This is the first post in a twelve-part blog series on how we help industrial companies generate business-to-business sales leads through marketing. There are four steps in the process: Assess, Plan, Build, and Profit. In this series, we dedicate three posts to each step, providing the reader with one complete year of inspiring monthly content.
1. An Honest Assessment – Who Are You… Really? | Assess
Assessment is our first step together, and it needs to be honest and realistic. It means getting in touch with your reality and the reality of your competition. It’s based on brutal honesty and thorough research. In the assessment process, you grapple with four simple questions regarding your business:
- Why are you in this business?
- What do you do?
- How do you do it better than anyone else?
- Who else is doing it well?
The biggest problem for industrial companies is that they don’t know where they’re at. They need a reality check—some way to figure out who they are, where they want to go, and how they can be better than their competitors.
You have to be honest. It’s better to start with nothing than to think you have something that you don’t really have. You have to get rid of the self-deception. What does your company do and who else is doing it? Who is your competition and what are they succeeding at?
We do thorough marketing assessments. We conduct honest marketing evaluations. We will help you understand your company’s position in the marketplace better than you’ve ever imagined.
At the end of the assessment process, you will know who you are and what you do best. You will also understand more clearly who your competition is and what it will take not only to compete well, but to win.
If you don’t have a clear idea about where you’re at as a business, it’s pretty much impossible to get where you want to go. You need to understand where you’re starting, and you only get that understanding through assessment.
I’m talking about the need for a painful, totally realistic snapshot of where your business is. At the front end of the marketing process, or the front end of the business process, we have to start with a transparent self-awareness, a clear view of what reality is.
More Than A Shiny Brochure
Some businesses might say to a marketing agency, “We just want you to give us a shiny brochure, or get us on social media.” But I’m saying that if I’m going to work with a business, then we need to start at the beginning with an accurate assessment. If they aren’t willing to do that, then that brochure or that exposure on social media is not going to be worth anything.
I have sat in meetings where people have talked about their current reality with no facts, no figures, and no factual customer insight. They have even discounted the critical thoughts coming from their own employees, simply because it didn’t make them feel good.
Well, guess what? Maybe it isn’t as good as you think it is. But maybe it’s even better than you think it is. The point is you only think it is. You don’t know it is. You need to know, because in business, you can’t take a dream to the bank.
Reality-Based Research for Marketing
Your assessment doesn’t have to be a grand 300-500-page document, but it does have to be real. One of the best approaches is to start with nothing, because you don’t have all of the prior preconceptions and prejudices and false thinking of the past. But in truth, that’s never the case. It’s very rare that you get to start up from nothing. In reality, most people think they have a good idea and they want to know how to take it to market.
They think it’s easy. It’s not. They think it’s free. It’s not. They don’t even know how to test if their idea is worth doing. And if they can’t do that test, why even try?
In other words, you have to get rid of the self-deception. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen people launch a business into a highly competitive field and they have no clue about how strong the competition is or whether or not they have giant gaping holes in their strategy.
Assessment starts with understanding yourself and what you offer, and then understanding the market.
In our next blog post, we will explore the high cost of failure and talk about value that can be measured. See you then.