Today’s marketplace teems with both opportunities and competition. The way to succeed amid continuously changing circumstances, in my view, is to pursue a strategy for growth. My firm, Spector Group, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has for years followed three distinct, but interconnected elements for strategic growth:
• Deepening relationships with current customers
• Identifying and prioritizing market opportunities
• Adopting a differentiated brand position
I believe these have been critical to our success and, while the details may vary by firm and industry, I think the principles have broad application.
First, the relationship element. Top executives, in particular, should make customer relationships their top priority. Project completion shouldn’t mean the end of a relationship. Customers have a lot of insight to give into the market and on what motivates them. I believe companies can get significant rewards if they continuously work to understand their customers and their businesses.
Further, customers can be your best advocates for new work and referrals. So, I urge any business leader to go beyond transactional relationships with customers. Make an effort to understand what made you successful in winning the customer’s trust initially and what it will take to maintain that trust.
The second element we at Spector Group practice is recognizing market opportunities. It’s important to look locally, in your own back yard, of course. But there may also be risks worth taking in markets that are unknown to you. This is happening right now with Spector Group as we launch a strategic partnership called the SG Latin America Studio.
I didn’t go looking for this opportunity, and I had only cursory knowledge of Latin America. But the calculated risk taker in me was intrigued when a colleague approached me with the idea. In researching the region, I learned some surprising things, such as the amount of real estate development in Mexico and the interest and desire in working with U.S.-based architects and master planners. This was a motivating factor in our decision to expand. I emphasize that I did a tremendous amount of due diligence and analysis before moving forward. But, that’s an essential part of identifying prime market opportunities: make room for the unexpected.
The third element that’s critical for strategic growth is identifying a brand position that differentiates your organization. I think brand positioning works on two levels. In some ways, a company’s value proposition and key differentiators can vary from market to market and project to project. Executives need to stay alert to the variables in the marketplace and present their company’s strengths in the light of what’s most relevant to the customer’s requirements. Always look for what most differentiates your company and most benefits the customer.
With that said, I feel it is important to underscore that your positioning – however it may adjust – should always reflect your core beliefs and be authentic to what your company stands for. Look for the principles that are part of your company’s core operating philosophy and adhere to them. They provide the authenticity that each firm needs to have. Changing just to change can be just as detrimental as remaining stagnant.
To track your strategic growth, create micro-goals. Reviewing how you’re doing on a month-to-month basis, can make the long term more manageable. It may also draw your attention to opportunities to improve and adjust your strategy.
I’d suggest that executives look for ways to utilize all levels in an organization in planning strategy. At Spector Group, we have a great group of core team members who’ve been with us for 25 – 30 years. They are technically brilliant and they understand the marketplace. We also work with the millennials who are fresh out of school. This mix creates a dynamic, lively dialogue that helps to keep our strategy fresh, flexible, and evolving.
In a competitive marketplace, strategic growth really is the only viable option. Hit and miss will take too much time and be too costly. Put these three core concepts – relationships, identifying prime opportunities and maintaining brand differentiation – into practice every day and watch your company grow.