Carraghyn - Chartered Directors

X Marks The Spot

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the US poet, once said: “If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it; Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth”.

Ever had a go at archery?  Birthday parties, stag days, practicing for that difficult business meeting?  There are many reasons why you might well have a go at archery - aside from the last one.  Well hopefully.

 

Yet somehow no matter how much you visualise those arrows splitting each other, in the middle of the bull’s eye, a la Robin Hood, somehow... well you know how it goes.  Stick with the day job.  So, arrows, shooting them ought to be easy, but Mr Longfellow hit upon a practical truth whilst intending a philosophical one; to hit a target with an arrow, you need to shoot higher than the target you are aiming for.  So it is with identifying, exploiting and mining your target markets to grow your business.  There are many attractive diversions when selecting how to engage in business development, some good, some bad.  The key is to know where you are aiming.

Once you know what your business is about, be it widgets or services, you need to know where you are going to sell it, and how.  Business Development - if ever there was a euphemism that is one: trolling up and down the UK in a car, jollies around the globe ‘developing’ a market, long haul slogs trying to land that deal, differentiating yourself by offering excellent service, the list is almost endless.  And the truth?  Well it is often a combination of measures and certainly not a simple answer.

The more cynical will pick their solution of choice and the more pragmatic will sigh and accept there is a cost to growth.  But in reality, the target in mind of developing your business, increasing sales and margin; revolve on your uniqueness being recognised by your target customers, and your ability to provide what they want, when they want it, where they want it.  Ergo business development.  So if your business is the Isle of Man, and you offer something that people are willing to go to you to buy, life is much simpler compared to the international business whose markets are truly global, and where as they might reasonably expect, they require you to do business where they are, on their terms and at times that are convenient to them.  That involves travel, planning and forethought, not to mention a sprinkling of foresight...

Picture that bulls eye target again, only replace the mental 50 in the centre, with IOM, then the 25 with UK & CI, and the outer rings with Europe and finally Rest of the World (ROW).  Suddenly you have what many would consider their marketing strategy - it could also be called a ‘Comfort Zone O’Meter’ - the further out you go the less comfortable you feel.  And therein lies the problem - since when did a comfort zone ever offer an opportunity to be different, or to excel and rise above the competition?  If we stay in our comfort zones and never go outside them, it is doubtful whether there would be an international space station, undersea exploration, laser eye surgery, and so on, an endless list of what we wouldn’t have.  Of course there would be a few things we might still have; square wheels, candlelight, sailing ships, steam power, quill pens and of course, no computers!  Or crackberries.  Not all bad I hear some say...

And there we have the heart of the matter.  We may well know where X is, we may indeed know who the target is, how to get there and even how to hit it in the most effective, efficient and dynamic ways, but if we don’t have the courage or confidence to exploit it then we remain in our square wheeled world with its limitations and lost opportunities.  The SAS live by their motto ‘Who dares wins’: you could do worse for a marketing and business development strap too.  So  a quick check: do you know where your X is and then have the courage to go and develop it so that you can grow your business?  Be sure to aim a little higher so that you hit your intended target.  And remember - diversions are rarely unpleasant or unattractive (they would be called stupid things you avoid) rather they are inviting cul-de-sacs that offer alternatives to your well planned strategy: aim higher, be bigger and better than you need to be and you too will rise above earth’s  attraction and see your business arrows fly higher and truer than your competitors.

In summary then, you need to know where your X is, aim high and let your arrows hit the target.

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