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How to Make Sure What You Sell Is What the Market Needs

How to Make Sure What You Sell Is What the Market Needs

Why is there so much fuss about marketers having to be knowledgeable about value chain analysis? We could easily just go around using strong advertising strategies. That, however, is not all that is required for a sound business strategy.

The more knowledge you have about the interaction of your product or service with potential customers the easier it will be for you to pair up company potential with customer requirement. If you are a winner at that, you are a winner at marketing!

Michael Porter in his book, “Competitive Advantage”, clearly explains how important the value chain is for a company, and how value is created within the organization [1] is better explained here as well. For the most part, companies would consider value chain analysis as an essential part of their business strategy.

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Senior management is responsible for organizing managers in the Operations, Sales and Customer services to identify the different areas connecting Company value chain to Customer value chain. This will help to discover what the consumer requirements really are.

The phrases involved in a value chain analysis

A proper value chain analysis for your company can considerably improve your company’s efficiency and effectiveness in meeting your customer requirements.

The main factors involved are the following:

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Logistics

This refers to the coordination of information flow and goods coming in and going out of your business organization. A sound analysis of inbound logistics enables the identification of options to lower supplier costs as well as strengthen relationships with potential suppliers. Outbound logistics, gives you an insight relating to the flow of goods and required information to your buyers, is considered to be a crucial distribution and service factor.

Operations

This stage in the value chain involves a variety of procedures, equipment, and workers employed in production, purchase and sale of inventory to customers. Manufacturers aim to produce top-quality products at reduced costs by identifying ways to optimize manpower and equipment costs and getting rid of wasteful production steps. An example of this is by using Platform.ly [2], where marketing is made in automation to achieve lossless tracking and also runs your whole back-end business. Resellers’ operations are further analyzed to further determine ways to improve inventory management and the ability to efficiently merchandise it to buyers.

Front-end Activities

Porter stresses on marketing, sales and support being core front-end value chain activities. Businesses have to repeatedly review and improve marketing research, promotional activities as well as customer support. Effective research aids in getting to know more about your present and future customers. Promotions such as advertising and sales serve to gain consumer attention. Prominent companies are in the constant habit of reviewing their on-going promotional strategies in search of improvement opportunities. Customer retention is essential to long-term success.

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Supporting Factors

Porter implies that a value chain has four supporting factors:

  • Infrastructure
  • Technology development
  • Human resources
  • Procurement

Infrastructure and technology development refer to the construction as well as the development of buildings, supplies, equipment and technology needed to assist current business activities. A thorough analysis of your infrastructure and technology contributes to discovering ways to enhance your structure in order to support customers. Human resources concentrate on the attraction, retention, and motivation of top employees. Procurement is how the purchasing departments focus on routinely reviewing opportunities for getting reduced costs from suppliers or favorable transactions.

What can value chain analysis give us?

Value chain analysis does have important advantages to be considered, such as:

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  • a very crucial role in determining important organizational, tactical as well as strategic issues connected to the business.
  • a very valuable tool in that it helps businesses to fully exploit all possible sources of competitive advantage.
  • applicable to all types of businesses no matter what the industry or business size.

How is value chain analysis insufficient?

As is typical of any theoretical framework, the value chain is not completely flawless. These can be considered as follows:

  • assumed that it is feasible to split company operations into two different categories: primary and support activities.[3] If we were to take a realist viewpoint, this may very well prove to be contrary when considering the many complexities of business operations today.
  • time-consuming for practical application. After all, we are talking about a thorough analysis of all business operations involved.
  • may not be possible to attain all the adequate information needed for the proper conducting of a value chain analysis.

When is it suitable to apply value chain analysis?

There are many different ways of adapting value chain analysis in various industries, some examples are:

Delivery Service

In order to enhance market share as well as brand loyalty, FedEx’s value chain clearly identifies the importance of employee development by using proper human resources plans and improvements in infrastructure.

Food and Beverage

Properly choosing and locating top-quality coffee beans, enhancing trustworthiness by providing top-grade consumer service, and successfully marketing their brands were the most important elements in Starbucks value chain. PizzaHut managed to defeat its competitors by efficiently delivering a cheaper product than just concentrating on premium pricing.

Retail

Walmart is known to use value chain analysis in order to maintain low prices for their customers. By constantly identifying suppliers, comparing in-store as well as online shopping, and developing innovations have contributed to Walmart’s commitment to making it easier for people to increase their savings.

Reference

[1] MindTools: Porter’s Value Chain
[2] Platform.ly: Home
[3] Mayday Network: Understanding Value Chain And It’s Importance to Business

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Junie Rutkevich

Game Developer of iXL Digital

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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