wants vs. needs: focus on the gifts that keep on giving

Tis the season for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. All of us scrambling to score the best price on that so-called perfect gift. One that can be easily returned in a pre-postmarked box. Whether it’s that cozy sweater or those amazing headphones, we all have our list wants — those things we think we need to be happy.

In reality, have we ever really thought of the things that are critical to our life, family and friends? Typically, we don’t think that way when it comes to list making or gift giving.

Now think of this time of year as the voice of your business. What would your organization ask Santa for this holiday season? That changes things a bit, doesn’t it? Try not to focus on the nice-to-have items or the coolest new visualizer software (that everyone has). Think about what is truly CRITICAL to your business success.

To help put this in perspective, we’ve put together the top five things we think should be on your list.

Vision. Many companies in the industry have a hard time envisioning what the future holds and how it may impact their category and company. A vision is larger than your market intelligence team (if you have one) looking at housing starts forecasts and consumer confidence reports. It’s about reading all the trends and signs outside the industry and determining how those will impact your category and business. Only when you have deeper vision can you act upon it to help differentiate your brand and business to create more sustainable performance in the long-term.

Uncomfortableness. Yes, we want you to be uncomfortable in 2019. The more uncomfortable the better because the only way to stretch yourself is to get outside the norm. Develop strategic plans and goals that challenge the status quo. If you’re doing what everyone in your conference room believes is possible or if everyone is comfortable, you’ll lose out to competitors and new category entrants.

Courage. You can create plans that make you uncomfortable but you need courage to actually execute them, no matter the blow-back. Kodak envisioned the digital camera before it hit the market. They were very uncomfortable with the direction to cannibalize their film share and, in the end, they didn’t have the courage to fully execute their strategy. As a result, Canon and Nikon swept in and took leadership and dominant share position.

Experience: Today, Customer Experience is more important than the products you make or distribute. The better the experience, the more profitable the customer is for your business. Quality products are merely the ante to the overall experience a customer has with your brand and company. If you don’t know the JourneyPath™ of your customer or the experience you’re creating, chances are you’re not connecting with them on a level that’s critical to your success. Get to know your customer experience so you can continually enhance it and improve your business results.

Succession. Companies are only as good as their people, and your people create your brand’s Customer Experience. We hear every day about the labor shortage. Yes, this is a critical issue, but this issue also relates to blue collar workers. Those responsible for taking your company to the next level. Do you have strong succession planning in place? Are you pulling all the extremely valuable experience out of your more seasoned team member's heads? Are you hiring bigger thinkers that will stretch you beyond what you’ve known to be true for the last 20 years?

As you celebrate this holiday season, challenge yourself to think about the new year ahead and how you can integrate these skills into your day-to-day activities and push your business to the next level.

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