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Kay Plantes is an MIT-trained economist, business strategy consultant, columnist and author. Business model innovation, strategic leadership and smart economic policies are her professional passions. A former Madison, WI resident, Kay now resides in San Diego, CA. The views on her blog are not those of her employer, IBM.

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June 2nd, 2009

Growth Strategy During a Recession

Climber on "Valkyrie" at The Roaches...
Image via Wikipedia

The rock face has many parallels to business’ external environment. Rock climbing starts by understanding it.

Stand back too far, you see everything, but can’t see initial steps up the rock. Stand too close, you’ll likely climb to a dead end i.e., without safe steps up the face.  With the right distance (the one that an exciting new growth strategy is discovered from) you see a promising directional route.

B2C companies should throw out existing assumptions about customers. A 20% and growing decline in household wealth is transforming our consumption patterns and preferences. We’re at a pivot point where change is non-linear, not trend-like.

The greater your insight into this transformation, the stronger your organization will be.

Your B2B strategic planning should focus on this question - What can or could we uniquely do to help a target market become more successful today and better positioned for the upturn?

In B2B strategic planning, consider five great value promises:

  1. We increase your revenue
  2. We cut your overall costs or reduce your breakeven point
  3. We reduce your risk
  4. We increase your market share
  5. We increase your asset productivity

Is your B2B strategic planning asking deep enough questions?

What new learning is driving your growth strategy decisions today?
For insight on business model innovation and business model differentiation, read my recently released book, Beyond Price.

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5 comments to Growth Strategy During a Recession

  • Dan

    Your five value promises are great reminders, Kay. When I think of my own business — which is about people, trust, and productivity — I need to be able to quickly weave the connections for existing and new clients; less than ever assuming that they will make those connections on their own. Behind this, of course, is fear; their fear, my fear. Under anxious circumstances it’s easy to hug the rock which as you say, may quickly end in no place to go. As someone who (a long time ago) did a little rock climbing, the analogy is perfect: lean out to far to get a view and your weight could shift, causing you to topple backwards. Hang too close and the bottoms of your feet start to face outward, causing them to slip out from under you. The only way is to stand straight up — a metaphor for a lot of things.

  • Kay, Your post is supremely timely, because all of our customers are looking for new ideas. When business is booming, firms and consumers get caught up in day to activities. I don’t think they look for new ideas or care about new ideas quite as much as they do when their survival is at stake.

  • Kay

    Dan and Brad, Thanks for your comments. I love the feet facing outward image, Dan. Brad, your comments made me think of Einstein’s adage: The same level of thinking that got you into the problem won’t get you out of the problem.

  • I like straightforward questions like these when it comes to measuring how your value to customers. It can focus communication on the crux of the issue rather than being buried in an avalanche of distracting bullet points.

  • Kay

    Thank Fred. Too many leaders don’t understand the vital importance of a short, compelling, relevant and differentiated value promise. They make their selling proposition all about them…leaving the translation of the “benefit” to the customer (and competitor). Every company needs a value promise and this value promise must be fully communicated within the company as well, so that every individual can connect his or her work to the value promise. What’s your firm’s value promise? Why, in other words, do and should clients choose you over your competition or doing their work internally? Have a great day. From Oslo, Kay

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