Aligning for Growth

Sometimes market conditions change, sometimes you have to change the market conditions. Regardless of which form of market transformation you face, successful navigation through choppy waters requires alignment. That’s a broad term, so what do I mean by ‘alignment.’ 

In one sense, alignment is a go-to-market term. Alignment of tactics and message across all touch points. Making sure your point-of-sale programs are aligned with your online efforts. Making sure your email campaign syncs up with your Groupon programs. Making sure price points and product assortments are optimized across all platforms. Tactical alignment is critical, but that can fall apart if there is not alignment of mindset. 

Mindset alignment means those developing the strategy and isolating the opportunity fully grasp the reality. It also means those on the front line (sales) can accurately explain the needs of the market. The more you align mindset, the better the chances for success. Those that are truly aligned and share the same vision can adjust to unforeseen situations with near flawless clairvoyance. 

In business, going against a large player with a traditional approach is a recipe for disaster. You’re walking right into their trap as they are massive and built their success on size and scale. That doesn’t mean they cannot be beat! To win, you must commit to a changed approach and align to it.   

In our experience, smaller players have a real opportunity as their business model is not predicated on massive in-store traffic. Buyers have not stopped buying. On the contrary, they’re buying more than ever. It’s just that they’ve changed their buying patterns to include a healthy dose of online. The mega retailers are too committed to their historic approach to adjust. Much like an aircraft carrier; it takes a long time to turn. 

Speaking of naval history, the Battle of Trafalgar is a great example of aligning to a new strategy against a much larger opponent. That battle pitted an outnumbered British fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson against the combined French and Spanish armada. Rather than line up and blast away at each other (where success always went to the larger fleet during this battle of attrition), Lord Nelson saw an opportunity to change market conditions. He explained his plan to his supporting captains, who then implemented the tactics that forever changed naval warfare.   

Lord Nelson split his battle ships into two parallel lines and T-boned their opponents in two spots, breaking their ranks and leaving them open to their soft spots. In the end, Lord Nelson sunk or captured 19 enemy ships and lost none and over 13,000 enemy sailors were killed or injured compared to 1,500 for the Royal Navy. This battle forever sealed Britain’s naval superiority and protected the homeland from imminent invasion from Napoleon.

Sometimes conditions change. Sometimes you have to change the conditions. To win in either scenario, alignment of mindset is the first condition that must change.