This post is guest blogged by Desty Edwards of Desty Online, a blog about bringing offline business practices online and turning bloggers into Businessmen.
What I’m going to share today is the actual strategic plan for a major Fortune 500 company. It is taught to all their management level employees so everyone can be on the same page and will help them understand the direction of the company. I know this because I used to work for this company from 1998 till 2003 and went through this training back in 2001. Very informative and gave a great insight into how a major multi-national corporation does business and looks at the world; the genius in the plan lies in its simple nature. It’s easy to explain and understand.
Segmentate, Concentrate, Dominate.
With some work, this corporate business strategy can be modified to fit into your own personal blogging business plan. We’re going to look at how an offline business can use this strategy and then see how it can relate to blogging.
Just for the record, I don’t think Segmentate is a real word, but it makes the phase sound better, and I didn’t come up with it.
Segmentation is mainly a planning and research phase. While Segmentate, Concentrate, Dominate is the strategy, the actual tactics are developed during the research phase. The reason why is that all areas of business are different; what would work for the automotive industry would fail in the software industry.
Take a look at the entirety of the market or business you want to enter. Look to the industry leaders. What are they doing? What are they NOT doing? What are some common practices everyone follows? Is there anything beyond branding that separates the industry; how would they fare in a Pepsi Challenge situation?
Now that you have a general feeling for the industry, narrow your focus to a part of the industry, a niche if you will. Magnify your research and planning efforts into this niche. It’s much easier to take a small step into a business than to jump in feet first; it takes fewer resources and reduces risk.
What is your blogging niche? You should know the other blogs who also compete in that niche. What are they doing from a technical and topical standpoint? For the most part, bloggers love to write about themselves and what they do. It’s part of social proofing; to show that you, the blogger, are an authority, you write about what you are doing to be so successful and how you are doing that. While it’s laughable to believe that bloggers share everything they do, they do share quite abit. Take advantage of that knowledge base.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s the same with a business industry or a blogging niche: control that area one segment at a time.
Take inventory of your own resources, financial, material, and personnel. Start putting pieces into place in order to move into the new business area. Keep ongoing operations at their current levels, but start looking to move excess resources into the new venture.
In large companies, the cross training of successful managers is a must and allows for relocation opportunities to take advantage of new openings in the new business. When replacement team members are prepared to take over current operations, the highly skilled team members can be safely moved into the new business in order to have experienced people where they are needed most.
Set-up a timeline for you blogging project. Since you are in control, you can go at your own pace. Eventually, no matter what, you’ll have to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy into your targeted niche. Plan ahead of time, be it with guest bloggers or writing excess articles and time stamping for future release; anything to get extra time to get the pieces in place for your new project. It’s best to work with an uncluttered focus.
Have you theme and templates created, tested, and ready to rock. Except for minor changes as time goes on, these forms, once in place, should never need to be changed. You may change pieces in and out, like the changing of advertisers on a heavily trafficked spot, but for the most part, everything should be put into place.
During this prep time, start writing articles. Once live, you want new visitors to have something to read so they can see exactly what you are about, and why you’re better than anything else out there. Write each article like a fashion designer creates styles for the runway; these first 10-20 articles will be all that visitors see, and you want them to be so overwhelmed that they subscribe to your RSS feed because they can’t wait to see more!
Let’s take the board game Risk as an example. If you have never played Risk, I recommend that you do! Near the end of the game, you start moving defensive pieces into offensive positions around the areas you want to take over. You have to keep 1 piece minimum in each region you control, but otherwise, you move everything else into those few regions. When the pieces are in place, you start moving all the pieces at once into 1 region at a time, completely destroying the opposing armies and dominating the battlefield.
Go time. The green light. Let slip the dogs of War!
Your research is done. Your plans are thought out and in place. Resources have been brought to bear. The time is right to strike! Seize the day!
As with all businesses, once started, this is a long-term process. Your goal is to break into, learn, prosper, and eventually dominate the small segment of the industry you have set your sights on. When looking at a time frame, you’re measuring in years, sometimes decades.
In bringing resources from your existing business into play, you can afford to subsidize the new enterprise in order to undercut your new competition! Also, one of the biggest assets you can bring over to the new business is your existing brand. People will give a new product a try just because it’s associated with a recognized and trusted brand.
Time to bring your blog live! You have your templates and theme in place. Your articles have been written, checked, double checked, and triple checked. When you go live, your marketing strategy in the first few weeks should be three fold:
- Contest: Nothing gets buzz going than a grand opening contest. One of the easiest to run and control is RSS Subscriptions via Email. If you’re using Feedburner, which you should, you’ll have the address of every email subscriber. Tailor your prize to your niche.
- Your contacts / network: You have some friendly bloggers you know and chat with. Invite them to check out your new site. Out and out ask if they would write about your new site, making sure to mention your contest.
- Paid Reviews. Nothing showers you with traffic than some pointed reviews. Since you have researched your niche, you know what type of audience you are targeting. There is a difference in audiences from a John Chow review verses a review from Andy Beard.
What If It Doesn’t Work?
Failure is to be expected and embraced! Mistakes can and will happen. It is what you learn from those mistakes that will help move the business forward. If zero mistakes are made, then as the business grows from the small initial step you’ve made, there is the likelihood that a major disaster will take place down the line when the business is larger and risk has increased. The beginning is the best time to find that small tragic flaw. When you’re pouring the foundation and setting up the frame is when you want to discover cracks or holes in the foundation, NOT when the skyscraper is already built.
Even with tons of initial buzz, sometimes a niche just isn’t ready to break into with a new blog. Reviews, paid or not, generally work best when done from within the niche itself. If you are entering an untapped niche, there just may not be very many readers waiting for you. Either your marketing didn’t reach the target audience, or you choose a poor niche. There is a chance that you have a long march towards domination…
Mission complete! Not Quite…
Years of planning and hard work have finally paid off. Your business is now the industry leader in your small niche. In the over-all scheme of things, you’re still a small fish in the market, but the public and your peers recognize you as the best at what you do. I have three words for you:
Rinse and Repeat.
Time to scope out and stake a claim to another specialized area of this new industry. You now have a foothold in the area with battle tested and experienced team members. Cross-train, bring in fresh blood, and start working on your plan:
Segmentate, Concentrate, and Dominate!