Strategic Planning for Growth – Know What Decision Makers Want

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At Sound Press, we sure get a lot of projects brought our way. Some are brought by CEOs and Presidents, but a lot of projects are brought by Commercial Officers, CMOs, COOs, Marketing Directors, Sales Directors, Sales Staff, and front line team members. But what projects get the green light? What projects get funded?

Well, that answer goes back to another two questions. Who is or who are the Decision Makers, and what do they want?

This is geared towards people that have projects and ideas to engage with us, that can grow the company in some regard. We do often end up collaborating with our clients to get the green light from the company.

There absolutely can be the “selling” of a project to company leadership and even boards. But it sure is important to know who the decision-makers are. At Sound Press, we really try to understand and know who those people are, because it can be absolutely frustrating to build a plan, show the efficacy and the financial model for success, and then have it shot down by someone who is the decision maker that was not involved in the process.

The first main piece of advice is to work with the decision-maker whenever possible. At Sound Press, we rarely go too far without some level of engagement with a decision-maker, and that is purposeful. We cannot build something in a barn away from the eyes of a decision maker, who then might swoop in and offer an option that is a yea or nay decision. That’s not fair to the hard-working people who deliver the product, nor is it fair to the company as a matter of financial investment to not have the decision maker involved in something worth spending money on.

The second main piece of advice is to know what the decision-makers want. Some decision-makers are 100% budget driven. And this better be followed. When getting funding for a project, the last thing you want is to “go back to the well” asking for more funding for some scope creep. It can happen, but often those ideas are simply saved for a later time.

So find out who the decision-makers are, find out what they want, stick to the budget as best as possible, and engage with the decision-makers as is appropriate at various stages along the way. Avoid surprises or changes in direction with good communication and feedback. We all want to sleep well at night and reduce stress, so try to eliminate the unknowns and keep a project or initiative successfully on track out of the gate.

What Manufacturers Are Doing Right

Planning For the Future

Manufacturing companies are amazing! Think of all the products we all use and enjoy. Even the design and engineering of products is incredible to actually study. In recently watching a documentary about Spaulding inventing the ball for the sport of basketball, it was interesting to see all the risk and reward and trial and error that went into getting that right, even down to creating the stippling on the leather ball so it wouldn’t be slippery. The documentary went on to talk about Rawlings and the baseball glove, Gillette and Schick with the razors. Progress with manufacturers doesn’t always happen quickly, but nothing is going to happen if the future is not planned for.

Automotive and Heavy Duty aftermarket and OEM manufacturers must plan for the future. Just like this blog article is not being written on a typewriter, so as times change, manufacturers need to be looking ahead at what’s coming next. There are a few aspects of planning for the future to cover but this article will focus on Products and Market Conditions.

Products – business folks might remember the old Boston Consulting four box grid with these four quadrants:

  • Existing Products in Existing Markets
  • Existing Products in New Markets
  • New Products in Existing Markets
  • New Products in New Markets

In the automotive aftermarket, knowing what the plan is for products and markets is paramount for success. It would be pedantic to belabor this point, but, please don’t make stuff that people don’t need or want anymore. Understand where your products fit in the current needs and trends. Know where you fall price to quality wise in the market. If you see a new market coming forth, such as alternative fuel vehicles, look ahead to what may be needed.

Market Conditions – In the aforementioned documentary, they showed how the Proctor and Gamble folks were a candle manufacturing company before they switched to soap, and rather discovered how to make a soap that floated. A lot of societal conditions were coming together for more hygiene focus, and their timing was perfect. Automotive and Heavy Duty aftermarket and original equipment manufacturers have this same challenge of knowing what the market is demanding now, and what the market will demand in the future. Take a look at the true vehicle stats, VIO Vehicles in Operation, the rise of EV and alternative fuel vehicles, but look at the true numbers because there can be a lot of noise in EV as infrastructure to support new EV vehicles is still being developed. Autocare is a great source for that information.

Plan for the future by not resting on your laurels with product wins, study the marketplace, use that still-true products and markets grid, get the right forecasting data to know where to innovate and produce, and make your growth pathway sound and strong.