I'm often asked by potential clients how I will work with them to get a specific result -- for example, improve distribution in a particular region, gain more media recognition, or improve overall sales. Some people are surprised that my approach to brand development/launch and turn around projects is always the same, even though the individual client needs may be quite different.
Delivering superior client ROI is my goal, so the approach I take to achieving it is very important. After a few years in practice, I'm confident that the Institute of Management Consultant's five phase scientific approach is the best out there. (In January, I began an intensive six month course, which is the first step to achieving the Certified Management Consultant designation recognized in 43 countries and awarded to less than one percent of practicing consultants.) It reflects the methodology I've developed as a brand champion over the years and my belief that marketing-driven wineries are more competitive in today's overly crowded market place.
I begin each engagement with the Entry phase, where I meet with a potential client to learn as much as possible about the company vision, goals, issues and concerns. This is also when I ask a series of questions to assess potential mutual fit and gain an understanding about the scope of the project. Next I deliver a proposal outlining goals, deliverables, scope and fees.
Assuming a contract is signed, the next phase, Diagnosis, begins. In this important research-focused period, I gather data using surveys and informational interviews to assess winery strengths and challenges. Then present a report synthesizing these findings and outlining areas for opportunity and challenge, as well as recommended direction.
The third phase is Action Planning, where I deliver a strategic marketing plan that will guide all winery efforts to achieve the client's goals. This detailed plan outlines the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why) and how results will be measured.
Sometimes potential clients want me to jump directly to what is the fourth phase, Implementation. (In a few engagements, such as a creating a relatively straightforward website in a more limited project, this is possible, but most integrated marketing communications efforts require the full process.) During implementation, I am typically working with a small team to make sure that what is in the marketing plan gets accomplished.
The fifth and final phase is officially called Termination (I prefer Close or Transition). At this point, I've delivered the project as outlined in the original contract, and either need to transition out or create a new engagement letter.
Operating with a defined process enables me to use best practices, manage expectations, provide realistic timelines and ultimately, deliver results.
Strategy is critically important in every business. But it is meaningless if it resides only on paper or worse, "in your head". One of the primary challenges of any owner/ operator faces is how to live his business strategy, aligning goals with successful execution.
A few months ago I read an HBS article interviewing the authors ofOne Strategy: Organization, Planning and Decision Making - Iansiti of HBS and Sinofsky of Microsoft. Their comments were impressive, and I immediately ordered the book.
In One Strategy we learn that companies have two strategies -- one explicit; the other implicit. The former is what's directed by management and visible in presentations and marketing plans. The latter is reality -- the actual execution of the strategy by team members based on their decisions and behavior.
A winery is therefore "living the strategy" when both explicit and implicit are aligned. Iansiti argues that strategy is a function of the way the company operates: "Strategy therefore becomes the product of the firm's incentives, structures, and patterns of behavior, not the other way around."
Are your winery's compensation structure, processes and patterns conducive to rewarding your team for making your intended strategy your reality? If so, you are achieving and operating as you set out to do and adapting to ever present change in your company and the industry. If not, you are likely struggling with issues ranging from increasing inventory, decreasing sales, operational inefficiency and/or team turnover.
In my practice, I specialize in aligning strategy with results. If you are struggling with these issues, contact me (360.210.5551 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss how we can work together to help you achieve your ultimate vision, enhancing sales and efficiency.
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