Business Strategy Always Begins With These Two Questions

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I can't begin to count the number of presentations from sales people that begin with headlines like "This is who we are", "This is what we do", "These are our products and services" or "This is what makes us unique".  What is worse is that marketers and business strategists sometimes start their conversations in this way as well.  They should know better.  All business strategy starts with the same two questions - and they should make no mention of the company or its products or its people!

If you start a business strategy conversation with the customer top of mind you have a much better chance of creating a powerful and successful business strategy.  The two questions are quite simple but their simplicity also reveals a gold mine of information in the answer that will help you arrive at a great go-to-market strategy outcome much quicker.

1. Who Is The Customer?

The reason it is the first question in every business discussion is that without a customer or target market any further discussion is not useful.  The answer helps identify which part of the market will not be targeted.  This leads to business focus and helps prevent wasted effort and investment.

2. What Does The Customer Value?

This is a great question to follow the first because it demonstrates whether the business knows what their customer values.  If the answer is not known then a strategy can be put in place to find out.  If the answers are known then the next steps depend on whether this is evidence-based, an informed guess based on experience or, worse, an uninformed guess.  The less evidence there is for the answer the more risk there is that the strategy created may not succeed.

The business can then focus on developing a go-to-market strategy that delivers value to the customer. No more, no less.  If you deliver more it may not be valued and your costs escalate and there may be wastage.  If you deliver less your solution or service may not be competitive and you will not grow or be profitable.

We have to understand what customers value and deliver compelling and differentiated value. But we can’t deliver more – it’s meaningless, the customer doesn’t want it, it adds complexity, confusion, and cost.  That is why our two critical questions are so important to any business strategy discussion.  

What do you think?  Have you found the answers to these two questions valuable in your business?


Chris Pattas

Chris Pattas lives in beautiful Melbourne, Australia. He is happily married with two children. Chris is a successful business leader who enjoys helping organisations reach their full potential. Whether it is driving greater profit or sales, growing market share in competitive industries, inspiring executives to achieve great things, negotiating compelling business deals or working as a board member implementing exciting change programs, he knows how to get the most out of any organisation. Chris has worked in various product and service industries including: advertising, software, IT&T, travel & tourism, utilities and telecommunications. His interests and expertise include: leadership & strategy, sales & marketing, online & social media, science & technology, travel & tourism, photography and music.