Businesses often suffer from a self-awareness problem. Whether your business is like Cinderella or one of the evil stepsisters, your problem is the same. Your company self-image is inaccurate.
Let’s start with the stepsisters. In the fairy tale, despite glaring flaws, each stepsister fancied herself filled with enough charm, smarts and good looks to win over the prince – in each girl’s estimation, the only real competition she faced came from her sister.
Then there’s poor Cinderella. The king’s proclamation clearly stated that all maidens were eligible to submit an RFP for the prince’s love, but what could she possibly offer. She was too busy taking care of everyone else to make herself presentable.
Of course, every child who hears the story can plainly see all the stepsisters’ flaws and all of Cinderella’s charms. The same is true about your company for your customers and prospects.
Most businesses, however, are rarely as clearly defined as the characters in the fairy tale. In fact, most business are part Cinderella and part evil stepsister. Improving your business begins with figuring out which parts are which.
Your customers, your colleagues within the company and you already have the answers.
BUT, you and your colleagues cannot extract the answers. You and they are simply too close, too invested and too knowledgeable about the inner workings of your company to be honest and objective.
You also cannot directly ask your customers. Too many of them will temper their answers to be polite.
A skilled partner – a fairy godmother, if you will – contributes objectivity and methodology to uncover your company’s inner Cinderella and evil stepsister.
It begins with external customer research, generally qualitative, surveying a representative number and diversity of customers. Your customers know you, but they also see a broader swath of the market up and down the supply chain, including your competitors..
It includes internal exploration of what you and other employees know with an impartial moderator systematically uncovering and documenting the information.
The resulting analysis gives you a clear picture of your company and brand, a path to celebrate and promote what’s unique about it along with an outline to fix what you didn’t know or couldn’t see before.