Most companies — especially startups — shift and pivot in response to dynamic business events. By the time many look up from their day-to-day grinds, they realize there’s a disconnect but can’t quite put their finger on the problem.
As outsiders, we often find that the disconnect is that their messages and positioning no longer reflect where they are, what they do, how they deliver and what clients value about them.
That’s why we recommend that clients take a moment perhaps every 18 months or so to ask themselves three questions:
- What do we do?
- Who do we do it for?
- How should we prepare for what’s next.
What do we do may seem pretty obvious. But in our experience, companies can substantially shift what they do, even if they don’t realize it. That’s certainly true of many companies during and after the pandemic. At a 30,000-foot level, what they do may be the same but when you drill down, it may be very different. As market conditions change, it’s important to look at what your organization actually does to deliver value.
It’s also important to ask “Who do we do it for?” because it’s useful to make sure you’re delivering value to those customers. A client once asked us to edit website that targeted mom-and-pop customers as well as large enterprises. The problem is that the brochure would’ve ended up alienating both segments. It’s fine to target both but probably not in one brochure. The reason: the large enterprises may think that the same technology offering couldn’t help mom-and-pops and solve an enterprise’s much more complex requirements. And mom-and-pops are going to think that if the solution is perfect for enterprise customers, it will be too complex and expensive for them. (Our recommendation was to develop two separate sections of their website so customers could self-select.)
How should we prepare for what’s next is always a challenging question. But much of business is changing, due to AI, for example, or from post-pandemic trends like remote or hybrid workers — that organizations can’t afford to stand still so they must ask themselves, their customers and partners for insights about what they’re seeing so they can try to anticipate the necessary changes.
The answers to all three questions have significant PR and marketing implications.
Please note: We’re not advocating companies to update their messages and positioning every month. On the contrary. (Once, when we asked a prospective client why three different press releases from one quarter each included different boilerplates, he said, “It shows how agile we are.” We disagreed. We thought it showed they didn’t understand the market.) But we do think it can be helpful to ask these questions every year to 18 months. If the answers continue to be the same — great. No need to do anything more.
But if not, if the answers could point you to acknowledging the changes and making sure your messages, positioning and PR and marketing are aligned and consistent with what you need them to be.