If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store hungry you know what it’s like to have your resolve disintegrate at the first site of cookies (or chips if you’re more of a salt fiend). It doesn’t matter that you’ve avoided these for three straight weeks, doesn’t matter that you’ve sworn off high fructose corn syrup; when your stomach is growling it’s very difficult to ignore these temptations. Case in point, I don’t like Oreo cookies. In fact, I never really have liked them. I’ve always thought they were a rather dry, bland cookie but for whatever reason, if I’m starving, that double-stuffed Oreos talk to me from the shelf and somehow manage to leap into my cart.
Every health, nutrition and fitness expert on the planet warns us NOT to go to the supermarket hungry. They do so with good reason, they understand we will be tempted to buy things we normally have the willpower to avoid. It isn’t that we can’t have these foods from time to time, but it is deadly to make them staples of our diet. So, the solution is simple and obvious – eat before we shop.
In business, companies get caught in their markets without really having planned ahead and end up investing resources on marketing initiatives that don’t provide much return. Just like hungry humans, companies will put forth a tremendous effort on marketing campaigns or in a certain initiative just because it’s available, or on the shelf as it were. Just because it’s available does not mean that it is a healthy move for a company to add to their cart of products or is a wise market to go after. Selecting things to offer which extend beyond one’s core typically dilutes what the company actually did do well. Furthermore, it usually jeopardizes the entire organization and all because the company went customer shopping while hungry.
A much more pragmatic approach you can follow is to understand who you are and what you do well. Once you’ve identified those unique identifiers, otherwise known as your core competencies, you’ll be able to make decisions from a centered place. You won’t be tempted to select low-nutritional, sugary, shiny object-like opportunities; rather you will be approaching your marketing from a place of wisdom. You’ll be able to specify who your target audience truly is and from there will be able to develop your strategy for growth around that specific market. When you understand your marketplace and are able to identify your specific role within it, that is when you are truly able to “Take Command of Your Market.”
You can’t eat everything you want and pretend to be surprised when the scale moves in an unfavorable direction. A company cannot continue to “me too” every initiative a competitor does and then be surprised when their profits are down. Taking command of your market is as simple as adhering to a diet. You need to understand who you are and what your goals are to reach your weight, or revenue target. Then you write plans and implement strategies that will help you achieve those goals. Yes, it really is that simple.
If you’ve stumbled a bit and found yourself dabbling in those items completely devoid of nutritional value for your company’s growth, it’s not too late. In fact, recognizing your patterns is a huge step. Now, correct it. Stop the madness and put the cookies (or chips) back! Don’t open up a company Twitter account just to say you’re on social media. (I respectfully disagree with certain social media activists on this point because I do not believe that every social media platform is appropriate for all businesses.) Stick to your grocery list or plan. Whether in trying to eat healthily or in business acumen, most of us have a pretty strong gauge of what makes sense, we just allow outside influences to sway our decisions. Take back control and take command of your market.
Now, go eat dinner and read a bit on your industry and you won’t have fear next time you go to the grocery store or when your boss asks you to make a strategic decision. When you know your market inside and out – you’ll make good decisions and good decisions are the very foundation for any successful plan.