Category Archives: Developing a Comprehensive Strategy for Your Business

October 2017 Newsletter – Do This One Thing and the Dreams for your Business Will Come True

Do This One Thing and the Dreams for your Business Will Come True

At a meeting last week, I was talking with a person who told me about some large challenges they were wrestling with in deciding where they wanted to take their company. As they shared the pros and cons of their various options, first from one angle, then from another perspective, I realized that this person really needed some uninterrupted time to thoroughly consider and work through all the matters they were facing.

In our hectic and fast paced world, sometimes it is difficult to set aside time to consider, contemplate and incubate various issues facing our companies. The word I like to use regarding this type of time is “pondering”. From my experience, there are three types of pondering time:

  • Quick thinking about your business time
  • Designated business pondering time
  • Individual business owner planning time

Quick Thinking About Your Business Time

This is the type of time where you are redeeming otherwise “wasted” time. For instance, taking time to listen to an educational Podcast or CD while driving and then considering your company in light of what is being presented. Or while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room reading some business-related reading material you have with you. Alternatively, using your commuting time and lunch hours for planning, thinking and dreaming about your business. Or you could make the choice to turn off your radio and listen to a recording that will expose you to new information, ideas, or concepts that can help you achieve the vision for your company.

This time could last 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe an hour – it just depends on how much time is available. There is no formal agenda for these times, and there may be no outcome, but you are just musing about some aspect of your business.

You can do this almost anywhere – in your car, in a waiting room, while exercising, during the time you are going on walk, etc. Therefore, I recommend always have some reading material or information regarding your business in your car or in your brief case so that you can take advantage of even small amounts of free time to plant seeds in your mind. The outcome from this time can enable you to make steady progress in laying a hold of the dreams for your business because of using these snippets of time to focus on your business.

Designated Business Pondering Time

These are longer periods of time where you have an issue or problem you are trying to solve with regards to your organization. To utilize this time effectively, you want to have some specific information with you that pertains to the matter you are thinking about. Generally, the outcome from this type of “stepping back” time is a decision or a course of action that you choose.

I suggest doing this any place you like to go to just think and be uninterrupted. I personally do this when I go for a walk on a dirt road close to my house where there is very little traffic to interrupt my contemplation. Recently I was visiting Dowdell’s Knob in F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia which was the place President Franklin D. Roosevelt liked to regularly visit when he wanted to have time to contemplate major decisions he was about to make.

This time involves taking an extended period to think about, ponder, “noodle,” or incubate an idea, issue, concept, situation, problem, or opportunity. “Incubate” is a key word. Sometimes you just need to mull something over, examine it from several directions, and consider as many options or ideas as possible regarding a certain issue or area of your business to have these “seeds” germinate in beneficial ways.

Individual Business Owner Planning Time

The third type of time is formal planning time for which you ideally have created some type of an agenda. Depending on how complex your operations are and the issues with which you are dealing, this designated planning time could be several hours to several days long.

A desirable setting for this activity is your favorite place to go to think and process without distractions or interruptions: the beach, the mountains, a state park, a resort, anywhere you feel relaxed and peaceful. These are excellent locations for this extended time of planning and evaluation.

By contemplating the problem, considering various solutions, and pondering on the efficacy of various alternative you will be able to choose the best option. In this process, it may be useful to ask questions like the following as it pertains to the problem and alternative solutions.Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia

What if…?

I wonder if…?

Would this work better if…?

I can solve this if…?

What would it look like if…?

How would this work if I…?

Individual business owner planning time includes setting aside time to just ponder and “possibility think” in a deeper way about the direction of your business and what it could look like in the future. It also can involve time spent considering items from your Quick thinking about your business time and Designated business pondering time that you want to explore further.

While more than just wishing, or hoping, pondering what your company could look like is letting your imagination create a clear image of what you want your business to be like in the future. The result should be so clear, so specific, that it becomes as real as your favorite memories of your childhood neighborhood!

If you need assistance with taking your business or organization from where it is to creating the business of your dreams, please contact us using the below information so we can show you how to ponder your way to a successful future.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

September 2017 Newsletter – Why So Many Companies’ Strategy Fail

Why So Many Companies’ Strategy Fail

I recently was reviewing two studies, one by McKinsey & Co. and the other by Harvard Business School that found 90% of organization’s strategies that fail do so because of lack of execution. What they discovered is that most of companies they examined had a practical and achievable strategy for their business, they just did not execute their game plan in a logical, systematic way.

The “Busyness” Method of Execution

From one standpoint, execution is easy; you just do it (whatever “it” is). However, there are two different types or methods of “execution.” The first is to just get busy doing various activities. I call this the “busyness” method. The activities engaged in the busyness method may or may not be productive activities. The thought pattern in this approach is that – activity equals progress. The underlying problem with the busyness method is most of its activities are tactical actions, that are not necessarily tied to the Strategic plan.

Just like the statement in Alice in Wonderland, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” the busyness method can lead to activity for the sake of activity. Its mantra is “just get busy doing something.”

In the absolute, the busyness execution approach can lead to operating in the envelope of the ill-fated “tyranny of the urgent”, where an organization spends so much of its time in crisis management that it loses sight of the big picture of what it should be trying to accomplish and thereby sees little or no progress toward its long-term goals. The business then starts to operate primarily in a reactive mode with the concept of planning being nothing more than the solution to today’s “crisis du jour.”

The bottom line of the busyness approach to execution is that it is an un-structured method that does not fully utilize systems intentionally tied to the company’ overall Strategic plan.

Structured Execution

The second approach to execution, is what I call “Structured Execution”. The key to Structured Execution is that it is an intentional method of executing systems in a disciplined manner. There are three key factors to Structured Execution:

  1. Intentionality – The execution does not take place haphazardly but there is a definite train of thought behind each action. The visible execution is a result of an overall game plan that has been laid out clearly behind the scenes.
  2. Systems –Structured Systems have been developed, implemented, and monitored so that correct actions take place on a consistent basis. Actions are not left up to the individual Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiato do as they see fit, but the steps that a person or team will take to accomplish a given task have been identified beforehand and optimized to get the desired outcome on a predictable basis.
  3. Discipline – A disciplined atmosphere exists throughout the company to ensure optimized systems are in place that are followed explicitly and adherence to the systems is rewarded, and deviation from the systems is penalized. The discipline to adhere to the systems in place is not mindless, but is an acknowledgment that the best systems are being used to produce the desired results. However, it is understood these systems are reviewed regularly with an eye to whether the systems can be improved.

The Five Steps of Structured Execution

There are 5 sequential steps to having a Structured Execution Plan that is intentional, systematic, and disciplined:

  1. Systems – Development of Systems that encompass both your overall plans and detailed processes which are blueprints for how you want to operate your business. No two Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiacompanies would have the exact same Systems because they are unique to each organization.
  2. Personnel – Determination of the people you will require to execute your Systems. This involves ensuring you have the correct personnel in place and they are properly trained.
  3. Metrics – These are measurements to determine whether your processes are working correctly or not. This step is necessary because if you do not measure something, there is no way to determine how well you are executing or managing it, nor what you can do to improve your systems.
  4. Quality Loops – These are mechanisms that ensure that if a system or process stops functioning properly the individual or team that is executing the process can self-correct without management needing to get involved. Quality Loops also involve process redefinition that can be used if something has changed in your business’ overall environment which necessitates a redesign of the entire process.
  5. Incentives – These are financial and non-financial rewards to the business owner, leader, employee, or supplier for adhering to the process and executing it correctly. Incentives are necessary to reinforce the performance that in the end leads to your company achieving its strategy.

Why is proper execution an absolute must in any organization? The same McKinsey & Co. and Harvard Business School studies showed on average 55% to 70% of a business’ success is tied directly to proper Execution.

If you would like assistance with executing your organization’s strategy in a structured, systematic way so that you achieve the goals for your company, please contact us using the below information.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

August 2017 Newsletter – How to Properly Retreat in Your Business

How to Properly Retreat in Your Business

Recently I was watching a TV Documentary on the United States Revolutionary War, and it discussed the fact that in a key battle the Colonists retreated from the initial fight, which in turn allowed them to re-group, attack again and win a key victory. Retreats can be part of an overall strategy that can lead to triumph. Just as great military leaders know how to properly use retreats, so can business and organization leaders.

I feel very strongly business owners and leaders need periodic planning retreat times for three reasons.

First, you need time to evaluate what is happening in your business, both at the macro and micro levels. This includes taking time to gauge how you are doing in achieving your goals and objectives, including evaluating how you are doing financially.

Second, you need these “tree” type evaluations to open your mind to big picture and “forest” type questions like “What is the Vision for my business?”, “Is my current Strategy appropriate?” and “What is the direction for my business?”

Third, these questions lead to global questions like, “What is the dream for my business?” “Where do I want to take my business?” “How can I improve my customer’s experience?” Clearly, these questions and many other questions like them should be considered. To reflect on these topics requires specific time spent away from your work location in contemplation of these issues and topics.

Planning Retreats

Leaders of larger companies realize that they need formal time for them and their “management team” to specifically work on planning for their business. However, if you have a Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAsmaller business you may be wondering if you really need this type of time for evaluating, assessing, and planning.

I have found that periodic planning retreat away from your business location is extremely important for both smaller and larger companies. The two things you want to accomplish in these retreats are:

  • Contemplate specifics related to your business. For instance, consider market factors, customer status, and your employee situation. Evaluate how your business is doing now and what should be done in the future in these areas.
  • Consider issues driven by what you want to do with your life–personal goals, what is important to you, what brings you pleasure and enjoyment, succession planning, your financial situation, etc. This requires the consideration of what you want to do with your life and how your business fits into your overall desires and plan for your life.

Group Business Management Team Retreats

Businesses are a team effort and if your business is of any size, you are going to require a team of people to achieve the Vision for your business – therefore getting your entire team on the same page and working together is paramount. This requires your management team to meet periodically for group retreats. Areas of focus during the retreats should include:

  • Consideration of market factors
  • The conditions of your customer universe
  • Marketing and sales results
  • Operations
  • Financial results
  • Issues involving your employee situation

The principal things that take place during these meetings are

  • An assessment of the current state of your business
  • Evaluation of various possible courses of action
  • Deciding on a go-forward game plan

Two additional things should take place during group business management retreats that do not necessarily take place during your individual planning retreats, which are:

  1. A celebration of the successes of your business since the previous group business management retreat. This is a key activity since one of your chief responsibilities as the leader is to rally and encourage your employees, and that starts with your management team!
  2. Plan some fun and relaxation time into each retreat. This may be a game of golf, a trip to an amusement park, a massage therapist coming in, or an upscale, relaxed dinner. Keep in mind that you should do things to make the event something that everyone looks forward to as compared to dreading the next grueling, 10-hour-days, stressful planning “retreat.”

Retreat Location

Small Business PlanningHaving had the benefit of peering inside many companies I feel a main ingredient of having a successful and rewarding group planning retreat is the meeting should take place away from your work location.

Whenever comprehensive planning sessions take place at your regular work location three problems occur:

  • The participants have a difficult time disconnecting from the urgent work that is just waiting for them on the other side of the wall
  • Interruptions occur because employees break into the meeting with “things that just could not wait”, which in turn causes the entire planning process to be less than optimal
  • The participants, for some mysterious reason, end up being limited in their thinking and they wind up not thinking “outside of the box”

Meeting Frequency

I recommend that twice a year, generally for two or three days, you as an owner and other key persons who are ultimately going to determine the destiny of your business go away for a group planning retreat. If you have a larger business it may take longer than two or three days and while having your individual planning retreat over a weekend may personally work well for you, your management team may consider it an incursion into their personal time so these planning events should take place during the normal work week.

Retreat Agenda

I recommend about a month before the planning retreat, the preparation of a detailed agenda. You want to do this beforehand to make sure you have not missed any items on the agenda and to mentally plan for issues and discussions that most likely will occur. When all the above ingredients are combined, you will obtain a refreshed, re-focused and re-energized management team that will in turn achieve the goals for your organization.

If you need assistance with properly using planning retreats to recharge you and your management team for realizing greater revenue and profits, please contact us using the below information so we can show you to “retreat” to move forward.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

July 2017 Newsletter – How to Multiply Your Profits

How to Multiply Your Profits

You may have seen the announcement last week that Amazon will start selling Sears Kenmore appliances. Not only that, they revealed Sears and Amazon will start working on fully integrating Amazon’s voice assistance, Alexa with Sear’s smart appliances.

This will allow people to control things like air conditioners with voice commands that will be synched with Alexa.

Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail said it’s a win for Sears, putting its products where customers are shopping. He went on to say because of Sears falling sales this is good step in finding “Other channels and routes to markets”.

This new relationship will provide Sears additional revenue because the service work and product warrantee services will be provided by Sears Home Services.

What is a Delivery Channel?Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GA

Sears and Amazon’s new venture is an example of a company developing additional Delivery Channels for its products/services. What is a Delivery Channel?

Delivery channels are the methods by which you deliver or distribute your product or service to your Customer. It is important to note there are several terms used for delivery channels. Sometimes these are called “sales channels,” “marketing channels”, or “distribution channels”. All these terms refer to how your product will be provided to your Customer; I will use the term “delivery channel.”

For instance, you could ship your product directly to a Customer, they could pick it up at your location, buy it from a retail store to whom you initially sold your product at wholesale prices, or, if applicable, they could download your product from your web site. Marketing-type delivery channels might involve doing direct sales to your Customer or developing, working with, and supporting a network of distributors.

Developing Multiple Delivery Channels

The more delivery channels you have, the more sales you can have by providing the same product to your Customers via multiple and alternative means.

For instance, the soft drink Coca-Cola® is delivered (sold) to their Customers in three basic ways:

  • Bottles, cans, or other containers purchased at stores
  • Fountain drinks purchased at restaurants, sporting events, or similar places
  • Bottles, cans, or other containers purchased via vending machines

Consequently, the Coca-Cola® bottling company can easily obtain additional revenue from the sale of one product, the Coca-Cola® soft drink, because it has multiple delivery channels. We have all seen this when a physical retail store chain establishes an online retail presence; it is just being delivered via a different channel.

Two Delivery Channel Decisions

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAThere are two decisions that involve this delivery channel area. First, which is the best and most appropriate delivery channel for your product? Second, which additional delivery channels justify their cost? Because there are additional costs to develop and maintain each delivery channel, you must compare your incremental revenue to your incremental costs to verify that the effort of creating additional delivery channels makes sense.

There is an added factor that must be considered when you explore additional delivery channels—will the marketplace be confused using the additional delivery channel so the overall message of your solution becomes distorted?

This issue of confusion is what Starbucks Coffee® faced when it introduced its VIA® product for making coffee at home compared to the product that was being delivered through its retail coffee establishments. That is, would VIA® be viewed as an alternative to going to a Starbucks Coffee® location and therefore cannibalize its sales, or be viewed as another delivery channel of the Starbucks Coffee® product and thereby grow overall sales?

Secondary Delivery Channels Benefits

Besides the additional revenue, there are two related secondary benefits that using multiple delivery channels can bring to your business. First, the same marketing efforts can be used to promote and drive multiple delivery channels. For instance, a television advertisement for a physical store can have a web site listed at the bottom and the words “shop online at” added at the end of the commercial.

Second, there is potential for a spillover effect when promoting one delivery channel when the same product can be purchased from a different delivery channel than the one being promoted in the advertising.

For instance, a soft drink advertisement shows the soft drink being served at a cool, relaxing, and pleasant pool party, which would encourage sales from a physical store delivery channel for take-home consumption. On a different occasion, the consumer passes a vending machine in the middle of a hot city, they remember the advertisement showing the pleasant pool party, and they purchase the same soft drink via a different delivery channel (the vending machine) because of the image that has been set in their mind.

Delivery Channel Assessment

To take advantage of new Delivery Channels an assessment is required of how you are providing your product to your Customer and whether you should expand your Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAdelivery channels.

The determination of the delivery channel(s) for your product and the possible use of multiple delivery channels are influenced by the following factors:

  • How your Customer has traditionally purchased your product
  • The physical attributes of your product
  • Technology involving the delivery of your product
  • The amount of risk involved in the purchase (e.g., buying potato chips, which could easily be sold via a vending machine, compared to an automobile purchase)
  • The demographics/culture/religion of the purchaser
  • How you are able to reach the decision maker
  • The motives of the purchaser
  • The purchaser’s perceptions about your product
  • The ability of and knowledge of the purchaser
  • The attitudes toward your product
  • The lifestyle of the purchaser
  • How opinion leaders shape your market
  • How people’s roles and family influences affect various delivery channels
  • The social class of the purchaser
  • The culture and subculture of the purchaser

The bottom line of completing the above analysis is to maximize your revenue. So, you want to consider and possibly choose all the delivery channels you have available to generate the largest sales volume.

If you need assistance in fully developing your Delivery Channels, please contact us using the below information so we can show you to multiply your revenue and profits.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

April 2017 Newsletter – The 5 Tools for Taking Your Company to the Next Level

The 5 Tools for Taking Your Company to the Next Level

Recently I met with a client who has a multi-million-dollar company, regarding the future of their business. Over the past few years they have tripled their revenue and they have big plans to take their organization to the next level.

As we discussed their plans, the close interrelationship between a company’s Marketing and Sales area and its Production area became very clear. In our Business and Innovation consulting firm, Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. we refer to this relationship as “talking a good game, versus playing a good game”. Furthermore, it must be recognized and understood is that there is a chicken-and-egg syndrome between your Marketing and Sales area and your Production area.

Seizing Economic Opportunities

Currently there is a lot economic opportunity in the world and this is reflected in a high degree of optimism for growth in the minds of many business owners. To avail Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaoneself of these potential rewards, it is wise to consider whether a company is ready go to the next level.

The Structure of Success™ methodology and diagram that we use in working with organizations shows that the Vision and Leadership area of your organization leads to your Marketing and Sales area, and that in turn leads to your Production area – how you produce your product or service. A foundational component of both your Marketing and Sales and Production areas is determining and fully developing the attractiveness of your product or service in light of the opportunity that is presented to you via your target Marketing and Sales market.

Marketing and Sales/Production Chicken-and-Egg Syndrome

The above chicken-and-egg syndrome comes into play because – how do you know what you can bring to the marketplace with regards to the attractiveness of your product or service, (talking a good game) without first working on your Production area to determine how you plan to follow through and actually play a good game?

In reality, it is your expertise in delivering your product or service that should drive your Marketing and Sales area. This requires an organization to figure out how it will meet its greater customer’s expectations before it engages in the effort to create these increased demands via its expanded Marketing and Sales efforts.

Taking Your Company to the Next Level

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaWhile it is easy to say “oh yeah, we can take our company to the next level”, a prudent business owner and their management team should do a thorough assessment as to whether they have the systems in place to handle the anticipated growth. Using a baseball metaphor, does the company have the systems and personnel in place to move from “A” ball, to “AA”, to “AAA” and maybe on to the Major League? Can you realistically compete with the other teams (your competition) in the new league in which you want to play?

An evaluation of your Production area involves reviewing your capabilities so you can figure out a go-forward game plan. There are five areas that should be evaluated, namely:

  1. Your Product Cost/Price

Will scaling your business develop a production cost advantage that will enable you to sell your product or service at a lower price than your competition? If this part of your growth strategy, have you done customer surveys regarding pricing to determine whether it is a significant buying criteria?

 2. Your Product Quality

In taking your company to the next level, can you maintain or develop a superior quality product? Or is there a risk that the quality of your product or service may degrade as a result of growing your company?

3. Your Delivery Time or Convenience

The third factor to consider is whether your growth plans will improve your delivery time (via a faster production cycle) or make you more convenient than your Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiacompetition (more locations or closer to your customer)? Before embarking on a strategy to improve one or both of these areas, it is critical to have done customer surveys to determine whether getting your product or service more quickly or more conveniently is a significant buying criterion?

4. Your Customer Service

You need to assess how your customer service will be impacted by your growth plans. Do you have the systems in place to maintain your current level of customer service or could you provide even a higher level of customer service by improving your systems and personnel?

 5. Your Product/Service Uniqueness

The final question to ask is whether your plans to scale you company can produce some unique feature of your product or service? This uniqueness could manifest itself in several ways. Through increased R & D, could you develop products that have patent or copyright protection? Or, could you develop a design feature that makes your product or service different from your competition?

To assure yourself that your organization is ready for and capable of your desired growth, Production systems must be put in place that will either maintain or improve the above five areas. Otherwise, the organization’s reputation will be undermined as a result of expanding its marketing and sales efforts (“talking a good game) without first putting the necessary ingredients in place to “play a good game”.

If you need assistance with getting your company ready to go to the next level, please contact us using the below information so we can show you how to create a strategic competitive advantage for your company as a result of properly evaluating the above five areas and then translating them to your Marketing and Sales efforts.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

March 2017 Newsletter – 5 Steps to Beating Your Competition Through Branding

5 Steps to Beating Your Competition Through Branding

Do you want to generate ever increasing profits in your business? Would you like to separate your business from its competition and eliminate comparison shopping? Wouldn’t it be great to have instant name recognition for your business?

You can obtain all of the above and more by developing a powerful and attractive brand for your business!

The Importance of Branding

The textbook definition of a brand is the name or symbol used to identify and distinguish a specific product or business. A brand is the overall image or Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiavalue statement you are trying to create in the market for your product or business.

But, why is having a brand image important?

Developing and communicating a brand reduces the perceived risk to your customer of making a purchase decision. With a strong brand identity, your customer feels that your product or business has a known identity, thereby reducing the uncertainty and risk they face compared to purchasing another product.

We see the substantiation of strong brands in the 2016 study by Brandz of the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands. Some of the top brands were Google, Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Facebook and VISA and as a result they are able to dominate their respective marketplaces and achieve the aforementioned results.

The Results of Branding

As companies focus on developing their brand identities one can see the results right in front of them, particularly when they incorporate an impactful and memorable tagline into their brand.

For instance, Arby’s restaurants has developed “We have the meats” into great name recognition. The Sandals Resorts brand of “luxury included” communicates that it provides serene blue water, white sand and casual fun in the sun. Lastly, regional fast-food chain Zaxby’s has developed the brand of a having fast-food experience that is cut above other fast-food chains with great food images in their commercials and the tagline that their food is “indescribably good”.

How would your life be different if you could charge a premium for your product (I will use the term “product” to include services in this article)? Additionally, people want to work for an organization that is going places so what would it be like to have employees jump at the opportunity to work for your business?

The Benefit of Successful Branding

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaYour brand (defined as “the name used to identify and distinguish a specific product or business”) starts with psychological connection to your market and continues on to the actual experience that a customer has with your product or business.

The psychological brand identification is created in the mind of your target audience by your marketing program; its intention is to create the expectations in your customer’s mind that your product’s quality surpasses or is better suited for their needs than that of your competitors’. The experiential aspect includes the combination of all interactions with your business or its product. This is what is known as their “brand experience.”

The Power of Branding

Having a recognized brand is one of the most beneficial and powerful elements in your marketing plan providing unique marketing opportunities to your business and your product.

The power of branding is that it sets an expectation in the mind of your customer of what they will experience with your product or business.

A brand is the overall image or value statement you are trying to create in the marketplace for your product or business. It is what you want to be known for. Your brand should be what you are famous for; such as having the best hamburger in town or phenomenal customer service.

If this expected experience becomes a known commodity in the marketplace you will be able to catapult your product or company ahead of your competition. The ultimate level in branding is that you are perceived as the only one that does what you do, thus eliminating all of your competition.

Branding is for Organizations of All Sizes

Bear in mind that you don’t have to be a big business to develop a brand. Branding is available to any business – it is just the size of brand area that Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiachanges. The scope of your brand could be your city, county, region, state, section of a country, the entire country, or worldwide.

Let me share three local brand success stories in the North Atlanta area where I live.

  • Alpine Bakery developed a reputation for exquisite desserts, expanded to a much larger location, and started a companion, co-located restaurant, while still supplying desserts to various other restaurants.
  • A local restaurant developed the image of an upscale diner with a very impressive menu, desserts to “die for,” and a unique logo to establish a string of diners – Diner at North Point, the Diner at Sugar Hill, etc.
  • Reliable Heating & Air used its great reputation, marketing savvy, and brand message to expand into plumbing, electrical and home performance, all branded with the “Reliable” name.

Five Steps to Developing Your Brand

There are five steps to fully developing a brand:

  1. Determine your intended brand identity
  2. Validate your brand identity by asking questions of your prospects and customers such as:
    1. What do they think when they hear about or see your business or product brand?
    2. How do they describe your business or product brand to others?
  3. Fully develop your branding by making changes to your brand based upon step 2.
  4. Determine how you want to communicate your brand to your target audience.
  5. Implement the marketing and promotion of your brand throughout all of your marketing materials and efforts.

Begin today to build your brand recognition by analyzing your business’ strengths and weaknesses and the message you are currently communicating to your market. Then make the necessary changes so that your target audience has a positive brand image of your business firmly etched in their mind.

In this way, you will create a business that can charge a premium for its products, grow its profits, differentiate itself from its competition, gain instant name recognition, and attract good employees. Who knows? You may grow your brand reach to your county, state, country or the world in a few short years.

If you need assistance with fully developing your Brand Image, please contact us using the below information so we can show you how beat your competition and separate your business from the rest of the pact via your Brand Strategy.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

February 2017 Newsletter – Creating Experiences Worth Repeating for Your Customer

Creating Experiences Worth Repeating for Your Customer

While at an event recently, I was talking with a Senior VP of Marketing of a Fortune 1000 company and the topic of keeping customers satisfied and happy came up. They went on to share their company was so committed to building long-lasting customer relationships that several years ago they hired a VP of Customer Relations to be the “voice of the customer” within their company.

Shortly thereafter, the actual VP of Customer Relations joined our conversation. As we chatted I shared that our firm has done a lot of work in the area of Customer Experience Improvement and that we described the objective that organizations should shoot for as – Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™. That is, you want to create experiences for your customer that are so good, they can’t wait to do them again. That is how repeat sales and customer referrals are generated.

In working with customers, the most important action is to meet or fulfill their perceived need. However, almost as crucial is the overall experience they have in interacting with your organization.

Satisfying Versus Unsatisfying Experiences

We have all had many experiences where our wants or needs were met, but the overall experience ranged from less than desirable to awful.

The fast food restaurant that was anything but fast, although we did eat. The car repair that cost us more than the car was worth, though the car now runs again. The home repair job that had to be repaired another time. The vacation experience that was anything but relaxing. The tool or appliance purchase that was a trying experience. The meal at a fine dining restaurant that was not a great experience – food but not much else.

Think back to the last time that on a 1 to 10 scale, you personally as a customer had a 10 or even an 11 experience. How did you feel? Did you tell others about the company? Did you become their advocate, not just their satisfied customer?

An Incredible Customer Experience

In working with one of our clients several years ago they shared an incredible example of Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™.

I live in Atlanta, Georgia and a couple of years ago we had a summer with a number of days over 100 degrees (which is very, very unusual for us). So people’s air conditioning was regularly breaking down.

One of our clients is a very large HVAC company and one of their sales people was out completing an order for a man in the hot sun one afternoon. As the sales person was finishing up the order, an elderly neighbor came running across the street saying something empathically – so the sales person thought “this is just what I don’t need.

As the neighbor approached them he said “you have to buy from who I got mine from”. As it turned out, the neighbor had bought their air conditioner from the same company – our client’s company. The sales person was greatly heartened.

Our client had created an Experience Worth Repeating for the elderly neighbor that was so good, that on a blazingly hot day he would run across the street to say – you have to buy from the company where I got mine from!

Five Ways to Improve your Customer’s Experience

Small Business Planning in AtlantaHow do you go about Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer?

Your organization must build this in from the core of your offering. It must be engineered in. It cannot just be something that you add as a veneer or is an after-the-fact add in – to try to create a nicer customer experience.

Listed below are paths you can use to move your company towards Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer:

  1. Ask your customers and then actively listen to what they say they want and how they want to receive it. Many times companies just don’t want to hear the reality of how they are doing.
  2. Be your own customer. Call into your company and pretend to be a prospect. What is your experience like? Purchase your own product and see what your overall experience is like. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
  3. Use focus groups, customer panels and research tools to try to get inside your customer’s mind as to what they want their overall experience to be.
  4. Ask your employees who directly interact with your customers what they think can be done to improve your customer’s experience. If you do this in a sincere and open way they will give you tons of ideas because they see what your customers want on a daily basis.
  5. Take a step back and ask yourself “how ought the world work with regard to my customer getting their need met?” That is, from their point of view, what would an ideal customer experience look like?

If you need assistance with Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer please contact us using the below information so we can show you how create experiences for your customer that are so good, they can’t wait to do them again – resulting in repeat sales and customer referrals.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

November 2016 Newsletter – “Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond – Part II

“Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond – Part II

We have all been there – you are out of the office using your Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop and you want to print something. But lugging a bulky printer with you is not feasible.

Enter a company named Zuta Labs, which recently introduced new mobile, robotic printer (that ships in early 2017) the size of a baseball which enables people to print anywhere and on any size paper!

They used the concept we introduced in the October Newsletter of “How Ought the World to Work” to develop an ideal solution to printing something when you are out of the office.

They reasoned that printers are essentially a print head running back and forth on a moving piece of paper, so let’s reverse the process. Let’s place a print head on a set of small wheels and let it move across a sheet of paper, thereby allowing a printer to become tiny.

The Initial Four Steps in “Future Proofing” Your Company

Last month we looked at how to “Future Proof” your company for 2017 and beyond by fostering visionary thinking. This involves moving past theSmall Business Planning

constraints of your current operations to embrace a future that is very different from today. We examined four components of this open-ended, re-conceptualizing process:

  1. To start to develop “ideal solutions” you must get inside your customer’s heart and mind to fully understand what your Customer’s needs are and how they sense these needs
  2. Then utilize the concept of “how ought the world to work” for your customer to create ideal solutions for your customer’s need
  3. During this process do not limit your possibility thinking, but start from a totally unconstrained point of view so that you think outside the box
  4. The goal of this process is to generate multiple “ideal solutions” that provide you with an array of options, which may include variants of some ideal solutions

Let us now examine the remaining four steps of “future proofing” your company.

Narrow your ideal solutions to a certain price level or target market

The fifth step is to narrow your ideal solution down to the best solution that can be provided at a certain price level or to a particular market that has pricing constraints. Keep in mind that you are still ignoring your current business in this process and are not taking into account how you currently operate.

Let us look at an example of this narrowing process. Say that you are a mid-priced cruise ship line, and you are completing this re-conceptualizing process. In this step you will evaluate various ideal solutions at a mid-market price level, not a luxury cruise line price level. During the previous steps, you should consider all the ways you could better serve your customer, no matter what the cost, even if a certain idea or option does not fit in your pricing range as a mid-price cruise line. This is because during this step you may be able to modify an idea that is too expensive to provide an improved solution to your current customer within various pricing constraints.

Bear in mind as you are completing this exercise, the absolute best solution you can provide to your customer at a certain price level may change over time with advances in technology or changes in the environment, energy, social, or political arenas affecting your market.

Decide what you are willing to change in your business to provide an improved solution to your customer

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaThe next step involves coming back to the real world and considering where your organization is currently at, and starting to visualize how your business could provide this ideal solution. This stage requires you to look at the personality of your company and its available resources in the context of being able to produce and deliver this ideal or perfect solution. This step also requires you to assess how willing you are to possibly change your entire company philosophy, business model, and operations to be the source of an ideal solution to your customer’s need.

The above process of envisioning, consideration, analysis, and deliberation should lead you to make decisions about how far you are willing to go in the process of creating an ideal solution to your customers’ needs. This phase automatically yields a continuum of options that are available to you as a business owner. You could choose to make the commitment to totally transform your business to be the provider of the ideal solution for your customer (which may also require you to transform your Delivery Channel). Alternatively, you could choose to do nothing at all. Or you could choose to do something in between. Included in this continuum of options are various incremental approaches to moving your current solution toward the ideal solution.

Develop the systems to deliver the improved solution

The seventh step involves determining what systems would need to be changed within your company to deliver the improved solution to your customer. This analysis requires you to consider, design, implement, and perfect the methodologies that will be necessary for delivering this new solution to your customer.

To supply this more desirable solution to your customer, you must engineer into your systems the quality and other attributes that your improved product must contain so that your business can produce the product. By concentrating on the optimization of the system that will be used to provide the new ideal product, you will as a consequence perfect both the product and the system that provides it.

Identify other changes you need to make in your business to provide the solution upon which you have decided

The last step in the re-conceptualizing process is to take a step back and consider what other things in your organization you may wish to change in Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaconjunction with providing an improved solution to your customer. To do this, once you have decided on what improved or ideal solution you will be providing, then re-examine your company’s Critical Success Factors to determine if any of them require updating.

If your re-conceptualizing process results in your entity basically continuing in the same direction as it has been going, then most likely you will not have to revise your Critical Success Factors. However, if you are making any substantial change to the direction of your business as reflected in its Vision, then most likely you will need to evaluate and possibly modify your Critical Success Factors and Strategy components.

Just like Zuta Labs did by developing a mobile, robotic printer which enables people to print anywhere and on any size paper, by using the concept and process of “how ought the world to work” to create ideal solutions for your customer’s need, you will be able to “Future Proof” your company.

If you need assistance with how to use this concept of “how ought the world to work” to transform your organization, please contact us using the below information.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

October 2016 Newsletter – “Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond – Part I

“Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond

Recently, industrial heavyweight companies Fujifilm and Hitachi announced plans to incredibly change the future of their respective companies by significantly investing in the area of Stem Cell research and development. These are marked departures from their traditional areas of focus.

In their announcement they said while Stem Cell research and development is a small sector now, it is expected to grow in Japan to $950M by 2020 and to $120B worldwide by 2030. This is a bold move based upon their view of where the world is going and their Vision for how they want their companies to look like in the future.

How does an organization foster such visionary thinking? How can a leader move past the constraints of their current operations to embrace a future that is very different from today? I call this open-ended process, re-conceptualizing a business.

“How Ought the World to Work”

I have found that a great way to jumpstart the re-conceptualizing process is to reflect on or ponder about “how ought the world to work” in the context of Small Business Planning in Atlantathe environment in which your business operates. This involves focusing on your Customer and envisioning the best way they could have their need met (i.e. how ought the world to work from the standpoint of their need?)

At the beginning of your re-conceptualizing process, absolutely do not limit or consider the meeting of your Customer’s needs in the context of how your existing business operates. In fact, it may be helpful to pretend that your business does not even exist! In essence, imagine in a perfect world the best possible way that your Customer’s goals could be met.

One of our clients, a Physician recruitment and Physician office training company, used this unconstrained view of their company to begin the process of re-shaping their organization into an online Portal for all things related to operating a Physician Office practice.

How Would an Ideal World Operate?

This step will require you to expand your thinking and develop your thoughts regarding how an ideal world would operate pertaining to your market and your Customer’s needs being fulfilled. In imagining how ought the world to work or operate, it may be useful to reflect on the “true values” of life, the “truths of life,” the entire concept of excellence, and how excellence would be manifested in your market.

Here are ten innovations from 1995 to 2010 where someone asked – What is the best way that our customers’ needs can be met?

  1. iPod
  2. YouTube
  3. Smart phones
  4. Groupon
  5. Facebook
  6. All-electric cars
  7. Civilian hypersonic aircraft for space tourism
  8. Apps for smart phones
  9. Civilian use of GPS

An Unconstrained Point of View

Small Business Planning in AtlantaTo properly complete the re-conceptualizing process, you must first examine and determine the ideal solution from an unconstrained point of view – you want to think outside the box and not limit your possibility thinking. By thinking about all the various options that could meet your Customer’s needs, you will be able to generate the greatest number of options, possibilities, and alternatives for enabling your Customers to achieve their goals.

While some of these ideas may be unrealistic from a technical standpoint or pricing perspective, the ideas will spawn other ideas, thoughts, and concepts that may be more practical. One way of looking at this step is that it is a uniquely targeted method of brainstorming related to what you can do with your business. The outcome from this uniquely constructed method of brainstorming is then eligible to become your renewed Vision for your business.

Generate Multiple “Ideal Solutions”

Please remember that the above process may not yield just one ideal solution; it may present multiple ideal solutions. In fact, this exercise of looking at how ought the world to work may provide you with an array of options, which may include variants of ideal solutions. At this point in the exercise, do not let your possibility thinking be constrained by costs to deliver or price points in your market; the goal is to develop as many excellent ideal solutions as possible.

An example of this is when one of our clients, a large HVAC company, went through this process they ended up with several very different options for moving forward. They allowed themselves to fully flesh out each one independently and once they had considered the advantages and disadvantages of each one, they choose one that over the past 8 years has generated a 10-fold increase in revenue.

Get Inside Your Customer’s Heart and Mind

Keep in mind that to fully understand what your Customer’s needs are and how they sense their needs, you must get inside their hearts and minds. To Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiafully comprehend your Customer’s needs, you must understand and address their perceived short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals, and the related emotional state that they perceive they want to be in as a result of achieving their goals.

This entire concept of getting inside your Customer’s heart and mind is the foundation of preparing for 2017 and beyond because the world is changing and changing fast and your organization must be ready for these changes.

In next month’s Newsletter, I will cover the remaining four steps of “future proofing” your company by looking at how ought the world to work.

If you need assistance with how to use this concept of “How ought the world to work” to transform your organization, please contact us using the below information.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

September 2016 Newsletter – Seizing the Opportunity to Triple Your Revenue

Seizing the Opportunity to Triple Your Revenue

Last month we examined a major force in the business marketplace – the threat of “disruption” and how to overcome it by creating game changing innovations within your company.

This month I would like to look at the flip side, the incredible opportunity being presented to virtually every company or organization in the world.

Unprecedented Middle-Class Growth

According to a number of experts, including Brookings Institution scholar Homi Kharas, the worldwide middle class will increase from 1.8 billion to 4.9 billion people by the year 2030. This increase will mainly occur in Asia and India, however significant middle-class growth will also take place in Central and South America, the southern fringes of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

According to organizations like the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), currently middle class is defined as someone who earns or spends $10 to $100 per day – depending on the local cost of living.

At that point a person has enough disposable income to purchase consumer items like smart cell phones, microwaves, upscale clothing or consider buying a car.

As the UN suggests, the growth is being driven by industrialization and the globalization of the economy. The industrial revolution of the 19th Century and globalization of the economy in the second half of the 20th Century transformed the economies of much of the world. As this continues, the move from agrarian to industrial societies in other countries will generate income increases that will create enormous groups of middle class consumers.

Why This Matters to You

But what does this mean to you?

It means that there will be consumers everywhere in the world, not just in your current country. Business Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaopportunities will explode. This explosion in the middle class and development of the transportation and related systems necessary to get goods to them will enable you to sell products worldwide.

For service companies the demand for and infrastructure (i.e. the Internet) required to deliver them will allow you to provide services anywhere on the Earth. The unprecedented opportunity to deliver medical services globally will raise the standard of living and improve the health of much of the world.

Tourism will explode because many more people will have the time and money to see areas outside their local geographies. That is why there has been a recent binge in airlines buying planes – they know this travel explosion is coming.

The bottom line is that the Internet and globalization are changing everything!

As long as trade wars and major disruptions from terrorist attacks can be avoided, the future of the world and growth opportunities this presents for businesses looks very inviting.

Innovation is the Key to World-Wide Growth

So how does a company get across the chasm of threats from disruption to the land of 21st century opportunity? By applying innovation to itself to develop a much larger, even a global footprint.

To do this, closely consider what your organization currently does and then examine how to take advantage of this nearly tripling of the world-wide middle class? That is, how can you tap into consumers across the world? What actions can you take to start selling your products in other countries? Where do you need to begin to become a global services company?

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaAdditionally, how could you go about delivering medical products and services across borders? What steps could you take to avail yourself of the explosion in world-wide tourism and related services occurring? Where could you begin to use the Internet more fully to reach this global market?

At the core of all these opportunities is the need for and call for innovation. Once the above opportunities have been deeply considered, then closely examine your company to determine how you can apply innovation to it to take it to the next level.

Ways to Go Global

Increasingly, there are more and more Federal, State and Regional organizations that can help you expand internationally. Also, many Industry Organizations offer assistance with taking these steps.

Alternatively, instead of taking the actions by yourself, you could partner with another company in your country that is already doing business overseas.

Another tactic to utilize is to contact foreign companies doing business in your geographic area and provide innovative services to them as your customer. Once they are pleased with your products or services, ask them if they could facilitate you doing the same for their operations in other countries.

If you are already operating in foreign lands, use this new-found understanding of the upcoming middle-class growth from 1.8 billion to 4.9 billion people to ignite your commitment to fully embracing the company-wide innovation that will be necessary to avail yourself of this opportunity.

By taking these steps you will be able to grow revenue, attract new customers, and generate more profits.

If you need assistance with how to use innovation to grow your global presence, please contact us so we can show you how to do this by using innovation to transform your organization.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy and FastTrak Innovation Programmethodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com