Business Growth: The Obstacle is The Way
Episode 66 of Landscape Digital Show reveals how to achieve business growth with marketing systems that identify and remove buying obstacles.
You may be familiar with Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacles is The Way, which has gained cult status with NFL coaches and elite athletes, among others.
The thesis of the book is one with which many of us are familiar. When the way out is obstructed it’s telling us something.
As Holiday puts it, “Turn it around. Find some benefit. Use it as fuel. Turn every obstacle into an advantage.”
Holiday suggests obstacles are what they are because of perception.
For example, some companies are too quick to fire customers that challenge them. That’s unfortunate because those customers may actually lead them to new discoveries and innovations that could benefit all of their customers.
The difference is perception and that perception can be changed.
Remove Buying Obstacles
Early in my career, I worked as a sales professional in the petroleum industry. The products we sold were mostly commodities.
As a result of this pricing was often the primary conversation topic with customers and differences of even a penny/gallon could prevent a deal from happening. But I quickly learned that matching the competitive price was only part of the equation.
That was the requirement for just getting in the game. The deal makers were other decision criteria such as assured supply and on-time delivery. Working them out tipped the scales in our favor.
Experience taught me that selling was mostly removing obstacles that prevented buyers from buying.
To accomplish this I had to thoroughly understand my company’s capabilities and what would be acceptable for each and every customer.
For example, some wanted delivery by rail car to assure them the lowest price, but others could only accept trucks.
Delivery was huge in that industry, and sometimes you could get a premium price for it. Of course, if you gouged a customer a few pennies when they needed expedited truck shipments, which was more costly, that would be remembered and factored into the next negotiation.
Every business regularly encounters obstacles and systems are necessary to manage them. Fortunately, in this data-driven world of CRM systems and marketing automation, that is readily accomplished if you take the time to build and consistently use them.
Why? Because soon there will be artificial intelligence technology to teach your system how to automate the process of understanding and responding to buying obstacles. But don’t worry about that now; just be sure to consistently feed customer data to your CRM.
Get Excited About Obstacles
In the previous episode, we discussed why The Coca-Cola Company eliminated its CMO – Chief Marketing Officer position and replaced it with several new officers that are charged with implementing a “growth-oriented and consumer-centered” strategy.
It’s apparent that Coke plans to focus less on traditional product marketing and more on the industry obstacles that inhibit growth, such as consumer lifestyle choices.
There is abundant research that both diet and sugary sodas can contribute to health issues. That has been a challenge for decades, and it deserves to be addressed sooner than later because consumers are increasingly aware of it.
What are the big obstacles in the landscaping or lawn care industries? A couple that come to mind is completing projects on schedule and the communication of schedule changes.
Just fixing that could make your company stand out.
The truth is in most markets product and service quality exceeds buyer expectations. As a result, the differentiating factors are the elimination of common obstacles that prevent buyers from approaching not just your business, but any business.
This should make it easy to get excited about being the company that is known for eliminating or mitigating them. Here’s a tip: The solution is often getting personal with people to show them you care and that you have a plan in place for backing up your promises.
That should be reflected in your marketing, such as website content, social media, and email newsletters, and it should especially become part of your sales and service training programs.
Business Growth is Data-Driven
Get comfortable with the term business growth because, for lack of a better term, it may prove to be the one that best represents the discipline formerly known as marketing.
Coke’s CMO was replaced by a Chief Growth Officer, a Chief Innovation Officer, and a Chief Information Officer. That combination acknowledges the fact that marketing today is now about the growth of more than product revenue, that it will require innovation, and that the comprehensive customer experience will be one that is data-driven.
Uh oh, that may be an obstacle.
That’s right, you can expect marketing to become increasingly technical and dependent on technology.
Instead of perceiving that to be an obstacle, why not get excited and get busy being the company that is known for using that technology to do more for its customers?
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Call to Action
Reconsider marketing and what it is becoming, and that is something bigger than just the promotion of products and services.
Business growth is more than just increasing sales revenue. It’s discovering new ways for connecting, engaging, and interacting with customers.
That comprehensive experience will soon become the benchmark of business and marketing success.