Stimulating Business Growth with a Three Legged Stool

by James on May 6, 2010

Business growth is hard at any time, it’s especially hard in a challenging economy. We’ve written about this before in Five Priorities in a Challenging Economy.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m getting calls from business leaders, the survivors and I’m hearing the same request consistently, “We’re doing fine but growth has stalled. What can we do to stimulate business growth?”

Well your best bet is to pull up a three legged stool. Simple, economical and stable. No need for four legs when three will do.

Let me ‘splain.

There are three key area you should focus on to find business growth: what you are saying, who you are saying it to and how you are saying it. Over to the next few days I will provide some thoughts and ideas on how you can improve business revenue by focusing on each area. Today we will look at what you are saying.

Your Message

To be effective, to drive business growth your message, what you say about your product, service, brand must be competitive, it must be ownable, and it must be motivating.

How to identify a competitive message

To be competitive your message should set your product apart from other offerings in the category you compete in.

Be specific. Don’t generalize. And don’t offer up more than one really good reason why what you are selling is better than what your competition is selling.

Don’t talk about category benefits. To be stable our three-legged stool needs, wait for it, three legs. Claiming your stool has three legs won’t help your marketing drive business growth. Without three legs you don’t have a three-legged stool. It’s a category requirement.

Finally, focus on benefits not features or attributes. The benefit can be practical, it can be emotional but it must be a benefit from your target customers point of view.

How to identify an ownable message

To be ownable what you say should be something your product can claim uniquely. If your competitor has been been saying it uses high density foam to make its three-legged stool more comfortable, and you are saying me too, then your marketing will be selling your competitors stool in addition to yours.

Look for benefits that you can claim, that your product can own that are important to heavy users of the category. These are the market makers and their needs are often different from the mainstream. Opportunity can be found, and business growth stimulated by claiming the benefit that’s most important to this group.

How to identify a motivating message

Finally, to drive business growth what you say must be motivating, your message must cause your customers to take action, to change their mind, to reconsider their choices. A simple definition of marketing is “activity designed to sell a product or service at a profit.” Be sure your marketing stays focused on this simple idea. If you want your customers to do something give them a good reason to. Or, said more bluntly, it’s the offer stupid.

There is a more detailed discussion of these ideas in Positioning.

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