Formulas in business work. They allow for consistency and scalability — critically important for a growth oriented company.
McDonald’s employs a team of scientists to make sure a French Fry tastes the same in Alaska as it does in Alabama. Global technology firm SAP has such a defined approach to the implementation of its software they are often derided as being inflexible.
I’ve personally seen the haunting challenges that arise from a failure to standardize. Years ago Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) worked for an innovative and entrepreneurial company called Export Software International. They customized their product to the unique needs of each customer, demonstrating an unmatched level of responsiveness.
Yet, Export Software International was soon stuck maintaining, troubleshooting and upgrading multiple versions of the same product. Customer support costs exploded and staff turnover left the company scrambling to capture critical product knowledge.
Five years ago Strategic embarked on a dramatic reinvention by shifting from a public relations focus to creating integrated content marketing and sales enablement programs for clients.
This business reset was influenced by macro changes in the market, such as the enlightened buyer, as well as a desire to align our services with revenue-related success metrics. While our work still contributes to brand awareness and credibility, we also tie closely to a client’s lead generation, nurturing, deal capture and sales intelligence metrics.
This brings us back to the issue of standardization. Candidly, we’ve had little of it in Strategic’s delivery of service while on this journey.
The alignment of content creation and social engagement with sales outcomes has been the domain of early adopters. Our projects tended to be pilot oriented and funded out of modest line items for experimental programs.
Plus, it has been an arduous period of learning with each campaign. We’ve grown smarter. We’ve added best practices. We’ve thrown out unsuccessful approaches.
Come Monday we introduce to our clients a fresh and newly developed methodology for service delivery, reporting and success measurement. My colleague Jenna Sindle (perhaps the smartest person I know) did a Herculean job during the past few months to capture and document five years of best practices.
We’ll face challenges as we roll this out. A few of our team members have expressed their desire for more flexibility. And I suspect certain clients may push us to step outside of the process and methodology to meet a specific desire.
Staying true to our proven approach is now core to Strategic. It will ensure consistent and high quality delivery of service, and enable us to appropriate scale the business.
French Fry anyone?