17 March 2006

Business development for the smaller business

Business Development is often an activity which businesses see as important but non-urgent, and it frequently gets pushed to the bottom of the 'To-Do' list by all the urgent firefighting that can take place day-to-day. That's a problem because Business Development is too important to ignore.

It's strategic, it's fundamental to the future success of the organisation and the people who are doing it need to be effective. Regular readers will know that I'm obsessed with measurement so the question has to be: 'what is being done and what is the payback for each of the activities?'

The other issue is the number of Business Development methods you use. Organisations can fall into a regular pattern of Business Development behaviour and limit the number of techniques that they employ. They often look at what their competitors are doing and try to emulate or improve on that. Try a brainstorm with your friends and colleagues, you might be surprised at how many new ideas you can come up with to develop your business better. I could tell you the contents of my list, but that wouldn't really be helpful to you. If you develop a list of your own, you will understand why you chose those items and you are more likely to follow-through.

Why is it important to use a variety of different approaches? The answer comes back to the old advertising industry measure OTS (opportunities to see). Only part of your audience will see any one of your Business Development efforts, so by using a variety of different approaches you increase the reach of your business in your target market. What is important though, is that once you have set up a channel (and once again, I'm deliberately not inserting a list) to speak to an audience, you keep it live.

Here's an example of what I mean. I came across a business which was involved in providing products and modules for high pressure applications. We talked about his business and one of the customers he had encountered was a garage specialising in repairs and maintenance of a classic sports car. I suggested that he work more closely with his customer to develop a range of kits for different classic models from that manufacturer and then advertise them to DIY repairers through the owners' club and mailshots and telephone sales to garages similar to his client.

He could cheerfully offer a 5 year guarantee on the kits since the mean time between failures on the parts was substantially longer than 10 years and his margin would be high. The garages' margin would be high, too. A genuine win-win. Once he had proved the concept with that manufacturer, he could run the process again with other classic cars. Did he do it? I don't know. I include it as an example to show that Business Development need not be rocket science. This was simply an idea that he hadn't come across because he was too deeply immersed in the day-to-day.


Anonymous John said...

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10:58 pm  

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