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15 November 2014

Are you using the whack a mole strategy?

Does this title feel ALL too familiar to you?

I write this blog as I had an encounter with a business prospect last week. “Tom” had met me and heard me speak at a conference about “Meeting the Modern Consumer” and sent me an email to discuss what that really meant for his business.

Tom has a 12 year old successful Business to Consumer practice that provides services to clients that are largely determined by regional and financial parameters. {I’m not going to tell you too much about Tom so we can be really candid about his problems}.

Tom’s main problem was a decline in new clients. He’s not attracting new clients or receiving as many referrals as he did 5 years ago. I asked Tom what worked 5 years ago. Why did people refer you and what are you doing now to try to change things.

His response had me picturing him at an arcade {remember those?} wielding the big puffy hammer, running from customer to customer or banging away at new marketing or advertising gimmicks – all in a frenzy.

He is suffering from the Whack A Mole Strategy and it’s taking a very visible toll on both Tom and his small business.

I group several persistent and pervasive problems in to the Whack A Mole Category and they don’t just plague the “Tom” Small Business Owners of the World. These problems affect Sales People, Directors, Executives and Entrepreneurs too.

Here are the symptoms that indicate you’re playing non stop game of Whack A Mole:

Priority Dilution – Are you just so busy, all the time? Do you focus on putting out fires that will burn house down instead of activities to fortify and build a fire proof house? Everything is a priority, therefore, NOTHING gets done. You might be addicted to activity. Feeling busy feels comfortable and like you’re moving forward. However, when plans and schedules are the first thing to go out the window, you never get to the things on your list which are ambitious or strategic. This is a vicious cycle that makes growth and forward progress really difficult. This is the “Spin Cycle” that can suck businesses in to a death spiral.

WHACK!

Old Process Loops – You know there are inefficiencies in your business if you’re duplicating information entry, doing things manually, or you haven’t tied together your information systems {records, invoicing, inventory, email, et cetera}. Not implementing processes and leveraging technology to streamline administrative work means you’re actually increasing your overhead and eating into profit margins. Evolution is a natural process for businesses to grow. If you’re sticking to your status quo and not investing in the tools to evolve your business, you will be replaced by someone else who can out pace and out perform you.

WHACK!

Shiny Object Syndrome – Facebook, Twitter, Google Ad Words, Chambers, Billboards, Radio Jingles, SEO Ranking, OH MY! Have you tried every type of sponsorship, advertising or marketing vehicle? Chances are none of them worked very well for very long. Advertising and marketing channels are less and less effective as we are bombarded with THOUSANDS of messages every day. Jumping from one method to another is NOT effective and a big waste of time and resources. Advertising and promotion are not effective if they don’t have a sales strategy behind them, closing the loop with customers with consistent communication, authentic messages and true delivery. Too busy to develop that strategy, many people jump to something new & shiny as a Hail Mary to pull them out of their spiral.

WHACK!

Crisis Mode – Substituting Priorities with constant Emergencies is not only dangerous to the future of your business, but operating in a state of stress and urgency is killing your employees, lowering morale and bleeding out in to your customer messages and experiences. It’s contagious and like a snowball, rolls downhill picking up more mass and speed. Sure, there are problems, customers can be upset and unexpected setbacks happen in business, but calling emergencies meetings, lighting up vendors or employees with phone calls and obsessing over problems takes tremendous focus away from customers, building loyalty, growing business and all the positive activities necessary to move business forward.

WHACK!

Do these scenarios hit close to home? Are your arms tired from pounding away with that puffy hammer? Are you getting whip lash from snapping your head in different directions? Is team morale at an all time low?

 It’s absence of strategy and definitely void of execution. Stop WHACKING – get away from the business for a while and get back to working strategically. Pick one place to start and commit to turning that area around. Don’t confuse emergencies with priorities.

Here are a few resources to inspire you and help you get back to the Growth activities that will move you forward to grow and be more profitable:

Priority Dilution
Responsive vs. Reactive
Organizational Tools and Technology Hacks
Delivering on Dinosaurs
3 Steps to a Proactive Revenue Strategy
7 Customer Barriers in your Business
Do The Math To Close Revenue Gaps

It’s not easy to remove yourself from your business and get perspective to make changes. Ask for help! If you’re drowning, it’s really difficult to build our own life raft.

If you need more help building strategy and execution, contact us to talk about how and where we can get you moving. Schedule your session to let us get to know your business.

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!

-sks