SWOT or OTSW?

Is Your Company’s Value Prop Valuable to Your Customers?

 

3 Questions:

Why does a company offer what it does and when is it okay to deviate from the norm?  Does a company’s competition (peer group) decide what the offering should be or will innovation drive the value proposition?  Is there wisdom in following the beaten path and is it foolish to drive new inroads by diversifying a company’s value proposition?

 

Approach & Barriers:

Often a business is modeled after its top competitors in the marketplace.  If the top players offer a product/service, the up and comers may look to emulate that offering.  If offerings are comparable, economies of scale from top players may create entry barriers to up and coming competition.  If this proves true, service and personal touch may be the strategy for smaller competitors to make inroads within the marketplace since cost efficiency, apart from innovation, is often difficult to achieve due to smaller size.  The question remains, should a company follow the proven path with its value proposition, innovate or both to gain increased market share.

 

Larger Competition:

Larger competition has been successful because something within their value prop has driven value and resonated with its client base.   Utilizing this offering as a blueprint may not be a bad starting point, assuming that innovation and market trending are not going in an alternative direction.  However, a smaller firm may not have the same pricing flexibility due to economies of scale and therefore must innovate and/or out serve its larger competition.

 

SWOT or OTSW:

No company has it 100% down. Therefore, look for ways that products or service offerings can be better.  Instead of doing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), perhaps conduct a comparable analysis in a different order.  By conducting an OTSW analysis (Opportunities, Threats, Strengths, Weaknesses) you change the emphasis from what your company strengths are to what opportunities are in the marketplace.  While this may seem simple at first glance, it can have a tremendous effect on how your executive team views the analysis and bases its decisions for future action.

 

Realigned Focus:

Think of it this way.  If your company focused on its strengths and weaknesses first, and then viewed the opportunities and threats, your executive team may look to align the direction of the company to the opportunities that align with its strengths.  While there is nothing wrong with that approach, your company may be limiting its focus to opportunities based solely on what its strengths allow it to accomplish today.

If the firm looks at opportunities and threats first, the executive team may look at how to realign the organization’s strengths and weaknesses to better serve where the market trending tomorrow.  This focus helps gain foresight to potential innovation and may have a better pulse on future customer needs.  A smaller firm is often more nimble to make small or dramatic shifts to better service the market.  As a result, this will allow the firm to capture market share which will increase future cash flow and provide the ability to achieve greater economies of scale later on.

 

Involved Parties:

Including key clients and vendors within the value chain when evaluating the OTSW is also recommended.  Whom better to collaborate with than those that buy your product/services and those that provide your company the raw materials or resources in order to deliver value to your clientele?

 

Conclusion:

A company should study and learn from its competition but not be pigeonholed to follow in its footsteps.  A proper order of focus coupled with the right people in the room can help improve strategy discussions and drive greater value to the firm’s current and future clientele.

 

Author: Rob Comeau is the CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc., a management consulting firm that assists organizations with net profit increase.  The above article is a small snapshot that will help executive teams start on a solid path to competing with marketplace competition and realign focus to better serve existing and future clientele.  For more detailed information, please contact Rob at rob.comeau@biz-rc.com or visit their website at www.biz-rc.com.

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