On Friday, Jane participated in two business strategy sessions. On Saturday, we conducted one of our own for WME Books.
Friday morning's strategy session was saved by Bob Lurz of the Rochester Professional Consultants Network. We're a non-profit organization of which Bob is a long-standing member. Jane recently assumed the Presidency of the organization, following in the very large and capable footsteps of MaryAnne Shew, and it was Jane's job to conduct the strategy session, after our usual Friday morning breakfast meeting held at Wegman's in Penfield.
Not really knowing HOW to conduct a strategy session...though we have attended a few...Jane drew up a short agenda at 6 a.m. and thought she at least had a handle on what to do. Was she ever in for a surprise!
Strategy is such a vital part of any business plan, yet too many of us overlook the need to bring in outside help to develop a successful business strategy. We feel that knowing our business, we know what strategy to use to get the business where we want it to go. Jane is here to tell you otherwise. As we began our strategy session for RPCN, Bob Lurz, who is a strategist by nature (but, apparently doesn't have a website!!!!) whispered advice in our ear, and presented us with last year's strategy plan...which, Jane saw was WAY better than what we had put together.
With Bob's coaching (on the spot), MaryAnne's taking notes on her laptop, and all of the other members participating, our strategy session went well...better than it would have if the members assembled there had not put in many excellent thoughts and suggestions. And, it taught Jane a little bit about how important preparation is...when thinking about business strategy.
Friday afternoon, Jane was part of another strategy session. This time it was conducted by our good friend, Manish Puri, of Innovative Solutions. The strategy session was for RAMA, Rochester's chapter of the American Marketing Association, of which Manish is the current president. There were a number of other board members in attendance -- people from great industries and companies here in Rochester, and we were treated to a great meal at Woodcliff Lodge, out in Victor (although the mailing address is in Fairport; go figure...Jane wonders about the U.S. post office, sometimes.)
Manish (and his vice-president, John) were very well-prepared. Their agenda was time-stamped, with explanations and information, enabling the board members to prepare (albeit, on the spot) for each session before it was put on the table. Jane learned a great deal -- not only about RAMA, but about strategy sessions, and about interaction between groups of people who may or may not know each other.
This is valuable in our marketing to women who shop online message because each woman, when she undertakes a shopping expedition, has a strategy in mind. There is a purpose, there is a requirement, there are action items, there are desires and expectations. When women shop, it's not merely to 'buy.' An important element in our strategy is the shopping experience.
If you give some thought to the strategies we might use...the goals we have...and the purpose of our shopping expedition (even if it's only window shopping) you will be one step ahead of your competition, who is only thinking of the sale. Before worrying about the sale (just as we had to put where we've been and where we want to be before attaching action items in our strategy sessions), think about the underlying reason Jane or Julie or Sue or Mary is clicking around the net in the first place. Think about how their actions relate to your sales goals...then...give them an experience to remember, by strategizing what your company is all about, and how it can make their lives better.
That is basically what we discussed at the strategy session on Saturday, for WME Books. We looked at why the company was started, what's happened (who's come on board, what books we've published and what books are in the que, and how to move forward to be true to not only our business plan, but the authors we hope to work with THIS YEAR.) Our 3-hour session taught us that we're on the right path, but we occasionally allow ourselves to get pulled off, into areas that are not part of our strategic plan for success, which detracts from our overall purpose -- which is authors helping authors. (see A-ha!)
Two men, two women...working together to solve problems that will ultimately make the books our clients write more successful. And, by virtue of their success, to build on our own. Isn't that what YOU want to do with your website? Help women make the purchase, send them off happy, glad they chose YOUR site to buy from? Thereby insuring your own success because a good online shopping experience can be equivalent to...a nice, warm bubble bath?
What's not to like about that?