I was captured by the following paragraph i read in Paco Underhill‘s “Why We Buy” book. Indeed a very good book especially if you want ideas but for a retail business, this is a must read. Let me recite the paragraph:
“A woman is carrying a handbag, and that she’s wearing a coat, which she’ll probably want to remove once she’s inside the store, meaning she’ll have to carry that, too. God gave here two good hands but she’s shopping with one. If she selects something, the free hand carries it. Now she’s down to no hands. Maybe, if it’s small and light, she can tuck the purchase under one arm. Perhaps she’ll sling the handbag over a shoulder or forearm. Then she’ll have….let’s call it a hand and a quarter. If she picks one more thing, though, she’ll run out of hands. Only an extremely motivated buyer will persevere. Human anatomy has just declared this shopping spree over.”
What do you get out of that? I said, “I need my hands!!”. And i want to relate that to strategy.
Strategy, in that story is our “business” hands. If we are too occupied or “full” with strategies we are going to get stucked. Just like that woman’s hands. There was one CEO i know that has his hands full of strategies until he can’t carry it anymore. In our hands, we can only carry certain things for a limited time only. then we have to unload.
With our strategies (hands!) also, business can pick and choose what they want and what they do not want. For example for a food retail business, they can choose to sell inside the mall or outside the mall. Both require different strategies. What if they want to sell both inside and outside the mall? Chaos! I have seen in Malaysia, whereby few retail brands try to have “captured both sides” of the mall but fail to do so because people are confuse. Customers are confuse on two things. Firstly, why do you need to have two outlets in the same mall? And which one should i go to? One thing about customers, when we are given options to choose most of the time we fail to choose. Customers go somewhere else to other outlet that has single message per outlet.
On the other hand, for business to business (B2B) businesses, having “hands” definitely very important and have to set it right from the start. i recently learned that large companies operation is very complex. A lot ogf stakeholders and usually steps taken are far too many and planning is on very long range too. Therefore, making sure the “hands” are picking up the right strategies are very crucial.
Alternatively, business hands also can be extended. Say you want to expand to new market in new country, you definitely cannot do it alone. We need a helping hand. This is where friendly parties, partners, sponsors and networks play very important role. We need to talk to them, identify and select them accordingly to become our extended hands for our business.
I recently met one CEO of a growing global university and he shared me a story. he said that in some African countries, people are still don’t want to spend on education. people save money under their pillow because they are so worried and have low access to information. they don’t trust bank so much and they live a traditional life. he also added, to set up a global university there definitely a big challenge, but the moment the country wakes up (just like China!), it is going to give a handsome return. So how he plans to do it? Find strong local partners and support them. This is because local partners, most of them have less money and do small trading business. The idea of effective and efficient are definitely alien to them but they are hard working.
I personally found this approach is very interesting and unique. Nevertheless, a good example of extended hands are needed if you want to go beyond your home base. But what if your hands are still full?
One, is to pray to God for a stronger back and not a lighter loads! Two, you need to prioritize. Prioritization is easy said than done. Even i sometimes overlook prioritizing, especially during busy period. I remember someone said, “when the going gets up, everyone is very happy!’. This refers to stock market bullishness, when it’s up everyone starts to forget basic things. But it certainly helpful to get our priority right.
I normally write down and prioritize based on time, processes and outcome. Lastly i also measure ROI. Sometimes, certain things you do is very painful but it’s going to give the highest ROI, so i choose to do that first. But as for you, you need to decide what’s best.
I will discuss more on Maven marketing in my next post, how to use it as your extended hands for your business. Cheers!
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