For thousands of years, the Inuit people of Alaska and Canada have hunted whales as their primary food source. They go into the ocean in small boats, pound on drums and the sides of their boats to drive the whales towards shore. Then, when the whales are in shallow water, they kill them with little more than spears.
Now why would they do this, when there is much simpler and less dangerous game they could hunt - such as rabbits, foxes, seals or fish?
Why go after the most powerful mammal on earth?
Well, it is all to do with the 'rate of return'. A whale has a bigger ROI for the tribe than hunting a rabbit. Comparing the calories required to kill a whale with the calories the community get from it, researchers have proven that a whale is by far the best investment of their energies.
Mind you, this strategy isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the resources and skills for hunting whales then rabbits would be a much smarter bet! Also there’s the ‘time to plate’ consideration (cash flow) – the tribe can’t always afford to wait, without eating, for several weeks for the hunting expedition to return.
When it comes to getting a strategy in place, there are three key questions to ask.
1. Are you investing time and resource in pursuing the most appropriate partners for your business?
An effective strategy won’t guarantee a win, but it will certainly skew the odds in your favour. A good strategic plan creates a competitive advantage and will enable you to utilise your resources by focusing on key opportunities and reduce complexities in your decision making.
Your strategy should identify and evaluate ideal market segments, partnership types and specific organisations to target. This should be reviewed regularly to reflect changing conditions and feedback you’re getting from your own successes and failures.
2. How are you establishing, validating and monitoring opportunities?
It is important that opportunities are managed well to ensure that you maximise your chances of success. This goes from initially understanding ideal partners for your business, through to validation of specific opportunities and monitoring performance of the relationship.
Establish: Ensure you fully understand your business objectives and strategy. This will help you to identify potential targets.
Validate: A critical component of a successful new business strategy is to pitch only business that you really want, and believe have a reasonable chance of winning. Remember to assess both ‘winability’ as well as ‘attractiveness’ of the opportunity.
Monitor: Track progress against opportunities and new accounts. Learn why partners are choosing you over your competitors or why they are taking their business elsewhere.
3. Why should your ideal customer purchase from you rather than anybody else?
If you can answer this question in a sentence, then you have a strong unique value proposition. A strong and differentiated value proposition can go a long way to position your business to succeed in your target market. It is the promise of your brand.
A short statement, it tells your prospect exactly why they should buy from you and what they will get from purchasing and using your products or services. It should be clearly focused on outcomes (i.e. benefits rather than features).
Try to understand the emotional as well as rational value that you will bring as this will help to bring out game-changing insights.
A strong value proposition will:
- Focus on customers’ point of view
- Differentiate you from your competitors
- Create interest so that your prospects ask questions and want to learn more
- Include demonstrated results that will catch the attention of decision makers
- Increase the quantity and quality of your sales leads, making conversion easier
- Align your business operations more closely to customer needs
As a startup, you are a lean operation. So, taking the time to work out exactly where to direct your limited resources is an invaluable exercise to undertake. Your size isn’t a limiting factor. Like the Inuit people, you too could successfully hunt whales.
Andy Davies is Director of Marketing Strategy and Insights at AXA UK, and an Ambassador to the Nitrous programme.