Eight Ways to Kick-Start the Decade!
by Bonnie Janzen
As you start the New Year, you are not only saying hello to the beginning of a new year, but to a whole new decade!Congratulations! You have survived yet another holiday season with your family and friends, not to mention all those calories. Let’s start planning your accomplishments for this decade by focusing on what you will achieve in 2020.
Whether you are a believer in resolutions or not, goal-setting is an excellent process to help you roadmap your personal success! Many of us start the year off with resolutions or plans that read something like the following: I’m going to give my family and friends a better me, by doing ‘XYZ.’ Ask yourself “How can I have more of a positive impact on the people that matter the most?"
Maybe your goals include:
- Exercising more/Getting healthy
- Learning a new skill or hobby
- Living life to the fullest
- Saving more money/Spending less money
- Spending more time with family and friends
- Traveling more
- Reading more
- Dedicating more time to an important cause
Now as you think about your career and your business, this is your roadmap to your professional success. How can you have more of a positive impact on your business or career? This year, your goals may be to have a bigger impact in and on your business by focusing more on:
- Driving revenue.
- Improving margins.
- Discovering or expanding new business areas.
- Managing costs.
- Keeping more customers.
- Being a better mentor\team member.
Much as you approached your personal goals and resolutions for 2020, consider starting a list of your business goals and resolutions (if you haven’t already). I don’t mean the ones for the company, or your department or region, but for yourself, personally.
1Exercising More/Getting Healthy Flex Your Innovation Muscle
NPD (new product development) targeting your key new targets, such as Millennials. Steeped in consumer insights and informed by macro trends in consumer behavior, your brand can approach product innovation by reaching out to consumers who are creative and trained to think “out of the box.” Working with them, as well as with experts in new product development in your industry (e.g., food and beverage scientists, chefs, designers, fragrance experts, etc.), you can come up with new product ideas, new packaging, new delivery systems, etc.
Then, you test the product concepts among a small sample of your target audience with a consumer concept test. After the concept testing, you would design or create the winning products for usability-testing, or prototype-testing. If this were a consumer packaged goods product, you might test the winning ideas in a sensory panel. These steps can be small and fast to keep the development of the final product very cost-efficient while making sure the product is consumer-tested and approved! This will give you a healthy new product pipeline filled with options in all the key areas for your key target markets.
2Learning a New Skill or Hobby.
This could translate into building a usability lab or a sensory lab if you do not currently have one. If you chose to set up a usability lab or sensory lab, even if it is a small-scale testing area, you could use corporate employees from areas other than marketing and product development. They can provide learning and valuable feedback in your innovation and NPD efforts. The key is to get early-stage feedback to your scientists and product designers as quickly as possible. (See Usability Webinar by Clay Dethloff & Roger Wallace.) Of course, you could also learn some qualitative interviewing skills, some social listening skills, or perhaps become Google Analytics certified, and even learn a new language, which is always in demand! By the way, more photo, audio and video content used every day in business presentations is growing astronomically, so boot camps and extra training in these areas would certainly be an asset (or you could just hang out with Gen Z)!
3Living Life to the Fullest.
This may mean optimizing part of your product line or service line. You can use a conjoint exercise to design the optimal products and pricing levels for your product line. This is the ideal way to develop products and pricing because it allows you to consider not only your product and family of products, but also all the competitive variables and levels of those variables. This is a very robust way to test the product line and prices and will provide you with a market-simulation tool, (a DecisionSimulator™) that will live on long after the research report is produced. You will be able to play “what if” games by selecting different scenarios (such as scenarios that include actions that might be taken by your competitors in the future) and then seeing what your best course of action is. (See Beth Horn’s Video on Pricing Strategy)
4Saving More Money/Spending Less Money.
This To the extent possible, we want to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. For example, when you are not prepared for market changes, you may find yourself playing catch up to the competition and to the market! You end up spending more money which hurts your business. You might be matching the lowest price of a competitor and giving away margin, you may find yourself running suboptimal advertising and hurting your brand, wasting precious marketing dollars, you could be selling products that are not well-liked and turning off loyal customers. So, your business and your brand need to be prepared! So:
- Do your homework.
- Listen to social media.
- Have consumer-tested, new products in your pipelines ready to introduce.
- Have advertising messaging tested for your target audience.
As you are spending money on the right new products—their introductions and their advertising—you will have confidence that the return on investment will prove that your team did the appropriate upfront research and innovation work.
5Spending More Time With Family and Friends.
There are times when even the best planned new products need further research. You should periodically spend time with the “family and friends of the brand—the customers.” You need to go in-home or on-the-job as consumers are using the products and observe and ask questions (in-home ethnography). This is the best way to see how the products are being used in the consumer’s environment. Exactly who is using them, how are they being used, with what other products, and in what conditions? How satisfied are consumers? Would they recommend the product to their friends and family? If not, what should and could you change to improve the product? Do you start the process over? The videos from this type of research are also excellent ways to communicate the product and benefits to management (which is a side benefit).
Another good idea is to spend more time with key stakeholders. This also contributes to the goal of spending less money and saving more money (i.e., efficiency). Even though there are ever-changing goals and business needs, it is important to explore and understand these goals and needs of key-stakeholders periodically and especially important at the start of an initiative. Workshops are a fantastic way to explore these issues in a group setting. This works especially well when you have a third party facilitate those discussions. It allows a forum for everyone in cross-functional teams to be in the room as priorities are decided and also makes a record of what the keys to success, challenges, and new opportunities are at that point in time. If an outside consultant leads the workshop, it also minimizes the risks of political influence. (Read Clay Dethloff's Blog on Workshops)
Travel is an important aspect in businesses with a geographical component, especially if you have retail units, restaurants or sales regions. You should get a feel for the differences in how markets appear, the strength of the competition, consumer attitudes, and the impact of geography. It is also important politically that you travel to the key market areas, even if you cannot financially afford to travel to all of the areas.
This is always a challenge. You can definitely set your goals to read more about analytics, strategy, or social influencers. You would want to set your Google news feed to keep yourself posted on all key brands in your portfolio and on your key competitors. With so many great videos, podcasts, and audiobooks, there are many different ways to keep up with the latest info.
8Dedicating More Time to an Important Cause.
It would be ideal if you could combine your personal goals and corporate goals and start volunteering a set number of hours a month. Making a difference in someone’s life is a fantastic way to bring meaning to your life. You could have others on your team with the same passions join you and it would also be a team-building effort. You never know how much that little difference will impact the world AND impact you!
I hope your 2020 is already off to a fantastic start both personally and professionally! Share a few ideas of how we can all improve in 2020. Share your ideas by commenting on LinkedIn.
About the Author
Bonnie Janzen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Executive Vice President at Decision Analyst. You may contact her at either 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.
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