once you started brainstorming, chances are several of them would come up with a couple of names for you.
Same strategy. Different tactics. Completely different results. The order matters. Right Thinking > Right Strategy > Right Tactics. But, before we can call it quits, there’s one more right we have to get right.
IV. Right Timing
You can get all of the above right, but if you don’t get this one right, your efforts will fail or return less than optimal results.
Timing matters. Uber wouldn’t have worked as well in 2005-2006 when “everything was working.” However, launching in 2009, after the market collapse of 2007-2008 with a lot of people out of work looking for a chance to make some extra money … Uber turned into gold. Growing through acquisition when the cost of capital is “near zero”(now) is infinitely easier than, let’s say, 1979 when the cost of capital was around 20%. Timing. It makes all the difference in the world.
Going back to our referral example. If you’re a parent and you’re out at your kid’s soccer game and you turn to the person next to you and ask, “Do you have any referrals for me?” that’s probably not an optimal time to ask.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re an accounting firm and you just filed your client’s tax return and were able to save them a big chunk of money and they’re thrilled with that number, that client is in a referral moment. If you were to ask the brainstorming question in that moment when they’re elated with the amount of money you just saved them, chances are the timing couldn’t be any better. Timing really does matter.
So if you want to create the conditions under which you and your business have the best chances to experience successful growth, make sure you always review the Four Rights of Growth.
- Right Thinking: Are we thinking rightly about this?
- Right Strategy: Did we select the right strategy to accomplish our objective?
- Right Tactics: Is this the best tactic (or the best way to employ this tactic) to achieve our strategy?
- Right Timing: Is this the best time to employ this tactic (or when would be the best time to employ this tactic)?
If you get learn to consistently get the Four Rights of Growth right, you’ll be giving you and your business the best chances of success.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you have any other ideas or thoughts about this rubric, make sure you add them to the comments section below (or click here >> if you’re reading this by email or RSS feed)
P.P.S. Here’s a simple graphic if you like image based reminders.