Businesses today face challenging times. Ever-rising customer and employee expectations, increasing competition from further afield, greater transparency, reduction in trust and customer loyalty, rapidly shifting technology, the increasing pace of change - the list of challenges leaders face is a long one.
But some businesses aren’t just surviving in this competitive environment, they’re thriving. And the way they’re doing that is through differentiation. They’re doing things their competitors aren’t doing or can’t do. That is what makes them 3D Businesses: they’re Dramatically and Demonstrably Different from their competitors.
There are no magical answers about what makes a 3D Business, but they do tend to share some common characteristics that we see consistently in what they do, and how they do it. These seven key traits aren’t a list of do’s or don’ts. But they are the basis of a model for business competitiveness whose principles can be adapted to any business. Have a read and see how your business measures up.
1: Get That Vision Thing
3D Businesses know where they’re going and their people do too. They have a clear vision that inspires, engages and motivates everyone in the business. Not a set of figures, slogans or pie-in-the-sky dreams, but a meaningful picture of the future that creates focus, direction, passion and commitment.
These businesses proactively develop committed, motivated and effective people at every level who have bought into that vision. Everyone understands where they fit in and how they are doing. And that means creating, encouraging and rewarding leadership at every level.
Have you got a vision that stimulates, excites and inspires? Have your people bought into it?
2: Think in 3D
3D Businesses do things that makes them stand out from the crowd and get people talking about them and telling others. Its about establishing a dramatic difference - an unmatchable bundle of products, services, skills, methods and practices that differentiate the business from its competitors.
They also demonstrate that difference and ensure that everyone understands it and the role they play in delivering it.
Dramatic difference is only any good if customers want it, recognise it, and are prepared to pay (more) for it. So 3D Businesses choose ‘em or lose ‘em! That means that they choose the customers they want to work with, and differentiate themselves in their chosen markets. They also ensure that their business-generating activity delivers.
What’s your Dramatic Difference? Can customers recognise it in everything you do? Do you focus on the right customers?
3: Create Delighted and Devoted Customers
Delighted and devoted customers come back for more and tell others. It starts with being easy to buy from and easy to deal with and it means everyone focussing on customers wherever they are in the business.
Delighting customers is more than “have a nice day”, or a ‘buy one get one free’ gimmick. It’s about going the extra mile and exceeding customer expectations, which subsequently raises customer expectations.
3D Businesses relish and embrace this. They work hard to raise the bar. They make their customers feel valued, they meet customers’ high expectations and they consistently deliver a great experience (great as defined by customers, not the business)
How easy are you to do buy from and do business with? How do you exceed your customers expectations? Do you do it consistently?
4: Forget CRM, Think MCR - Maximise Customer Relationships
3D Businesses have a total customer focus and are proactive (even obsessive) in focusing their efforts and resources to demonstrate this. They maximise customer relationships by proactively developing relationships that give the best to, and get the best from, the customers that they want.
MCR is not a one way relationship and is definitely not a passive thing. It’s about engagement, and about dialogue, not diatribes. A proactive approach to spotting and maximising opportunities is an integral ingredient, too. In simple terms, maximising opportunities is the pay off.
How good are you at building and maximising relationships with the right customers? Do you and your people know who those right customers are? Are you maximising opportunities with your customers?
5: Create An UBER Culture
Culture - the way we do things around here - is an integral part of dramatic difference and gives customers reasons to come back and to tell others. Customers experience that culture simply by talking to and interacting with employees, whether it’s by email, on the telephone or face-to-face.
3D Businesses work hard to create an UBER culture that creates real competitive advantage and reinforce their dramatic difference. They ensure that: everyone understands the culture and what is expected of them and that they behave in line with that culture. Systems and processes are built to reinforce and support that culture; employees are encouraged and empowered to live the culture; and they reward and recognise those that live it.
Are you totally happy with the way you do things around here? Are your people clear about the behaviours expected of them? Do your systems and processes reinforce the culture you need?
6: Keep in Control
3D Businesses establish and use Key Performance Indicators to lead and drive the business. They provide the people who need it with the information they need, when they need it, in a format they understand. Then they give those people the authority and mandate to use it. They also establish a clear profit focus and give ownership of the numbers at every level. It’s called empowerment
Do you get the information to the right people when they need it, in the format they need it in? Do you have a real profit focus at every level of the business?
Andy’s latest book, Think in 3D! The 7 Characteristics Of Dramatically And Demonstrably Different Businesses is available as a paperback and Kindle e-book here. For a limited time, it is available as a FREE download
Developing a dramatic difference is an ongoing process that demands you build on what you’ve got as well as the successful exploitation of new ideas. It’s about having proactive systems and processes to improve what people do, creating a supportive climate for new ideas, encouraging people to constructively challenge what they do, and creating time and resource to make those ideas work.
3D Businesses recognise that standing still actually means going backwards and so they drive and develop their dramatic difference continuously. It is not left to chance.
Are you inundated with ideas in your business? Do you have any systems or processes to generate ideas? How much time do you focus on making the ideas happen?
So how does your business measure up? How do you know? Why not ask you people? That’s what 3D Businesses do.