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The Model

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“Marketing Success Through Differentiation — of Anything,” says Theodore Levitt, as the title of his seminal article in the Harvard Business Review in 1979. The first sentence goes on to say, “There is no such thing as a commodity.” These principles represent the heart and soul of the “See Strategy First” strategic framing methodology leading to strategic management.

Another strategy guru of the day was Kenichi Ohmae, who was heading the McKinsey Consulting offices in Tokyo, in 1988 when his article, "Getting Back to Strategy," was published in the Harvard Business Review. Two key quotes from Mr. Ohmae's vision at the time took us back to the true beginning of strategy framing...

1) Strategy isn’t beating the competition; it’s serving customers’ real needs, and
2) Remember Sun Tzu’s advice: the smartest strategy in war avoids a battle.

Hence, our See Strategy First approach should lead to marketing efforts that are anything but quiet, while concurrently...

1) Take your competition by surprise,
2) Build on your company's strengths, and
3) Attack your competitor's weaknesses.

See Strategy First™ works best when applied to the products or services (“products” used interchangeably with services throughout) of viable strategic business units (SBUs), defined by Wikipedia as, “a business unit within the overall corporate identity which is distinguishable from other business, because it serves a defined external market where management can conduct strategic planning in relation to products and markets.” Divisions within corporations often have multiple SBUs, defined by their product- market characteristics. Over-aggregating product lines up into divisions for analysis may cause false negatives to occur, that is, management may miss something. Having said that, the methodology can be employed to assess the corporate brand of a client company versus that of it identified competitors.

This strategic framing exercise enables efficient and effective development of tactics for the client company’s SBU(s), which are included in the one-page See Strategy First tool, next to the Strategy Genius™ Scorecard. The methodology represents an extension of the PIMs work by GE and Harvard in the 1960s. Several of the PIMs researchers subsequently congratulated the developer on defining a system that actually enabled their body of research to become action oriented instead of merely an academic exercise. This methodology has two decades of experience in the hands of the developer.

The three examples of the Strategy Genius Scorecard on the introduction page are pulled from real world engagements with the data modified to protect the clients’ confidentiality. Review of the Scorecard should be quickly embraced by you for its focused brevity and powerful conclusions for action.

See Strategy First seeks to clearly define a superior EndUser VALUE for your products and services versus any competition, as follows...
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Here are the critical elements of the Strategy Genius Scorecard methodology...

1) EndUser perceptions represent the key factor for success. We work with them to define what they perceive as the most important attributes of the target, i.e., why do they buy what they buy, and what is the relative weighting of those attributes in their purchasing decisions.

2) Once we have a list with weights, we have the EndUsers “score” the attributes (on a scale of 1-10), including their top 2-3 competitors. The useful result is a weighted average comparison of the key attributes by competitor. This result enables the calculation of relative product quality for use in the Value Equation.

3) Analysis of the EndUser research leads to identification of attributes that are either product oriented (Intrinsic) or marketing oriented (Extrinsic). Identifying the difference can be critical to the issue of identifying the right tactics for the client company. One should be aware that the EndUser weighting between the two typically concludes in the range of 60% importance applied to the Extrinsic attributes, with 40% applied to the Intrinsic attributes. Before we even talk to EndUsers, of course, we first run through the methodology with the SBU managers, who characteristically have the weighting reversed from the results ultimately obtained from their EndUsers.

4) Price is specifically not included as an attribute. It is, however, the denominator of the Value Equation. The Value Equation divides the relative price into the relative product quality.