Private Investigator article

aaronhoos_client_pimag

Had an article published in PI Magazine recently.

While I don’t have a lot to contribute in the way of “How to Skulk” or “Great quotes from Magnum PI”, I do have two qualifications that helped me offer something meaningful to the investigation industry: I write and think and advise about business, and professional investors are good at investigating (but many could use help running their business). And, in my previous life as a sales manager, I had a bunch of investigators as clients so I came to understand some of their particular business needs.

Death and longevity of brands

Brands come and go. A couple years ago, people would have said “Twitter what?” But now it’s the latest in a long line of social media darlings.

These two articles, from SeekingAlpha gives us an interesting perspective on 12 brands that are likely to survive and 12 brands that are likely to die. I say it’s an interesting perspective because the writer is coming at it more like an investment analyst than a marketer.

A few surprises and a few no-brainers.

Read the articles here:

The Top 12 Brands Likely to Survive

The Top 12 Brands Likely to Disappear

Here’s why this is interesting to me: When you normally talk about brands, you’re usually talking about the marketing and positioning side of the business. But when you approach it like an investment analyst, you’re looking at a much wider range of considerations. By comparison: Twitter is a strong brand but its revenue stream doesn’t necessarily make it a lasting brand. I realize I’ve committed social media heresy by saying that Twitter is not a lasting brand. That is not to say that I’m predicting Twitter’s demise. Rather, I’m suggesting that, as a brand, it is very strong; but as a business it needs to think about revenue sooner or later.

Analyzing and repairing your sales process

I think a lot about the sales process. It’s a key element to using the Business Diamond Framework™ successfully to drive innovative change into an organization. Specifically, I use it to create content strategy, which is a burgeoning discipline that aligns content with your business’ aims. In this blog, I’ll talk about aligning content with your business’ sales process.

One of the strategic tools I’ve used in the past to examine the sales process has been the Flowscape and just recently, I’ve found that I’ve started to use it more and more.

Flowscape is a visual thinking tool by the guy who thinks about thinking, Edward DeBono. (See Note 1). He created this tool to map trains of thought and to bring to light the real issues in a confusing situation… which is exactly what makes it perfect for the sales process.

This is how I use it for analyzing and correcting the sales process:
1. List out all the different touchpoints that you produce or develop or participate in (web articles, billboards, business cards, website, Twitter, etc., etc.) and assign a letter to each. It doesn’t have to be in any specific order.
aaronhoos_flowscape1

2. List how one links to the other. For example, let’s say that Twitter drives traffic to your website and on your website you’ve got a place to sign up for an e-zine. So connect them together by noting how one leads to another. i.e., the website (B) leads to the newsletter (D)

aaronhoos_flowscape2

3. Next, map it out using the connections you’ve identified between the letters above.

aaronhoos_flowscape3

So, you’ve got your sales process drawn out in front of you. Now here is where the fun starts (at least for me).

Watch for warning signs: In the above example, it’s fairly straightforward but more often than not I see sales processes that look more like the one below, with crazy closed loops (F>G>H) or marketing that goes nowhere (I).

aaronhoos_flowscape4

Once you have your sales process mapped out, it becomes so much easier to figure out what to do about it. Find a way to connect your sales process together. Eliminate the parts that go nowhere.

Once you’ve fixed your sales process you can start to improve it. Create analytics around each point and make sure that they are apples-to-apples comparisons (or as close as you can get) so you can track prospect-to-customer progress all along the line.

And, make sure that your sales process doesn’t end (as the above examples do at “A”). Figure out how to offer more products and more services, or encourage users to refer colleagues to also buy. In the above example, there might be an additional ebook (or three or four or more), a paid version of the newsletter, affiliate links, a private coaching program, and so on. In other words, create an ever-growing loop. Below is a new and improved flowscape built from the original but improved to include more traffic-driving elements to the website (B) and then a closed loop to create more revenue per customer (D>A>F>H>G>D).

aaronhoos_flowscape5

Notes

  1. Tools for Thought offers more detailed descriptions and explanations.
  2. Purists will probably note that I have slightly modified the Flowscape. DeBono asserts that one thing will always link to another. And while I think that is generally true in many Flowscape applications, I’d suggest that in the sales process, it should happen but doesn’t… and that’s the purpose of creating a Flowscape to begin with. Start with what you have and figure out how to make it all link together.

Recommended reading: Blue Ocean Strategy

One of my favorite books:

W. Chan Kim and Renee Maubergne provide readers with a powerful way to look at your business, your competitors, and the marketplace to identify opportunities for differentiation and innovation. Their strategy canvas is the best strategic tool of the book, in my opinion, although their 4 Actions Framework is also a useful version of a familiar innovation process.

Lots of business books spend too much time talking about theory and not enough time offering practical guidance. But Blue Ocean Strategy was very actionable. I ended up with a HUGE list of opportunities that I’m implementing.

[UPDATE FROM 37 MONTHS LATER: I can report that the actionable ideas I uncovered using Kim and Maubergne’s book played a significant role in my business’ success. In the past 3 years, I have seen a dramatic improvement in business positioning, client quality, revenue, and profit.]

Business Diamond Framework: A new way of looking at business

The Business Diamond Framework™ is a new way of looking at a business.

There are many different kinds of businesses but all of those businesses perform the same four functions to achieve their unique ends. Those four functions can be depicted like this:

bdf-w-words-full

Leadership” represents the vision-casting and management of decision-makers. “Value-Add” represents the input-side of the business’ supply chain, which might include information or raw materials. “To-Market” represents the output-side of the supply chain, which includes marketing, sales, distribution, and other steps to bring a completed product or service to market. And “Support” represents the critical but non-revenue-generating functions of the business, which usually includes payroll, reception, HR, and other departments.