Nick Powills: How to Better Understand Data and Possible Growth for Your Brand
Nick Powills: How to Better Understand Data and Possible Growth for Your Brand

If you are creating your growth strategies based on the competition, don’t.

When you shoot from the hip, you get what you get.

Remember that.

Far too often, growth goals are set based on a unicorn dataset, meaning, leadership says, “While last year, we added five locations to our system, this year we expect to add 20 with the same budget.” Poor goals set on unicorn data set up business dysfunction. When a business has dysfunction, good luck.

When it comes to data, there are several things I would recommend looking at. First, your competitive set.

If it looks like a unicorn and smells like a unicorn, it probably is a unicorn. Well, hold on a second. There are a few ways to look at a competitive landscape.

You could look at a singular offering – say a burger. Well, that brand serves a burger, therefore it is a competitor. Sure, but arguably, it’s not burgers you are competing over, it’s customers – and their pocketbooks. Wait, then everyone is a competitor. Not exactly.

When it comes to the customer’s journey, they are going to pick you based on their earned perceptions of your brand. They will earn these from their friends, from your branding, from your website, from your reviews – and then from your service, product and experience. Wow, that’s a lot.

Therefore, if brand X has different scores in each of those categories, it will eliminate the competitive set.

I believe this is why Chick-fil-A does so well. They don’t look at anyone as their competitor because they look at their scores in each of those categories and see themselves as superior. This allows them to focus on kicking butt – and not worry about the competitor. Burger King, on the other hand, seems like it is a marketing brand running scared. And when it has an awesome moment, it panics about the next. And when it makes a mistake, it panics again. I don’t see Wendy’s doing that.

In business, a B2B buyer’s decision is a little similar, but it’s tougher to overcome red flags. They will look for scores in product, leadership, investment, return, availability and validation. Far too often, brands play like Burger King rather than Chick-fil-A. Yet, when a brand ignores the competitive set, markets around their strengths and builds strong persona targeting – they win. That simple.

So, if you are creating your growth strategies based on the competition, don’t. Just don’t. Focus on you. You do you.

True Growth Strategy is Not Throwing a Dart at a Giant Dart Board. Yes, you are completely entitled to saying you want to add 20 locations this year when last year you did 10 with the same budget. Yes, you are perfectly justified in saying you want to increase same-store-sales by 10 percent. But entitled and justified don’t help you win the game.

In my opinion, there are a few things you need in order to win the growth game (and then, review the data).

First, you need a killer team. Killer teams with false expectations are killed. It’s the truth. Thus, your conclusions on growth need to be based on data.

In our business, No Limit Agency, I can give you an easy example of this. For years, I have asked the media relations team to shoot for 50 interviews/month. For years, others have argued with me that this number is too high. But those arguments were unicorns, not data based.

We once did hour tracking. What the tracking showed us was that on average, our agency booked one interview per hour pitched. And remember, in hour tracking, there is probably a degree of false reporting – as the time into something may be inflated, and the numbers may be better. The way we positioned our team, in order to truly win on behalf of our clients, was that media relations employees would spend 20 hours/week pitching the media and developing relationships.

Data would suggest that as an optimal approach to book what would net 20 interviews/week, 80/month. My ask was for 50, as a KPI.

Yet, month after month, the numbers would fall short for the majority of the team.

Naturally, the suggestion would be that they were not spending the time pitching. With the removal of hour tracking, the only data was perception of time on the phone and outbound emails.

Thus, frustration rose.

Then, years later and hundreds of hours of trying to perfect this dataset, we figured it out. Yes, there was a degree of people not doing the work, however, that wasn’t the only dataset that was important. The bigger variable was happiness and team mentality. The math equation was much greater than just the effort.

So, we cleaned house in December.

And then in January, we had someone book 80+ interviews, 70+ interviews and 60+ interviews. They were happy. We were happy. They were doing what we asked – and not staying late into the night.

While my asks were data-based, the truth was, there was another significant part of the equation – team morale (and, perhaps, true hour tracking from stronger data). If it was down, the results would not come.

When you are setting your growth goals, think about this. How do you encourage happiness as a part of the work? That secret formula will help you win.

Yes, you certainly need the data to support your ask. Double the deals, double the budget – but don’t overlook the strength of product, leadership, investment, ROI, availability and validation. Those are all table stakes to being the Chick-fil-A and not the Burger King.