Barriers to Entry: shedding light on the things that hold your business back

Posted by Jen Neumann on Nov 5, 2018 1:30:00 PM

This month we are revisiting the Barriers to Entry exercise—because it is a valid and honest look at how your company does business and can lead to improvements that will help you achieve your goals. 

Once upon a Hubspot Inbound Marketing Summit, I had the opportunity to listen to Dorie Clark speak, and began following her more closely.

 
One thing she espouses is the idea of not just looking at what your customer or clients like about you, but also taking a hard look at what they don't like about you.
 
de Novo developed a Barriers to Entry exercise that we use to assess opportunities for growth and expansion, and a periodic health check-up with our clients. It takes a desire to improve, a willingness to lay bare your weaknesses, and the stomach to handle some unpleasant feedback.
 
Sounds fun, right? 
 
Well, it's not as bad as it sounds and it provides you and your company with an action plan as well as focus on your communications. 
 
The Barriers to Entry exercise is simple enough. Take a long hard look at your business and ask yourself, "What do people hate about doing business with us?" Another way to phrase it is "What makes a customer or client choose another company over us?" 
 
Start with six items. Ask your staff, ask your clients/customers, and if you can, ask someone whose business you have lost. Read business reviews and social media posts and look for the legitimate complaints. Use your own existing data to determine trends and obstacles.  And ask your current AND past customers or clients the following:
 
1. What do/did you love about doing business with us?
2. What do/did you hate about doing business with us?
 
Next, categorize those items into the following:
 
1. Things you can improve or change right now.
2. Things you can apply a process to and change over time.
3. Things that are a perception versus a reality.
4. Things that cannot change.
 
Get Help Analyzing DataYour next step, after asking these questions, are what action steps you can take. Typically you have three course of action you can explore to help people do more business with your company. 
 
1. Educate: Is it a matter of your clients/customers/market being unaware of something you offer/an approach, etc? If so, then work to create a plan that addresses that missing information.
 
Example: When we work with communities on public parking issues, a common barrier to public adoption is that parking seems hard. We built the Park Like a Pro campaign with Downtown Iowa City to help ease people's perceptions and educate the public on the availability and ease of parking downtown. The campaign uses imagery and humor to break down the barrier people perceive when it comes to parallel and ramp parking, with a dose of sarcasm and was delivered in social media and communications, and through posters and collateral materials in and around downtown and beyond. 
 
2. Mitigate: Assuming that we are considering a major issue, it something you can change, and if so, what will it take? If you can mitigate the issue, how will you communicate (educate) once the problem has been addressed? 
 
Example:  Over the years, we've worked with clients to help them determine what holds business back. After working through a barrier exercise, with a client, we identified that their shifting policies and hours were causing confusion. We worked with them to help standardize and communicate their hours, their schedule and their policies, to their customers.
 
3. Eliminate: Sometimes this is the nuclear option, but when there is a barrier that is unsurmountable, it must be addressed. 
 
Example: Cart abandonment in e-commerce is one of the trickiest issues to navigate. There are lots of reasons for it, but one of the best things an online business can do is look for ways to make it simple. If you are constantly putting barriers in the way of the completion of a sale, you will ultimately turn off more customers than you gain. Eliminate everything that is unnecessary (and think hard about whether certain things are really necessary or whether you may be operating on false, old or misleading information). Work to make the process simple while still secure, and easy to complete. 
 
Once you've  done this exercise, it's time to fit these into your overall business, training and communications plan. This provides you with a blueprint for the communications that need to happen over the course of the next three, six and 12 months.
 
Like I said, it's not an easy thing to do, but it is important to get your brand in order from within, before you communicate it externally. At de Novo, business consulting goes deeper than marketing strategy. It's the internal workings of your company that make or destroy a brand that need to be laid bare and examined. We help our clients apply a process to areas that can be improved and develop the communications around the Barriers to Entry that help you recruit and retain your client/customer base. 
 
Do you feel as if your marketing strategy is holding you back? Contact us and  let us put the power of data and analysis, together with business acumen, to change how you meet your goals. 
 
Let's Talk About Barriers
 

Topics: Sales, Branding, Organizational Development

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