Strategies Vs Tactics – Maximize Profitable Growth
A long time ago I figured out that the money is in a strategy, not tactics.
For every dime to be made in profit (or fees) from working on tactics, there’s a dollar to be made from working on strategy.
For the purpose of our little article, let’s just define tactics as what needs to get done to realize a profit, after your strategy has determined what you should be working on to maximize profitable growth.
Most people – Business Owners/Copywriters/Consultants – focus on tactics, leaving strategy wide open to those of us that know how to do it. (Don’t worry – it’s not an exclusive club. You don’t need an expensive MBA or glittering corporate track record to get in. I’m going to tell you how to break into strategy right here.)
Pretty much the most important strategic work you can do is figuring out what a business’s Unique Selling Proposition should be. Quick reminder – a USP answers the question that’s on every customer’s mind:
“Why should I choose to do business with you, instead of any other competitive option available to me (including doing it myself instead or even doing nothing!).”
I talked about this in my previous post about USP creation, The one about ‘The Obnoxious Czechoslovakian Hotelier That Shocked A Nation, Saved His Marriage And Snatched His Business From The Jaws Of Bankruptcy!’
Now notice I very specifically said you need to ‘figure out what a business’s Unique Selling Proposition SHOULD BE’. I didn’t say you need to ‘figure what a business’s Unique Selling Proposition IS’.
Most of the time you don’t find a USP, you engineer it. You determine what a business must do (meaning what it will change or what it will become) in order to serve a specific market better than anyone else. By a specific market, yes I mean a niche.
For a UNIQUE Selling Proposition to work, it needs to be UNIQUE in a way that its PROPOSITION dominates the ATTENTION of a niche market.
Maybe USP should actually be a Unique Attention-Getting Proposition? Hang on a minute it is now: UA-GP™ – lol!
Anyway, that dominant position is what enables you to charge higher prices – for me, this is a critically important test of a USP. You see, all things being ‘equal’ people buy on price.
Equal = commoditized.
Put simply a great USP decommoditizes. The test of decommoditization is the ability to charge higher prices than your competitors and still win the business. You still win the business because customers are happy, willing, and able to pay for the UNIQUE part of what you do.
The starting point is 20% more. But a really good USP can mean double (or more) what your competition is charging. The high end of any tactical realization is probably a 20% increase in sales/profits. See, the money is in strategy.
Now, I used to teach USP in day-long seminars. That’s 6 hours of jibber-jabber and I run at about 220 words per minute. So I can spit out about 79,200 words on the subject of USPs. Pretty much what it would take to write a decent business book. If there’s anyone else that knows as much about the process and practicality of creating USPs I’ve not come across them – and I’m including Jay Abraham and Perry Marshall here.
Yeah, I know how jerky that sounds – I’m stepping in the ring with some super heavyweights there, right? Please understand though, that I’m not being egotistical when I say that. They do some things way better than I do. Just not USP. And like Muhammed Ali once said, ‘It’s not bragging if you can do it.
Anyhoo, my point is, ANYONE can get good at creating USPs. If you’re a copywriter or consultant, it’s a wide-open goal. 30 years ago businesses were struggling with this. They are still struggling with USP creation today. Because they are approaching it from the wrong angle – they are trying to solve the problem through creativity. And a powerful USP has nothing to do with being creative. Well, there is a little bit of creativity involved, but I promise you it’s a tiny element.
You see I got lucky when I first started in the ‘advice business’ some 30 years ago. I got some really good advice myself. And I’m going to pass that same advice on to you today.
A guy WITH an expensive MBA and a glittering corporate track record gave me some life-changing advice whilst we traded shots from a bottle of bourbon one lunchtime (ah, I miss the 80s!
If you want to be successful as a consultant he said, “You don’t need to know all of the answers, but you do need to know all of the questions”. I later heard Tony Robbins, arguably the world’s most successful coach say, ‘questions are the answer.’
I don’t need to be led to the water more than twice before I start drinking. So I developed a thirst for discovering EVERY question you need to ask in order to create a USP. I’ll show you how in a second. But eventually, I had over 100.
Then use the 80/20 principle which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. I started to whittle that long-assed list down to just a couple of dozen laser-focused questions.
And then, after watching an episode of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ one night I thought it would be fun to rename my seminar ‘Who Wants To Be A USP Millionaire?’ You all know by now that I like a good gimmick.
Then I refined my list to just 15 questions, like the TV show. Every USP I’ve ever created can be traced back to an answer I got to one or more of those 15 questions and only then adding a splash of creativity.
So, you’ve simply gotta get good at figuring out the right questions. Which is just observing good old ‘effect and cause’.
Here’s how I did it, I searched out every successful USP I could find and then I reverse engineered my way to identifying the questions that they must have answered to come up with their USP*. Do this and you’ll soon have your own hundred questions. Which then becomes 50. Then 40. 30. 20. And one day just 15, maybe.
*BTW – you can apply this same technique to reverse engineer your way to succeeding in any other sales and marketing discipline – the ‘magic’ happens when you stop looking for answers and focus on figuring out the questions instead.