Drink Like a Lady Podcast

Season 4, Episode 5: ROAD TESTING THE STRATEGY

October 07, 2021 Joya Dass, Kathie DeChirico-Stuart Season 4 Episode 5
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
Season 4, Episode 5: ROAD TESTING THE STRATEGY
Show Notes Transcript

How do you road test your strategy? How do you poke holes in it to see if it can stand up to the market forces? In this episode, we are going to share how to do a SWOT Analysis.

1. START BY ASKING ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS.

  • How do we create sustainable growth?
  • How will we diversify our revenue streams?
  • When I was in the wholesale business in fashion, it was always a challenge to not put all of your revenue growth into one retailer. (Or eggs in one basket as we would normally say). Many times, we have a single retailer who begins to take up a lot of our production, leaving us vulnerable to an unexpected “pull out” or their own economic limitations that may impact you. Diversifying your customer base.
  • How do I adjust margins and costs to stay competitive?
  • How do I innovate?

2. DO A SWOT ANALYSIS

  • Collect competitive intelligence. What are the opportunities. What are the threats from your competition?  How does it impact your own strategic offering. With your ears and eyes to the information being conveyed through customers, media, etc.

STRENGTHS- Ask yourself

  • What do you do well in sales, marketing, product innovations, data capture and analytics as well key leadership?
  • What are your core competencies?
  • What differentiates you from your competitors? The standout word that anyone will refer about you.
  • Why do your customers buy from you?

WEAKNESSES

  • Where do you lack resources? People, talent, skills etc.
  • What can you do better or should outsource?
  • Where are you losing money, or your margins are nominal?
  • What competitors have an edge over your current strategy and infrastructure?

OPPORTUNITIES 

  • What’s possible? What can you bring to market? 
  • What is it that you want to capitalize on?
  • What do you have in the way of internal knowledge, resources, and capabilities to optimize?
  • Can you run with this? Can you optimize part of the process whether it is technology, product offerings, global reach, or marketing.
  • WHAT ARE THE NEEDS OF TARGET CUSTOMER. And how can your brand meet those needs?

Customer segmentation and targeting is critical to developing your strategy and understanding the overall needs and lifestyle preferences that you will serve.

 What needs or wants define your ideal customer? Utilizing surveys of current customer makeup will show gaps of fulfilling those needs.


What characteristics describe your typical customer? In my past brand building and strategic planning, I would have the teams create a Brand Persona- Give them a name and describe them so that we can bounce the strategy off of that persona for clarification.
Are there different profiles based on needs, wants, and characteristics? And do they align differently with each of those characteristics while remaining true to the umbrella persona?
For the segments of the target customers, are there clear communication channels and platforms to reach a large, targeted audience in that segment?

THREATS

  • INTERNAL THREATS
  • Lack of talent in the areas of perceived expansion.
    Lack of bandwidth to deliver the product/services that make up the opportunity list.
    Lack of cohesion in an organization for delivering the product or belief in the strategy and time implementation plan.
    Lack of motivation to meet the plan or those individuals who continuously say “What’s in it for me?”
  • EXTERNAL THREATS
  • Negative economic trends- think COVID last year.
    Competitor market conditions

Season 4, Episode 5:  Let's Road Test Your Strategy

[00:00:00] Joya: Hello. Hello it's 3:30 on Wednesday, October 6th. And we are at Episode Five, Season Four of Drink Like a Lady. And I'm joined by my cohost, Kathie DeChirico-Stuart, who is a business strategist. And this season, we are talking about how to think strategically. And very specifically in this episode, we're talking about how to road test your strategy.

Kathie, last time around, we talked about. If thinking strategically is the path that you're going down and what you should, you know, how do you get started? And now that you've gotten started, how do you road test that strategy? How do you poke holes in it to make sure that it can stand up to market conditions?

And what has been your experience in this before we kind of launch into our tips?

[00:00:45] Kathie: You know, I, I was really thinking more about this after. Um, I, you know, I took a look at our, uh, our script and what we put together and I thought, you know, what. Key things is you gotta be ready to do this. This is not an easy task.

It's not something that you just show up and say, I'm going to put a strategy together. Like, you know, it's like putting a Christmas list together. Now this is about really, you know, spending a lot of deep contemplative research, uh, time surveying and understanding where you want to go. So it's, uh, it's not an easy task.

[00:01:16] Joya: And I will personally say that I've just hired a new business coach and we are embarking on this layout of strategy for the next month. And it is, um, it is going to be a few months before we, before we get into doing anything. So I totally respect what you're saying. Um, all right. So number one. Is to start by asking additional questions.

Then in this case, you actually have a series of questions. What's the first one?

[00:01:42] Kathie: The first one is how do we create sustainable growth? I mean, really what strategy is is for a longer time period. It's usually it used to be five to 10 years. We no longer really think in those periods of time anymore, especially after COVID what it's really done to, um, the business environment.

But how do we want to create something that has momentum and could create growth that's sustainable and you can build? 

[00:02:07] Joya: Awesome. What kind of time horizon can you build for now, given that things and technology are changing so fast? 

[00:02:14] Kathie: Well, I mean, we still can say that three years is a good time period under which you want to build that momentum, but understand that during that three years, um, what will happen is you're going to have to continuously look back in and say, you know, is this working?

What do I need to do? And that's all the questions we're going to talk about when it becomes sustainable and, and staying on track.

[00:02:35] Joya: And then what about diversifying your revenue stream? 

[00:02:39] Kathie: Very important. You know, one of the things, you know, having been in retail and wholesale, especially when I was in wholesale, you know, what may happen is all of a sudden you've got a great product.

You've got great, uh, sourcing opportunities and someone wants to, you know, take up a lot of your production. We w because usually there's production, um, uh, measurements on the backend and you get really excited. You go, oh yeah, we just got, you know, another million dollar order. But if they're in, that's a small order by any means in today's world.

But if they all of a sudden take all of it up and you're not ready if they pull out if they change their strategy. And that's important to understand getting close to the customer enough so that you understand where their strategy is going at the same time is really critical and creating sustainable growth.

[00:03:25] Joya: The other thing I'll layer on to that is, you know, for the longest time, I only had a membership to my women's leadership academy and then I launched a masterclass and we talked about this a little bit, but. Oftentimes people will complete the six weeks masterclass, but they're not ready to part ways.

And so they're like, what other products do you have? And I'm so glad that I have another sort of step that I can siphon them to, which is the leadership academy so that we can stay connected, but in a different way. Um, and so to me, that's how I've diversified my revenue streams. Yeah. Big outlay for the six week period. When we're working together on your public speaking, then I can siphon you into the leadership and that way don't lose that revenue stream. I've diversified it. 

[00:04:07] Kathie: And that's really important to understand how you can do that without actually what we call cannibalizing, the current product that you have.

So in your case, the masterclass is a great foundation. And then the membership, what it does is it actually creates long-term value with your clients.

[00:04:24] Joya: Now number three is how do you adjust margins and costs in order to stay competitive? This new business hired for the first time, we're really taking a deep dive into my numbers and what are my margins and what does it cost for me to be me?

[00:04:39] Kathie: You know, lots of times people think, um, oh, you know, they've got all these big high-end numbers and, um, you know, maybe an actually we know this with OZY, um OZY Media, which just is having its, uh, you know, its heyday right now in, in, in what they've done in terms of, um, misleading. Um, there are future investors and they talked about one of the things that one of the misleading commodities was, well, they have 92% success rate in emails, 92,000 people.

And what happened was actually, they were buying all of that. So if you take a look at their margins in that world and those email database, they were literally bleeding money. So each of us, if you get familiar and it become really familiar in those measurements, Joya, especially you, as you move forward with your new strategies, you'll become more comfortable.

You'll see it faster and you'll understand how to pull back. Also, there may be different sources that you're not looking at, that you may want to start looking at, depending on where you want to take your platform. 

[00:05:38] Joya: Absolutely. And then finally innovation. I'm thinking now about an app, uh, because everyone is on this device now and that's how they connect with each other.

That's how they listen to podcasts such as the one that we're doing. So how do I innovate in order to stay relevant? Is the final question I'm asking.

[00:05:56] Kathie: And it's important to constantly think, how do you innovate without getting out outside of your core competency? And that's important. We know that there are so many tools and the media is so important nowadays.

I mean, um, that we are constantly need to be evaluating, not jumping on board right away, because let's times people jump on board and you're losing the traction that you have before. So, um, It's important to just keep open to what is, what is happening and where your audience is really, you know, spending their time as well.

[00:06:28] Joya: Absolutely. I remember moderating a summit for Pizza Hut or the parent company of Pizza Hut. And, uh, one of the places that they're advertising is in e-sports. So in other words, the context where you get to watch other people competitively play video games. It's called e-sports. And since nobody was in the stadiums for the last year, that's honestly where an advertiser could go and pay top dollar to get a captive audience.

And it helps that, you know, the average video game user apparently spends $75 on fast food. And the way that the average American does not. But knowing those stats is really important now, can I, but necessarily play in the e-sports arena? Probably not, but it's good to know that that's kind of where the eyeballs are going.

If you're a mass market player, like a Pizza Hut.

[00:07:12] Kathie: And also understanding the numbers, asking for numbers. You know, a lot of people do not understand what they mean and how they translate into business and profitability. The other thing is ask, and if someone doesn't know the numbers, I would be very weary of partnering with them.

[00:07:27] Joya: Absolutely. All right. So we move into our next chapter, which is to do a SWOT analysis. We did a slight nod to this in our last episode, when we were just talking about how to get started thinking strategically, but a SWOT analysis stands for what? 

[00:07:40] Kathie: SWOT is Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. And usually you put them on lines in terms of taking a look at where they fit within the, um, the context of each other. 

[00:07:51] Joya: It's important to be really honest when you're at your analysis and why is that? 

[00:07:58] Kathie: Well, you know, a lot of times, you know, what I have found is people who own companies who have never done strategy or, or aren't honest, all of a sudden they think they're great at something. Right. And they really aren't as great as they think they are. So the honest. Honestly, um, factor is key to making sure that you get past that get past your own self cognitive bias and really lay it out so that you know what you need to improve.

[00:08:25] Joya: All right. So let's dissect the first one: Strengths. What does your company do well? And what can you build on in that area of strength and expertise? 

[00:08:36] Kathie: I look at all of your functions. It's really important. I know that people, you know, have been really great and I believe this, this is what I even believe more as a great, um, skilled president CEO, COO, take a look at the entire package.

When you come in with a strategy, say, you know, we're really great at sales. Well, that's wonderful. Well, where are you not great. So that goes into your Weaknesses and then try to build that up and match that, make it more of an equilibrium in terms of going out sales, marketing, finance, you know, if there's financial components that have to be involved.

I know at one point we were bringing in some big orders based on some of the customers I re I was myself bringing in and I had to work with the financial team. They had to find ways in order to underwrite that financial component. The other thing is in your strengths, what do people really come to you for?

You know, is it technology? Is it customer service? Why? And ask the question, ask your customers, why are, you know, why do you come to me and, and write it down as well? So that's really, really important as well as a differentiating factor. 

[00:09:41] Joya: All right. So to recap, what do you do well and sales, marketing, product innovations, data capture analytics.

What are your core competencies? What differentiates you from your competitors and why do your customers buy from you? Do you have a story to support that? I think there's probably an interesting story. 

[00:09:59] Kathie: You know, I have, it's a very small story. We, I was in the children's business many, many years ago, and we did little leather jackets for kids anywhere from toddlers up to age 20.

And what happened was leather jackets for, for young men and women were going crazy. So we found this source who could do leather jackets for kids at a phenomenal price and deliver. Over and over and over again. And I had a great production manager in that world. And what we did was it then became our strength.

We became known for leather jackets and kids at a great price, and it was fun. It was fun to, to really take advantage of it. 

[00:10:43] Joya: The next piece is to look at your Weaknesses, any limitations, it can keep you from developing your strategy or executing on your strategy. What are the important questions to ask?

[00:10:55] Kathie: The important question is what can I do better or should I be outsourcing? Lots of times you do not have to do everything. A lot of companies now outsource their customer service. They outsource their advertising. They do not do their own marketing as well. Um, and take a look at what can you outsource because you do not have that mind.

I know a lot of companies are great in production. They're great in design, but when it comes to actually working on advertising and marketing, they don’t get it. They think I'll just put the product out there and it's going to happen. You're learning that in terms of what you're going through and your strategic plan marketing is very detailed as well.

So look at what you might want to outsource; where are you losing money? Be honest, take a look at those. You know, lots of times what I have found is someone would own a product or a service within a company and they don't want to give it up. Even if it’s dying. If it's dying, you got to look at it really critically, or maybe pivot there.

There's something there that work, um, and where the competitors have an edge on you and where can you take advantage of that edge? Um, as well. So the other thing is looking at your own resources. Are you ready? Are you really ready to do what you're saying? You're going to do, and if you're not make sure you're ready before you.

[00:12:07] Joya: So in other words, if you are a swimsuit maker and all of a sudden, one of your swimsuit's gone viral on Instagram and you have 3000 orders flooding in, are you ready to rise to the occasion and be able to make those 3000 swimsuits or your systems and processes not ready?

[00:12:22] Kathie: Exactly. Exactly. And you have to have the right talent in place. They have to be able to actually turn it around. The other thing we talked about is really making sure that the people inside are on the same page as you are in terms of building a business. 

[00:12:36] Joya: Opportunities. What's possible. What can you bring to market? What's important to consider here?

[00:12:42] Kathie: You know, a lot of people, I think it's a special person, the ones that do very well in sales, who can actually say, this is an opportunity. Can we go after it? They work with design teams, they work with their production teams. Um, and they say, look, we can get in front of this. And if we get in front of that, trend that opportunity, we can really build a nice business, but that, that takes a very special person. It takes a very proactive mind and something that you can take a look at in the future.

[00:13:10] Joya: And can you run with this? In other words, is there a piece of it, whether it's technology, the reach, the marketing that you can optimize, what does that mean?

[00:13:19] Kathie: You know, it's so important. Let's take a look at Blackberry. For instance, they had an incredible market share in terms of business individuals owning the Blackberry.

Every one of us had it. We really did, but what they didn't take advantage of and they didn't look forward was the pack that there was a process behind the technology that was evolving, you know, the camera as this personal assistant involved, you know, on that we use the, um, the back and forth in between customers as well and their own technology and their product worker.

So you see there, there's still a business, but it's not the same business. They didn't take advantage of the additional opportunities available to them. 

[00:13:57] Joya: Well, Harvard Business Review once wrote an article about myopic marketing and the railroad industry went out of business or at least went bankrupt anyway, because they didn't see themselves in the transportation industry.

And so eventually cars, trucks subbed them out. And same for Hollywood. Let's look at what happened over the pandemic. They always saw themselves in the movie industry. Well, low and behold TV came along and wiped, wiped out the needs of most people. And now, you know, AMC and the like are struggling. So, you know, if, if Hollywood seen themselves not in the movie industry, but in the entertainment industry, that means so it's laid good with the ground for the Netflixes and the Amazons of the world to come in and start to complete.

[00:14:41] Kathie: And I just got an article in and I have not read it. It just came in this morning. It talks about Amazon and the future of film. So that you're right on. In terms of your observation, Amazon has the database, it has the reach, you know, uh, all the individuals and it absolutely has the marketing, um, you know, power to make that happen, that there may be a big switch.

[00:15:02] Joya: When you're thinking strategically so much of it circles back to the customer and what your customer needs, how can your brand meet those needs? Let's spend a minute talking about that. 

[00:15:14] Kathie: It's really important. Is there a customer segments and that goes back to measurement, understand what, who is your target customer?

And then you have what they call the fish tail. And the fish tail is a few on the front end if you on the back end. But what you want to hit is that sweet spot. What. Are they these customers looking for, um, where are they going to go for? And making sure that you're speaking their language, that is so critical in terms of understanding how you're going to, once again, take advantage of the opportunity within that customer segment.

Listen, do sir. I was very early on in my career. I talked about surveys and someone was like, why, why do we know what's going on? You know, we're in design. Uh, no, you were in design, but you also may, you know, and this is another failure. You made a hundred percent wool pants for boys, eight to 20. And they were itchy as hell and we didn't sell one piece.

So there you go. It didn't work. Um, so once again, know what your customers really like, and don't be afraid to ask them.

[00:16:11] Joya: What characteristics actually describe your typical customer? I talk about this all the time with some of my entrepreneurs that are just starting out. Like, what does that person do on vacation?

What did they do on weekends? What do they read? What do they, how do they spend their free time? Are they married? Do they have children? Like all of those things have to really be considered because that all funnels down to the decisions they make around your product or your service. 

[00:16:36] Kathie: And one of the things we also did and, and I've done in the past a lot for companies is we create brand personas, you know, um, you know, Debbie, whatever, whatever the brand is and, you know, Larry, you know, whatever the brand is.

And I know that Ralph Lauren has done this for years. What does that brand persona look like? Describe exactly what your're talking about. Where do they live? Um, you know, what, what is their lifestyle? How many are married; how many have children? Where do those kids go to school? All of that information helps you to understand the dynamics of what they're looking at.

[00:17:08] Joya: All right. The last piece is Threats in our SWOT analysis. When we're thinking about road testing, our strategy and thinking strategically. So there's internal threats and there's external threats. 

[00:17:21] Kathie: A lot of people spend a lot of time on the external threats. And that's one area that yes, you have to take a look at.

You have to understand that, you know, you're not the only one in the world coming up with a product. People will say, I have this best product in the world. No one else has it. And I sort of always laughed to myself. That really isn't true. But if you want to believe that the biggest threat, I believe is the internal threats of lack of resources, lack of talent, lack of skills, and a lack of, um, understanding their own bandwidth.

And I'm in the middle of something of that right now, where, um, I believe, you know, I had sort of predicted a lack of bandwidth, uh, for a. A partnership and then that isn't coming to fruition. I'm seeing it because I had felt that as well, um, and cohesion that is why this vision and mission right from the get-go we talked about last week, put it together, make sure your functional heads understand it so that you're all moving in the same direction.

It is so critical in terms of meeting your strategic goals 

[00:18:21] Joya: And then motivation to meet the plan. I think I hear this at least once a week, where. Company heads, team heads are having a hard time motivating some of the employees. They have their A-players, they had their B players. How do I get my B player to be an A player? So where does motivation figure into the whole threat analysis? 

[00:18:40] Kathie: It's big. It's big. I mean, I've seen, and I see it all the time. I see people sabotaging the success of an entire team, an entire product. And it's really important, right? From the, you may not even be able to keep them on the team. You may have to move them off to, into another subset of business at that point, so that they're not sabotaging it.

Um, but you have to be careful and consistent in terms of what your expectations are. Um, and I do know there are some companies that at some point, if their strategy is bigger than, um, their, their history was, and they're looking to move forward, they sometimes start letting people go. There's not a good fit anymore.

[00:19:20] Joya: So we've covered off on the internal threats. What are some external threats? I think we are intimately clear with what an external threat was in the last 15 to 18 months.

[00:19:30] Kathie: I mean, just take a look at the last 18 months in terms of what has occurred. We. Every part of business and mindset and lifestyles, we're all thrown up in the air.

Um, and that was critical. You sold the best companies, the best leadership really come out in terms of saying, you know what? This is a economical. It's it's global. We've got to figure it out and you've got to get it. So just understand that may happen. And another article I haven't finished reading, um, today came in is that we should be expecting more of these type of pandemic, very, uh, critical health situations that may occur very swiftly.

So we've gotta be prepared to understand. We may have to pivot quickly. But, but point is somewhere along the line, health officials are saying there may be other upheavals coming, and we know how about climate?

We, you know, I, myself, I did not get affected by Hurricane Ida, but my immediate area did and have people's homes were totally just, um, you know, disintegrated, but the, that all of those are threats to our businesses. And the other thing is competitor market conditions. What are your competitors doing? You know, I love to sales and business development.

The reason why. It was all about the conversation. It wasn't always about the product. It really was. What could they tell me? Because they wanted to tell me, you know, what's going on with other people and try to create that relationship out there so that you can understand what's coming down the pike.

[00:20:59] Joya: The biggest example I can think of in terms of what the competition was doing is what restaurants did in the last, while those that had a delivery service. Or a takeout service were able to survive. And those that did not have shut down and we see, you know, other like, you know, business closed signs, we walked down the street.

[00:21:18] Kathie: What has really evolved is very eyeopening. And in rather than, uh, you know, it's sad. Um, and, and we were just in Princeton the other day, and so many of the stores are shut, but there's new opportunities coming. And I hope that those people don't look at the traditional ways of doing business.

Um, but actually for many of us take a look at what's really working in this day and age. 

[00:21:41] Joya: How to measure, that's going to be the focus of Episode 6. Now that you've laid out the strategy, figured out ways to poke holes in it. Now it's time to measure. And why is that important? 

[00:21:53] Kathie: You know, what I've heard consistently throughout is once you measure it, you can manage.

All right. So I know a lot of companies were on the edge and then all of a sudden they got someone in there, a talent source, and they started measuring what was going on and their business turned around. Once you do that, A, you know, where you're bleeding money or where you're making money, where to optimize that, um, you take a look at, um, even the numbers I do now, I do HR measurements as well in terms of happiness and where the talent is and what is working there.

But it is so important to understand that is going to fuel your success as well. 

[00:22:32] Joya: Kathie, if anyone wants to work with you, how do they get in touch with you? 

[00:22:35] Kathie: You can call me. You say my, my telephone number is  (609) 933-7600 as well as [email protected]

[00:22:49] Joya: And I am host to a public speaking masterclass. My current cohort is under, already underway, but if you would like to enroll in the November 4th mastermind or sorry, masterclass, um, you can always email me at [email protected] This is for seven corporate women who are looking to build a personal brand and need to learn the art of storytelling so they can convey what makes them great.

All right, Kathie, it's always a pleasure. I'll see you next week. 

[00:23:17] Kathie: Very good. Stay. Well, bye now.