Free Espresso with Every Notebook Refresh (I’m Kidding)
Written on May 23, 2012.
So I talked last week about Dunkin’ Donuts plans to start selling pork donuts in China. I feel like MSPs and IT consultants can take a page from their playbook and start considering what their customers want, rather than forcing their customers to buy what they sell.
That’s strategic, but others might say it’s also tactical because Dunkin’ Donuts is executing on it. The problem is that in business, often one man’s strategy is another man’s execution. So how do you decide if you are really developing a strategy or if you are simply executing on a good (or not so good) idea?
In my mind, strategy always requires a good deal of thinking. It’s a “where do we want our company to go” mindset versus “what do I think customers will buy” worldview. Here’s a perfect example: After four years of designing and selling memory, Intel became a company that designs, manufactures, and sells processors. That was a strategic change that made the company into what it is today. In fabs around the world chips are manufactured – that’s the tactical, the execution – but the big idea – let’s make processors – that’s the strategy.
I often meet MSPs who follow the “I’ll sell what my competitors are selling” mindset. They believe this is a strategy to survive in a competitive market. But merely offering similar services is particularly problematic and doesn’t help you differentiate yourself in said market. Besides, by meeting your competitors service for service, you get into a cycle of having to offer the most – and that means you have to support the “most” and that means hitting your margin.
The reality is whoever is most efficient and offers the best customer service (regardless of what is on the menu of services) wins. What this really means is using all the tools in your toolkit to expand your offerings, and then delivering efficiently on all these offerings and not just relying on the one service that you’ve been most successful with. It’s a big picture worldview and it’s how you grow the business. Also, in the long run it’s easier than giving away a free La Marzocco two-group espresso machine with every notebook refresh cycle.
Drip coffee or a quad-shot, half-caff grande Americano with no room? Strategy or execution? Or a mix of both? How do you think about your business and the marketplace? Let me know here or on Twitter @Eric_D_Townsend.