(Co-Authored by Aaron Schulman & Tim Scholten)
Framing is the first part of the 7 Part Market Beating Strategy that Visible Progress has used over the past 25+ years to help hundreds of businesses thrive… but what is framing?
Why is framing so important?
What happens to a business when framing is not part of their regular strategic planning?
For Starters, the main ingredients for any business when framing are:
-Focus / Scope
-Goals / Benchmarks / Key Initiatives
-Ideas & Opportunities
-Creative Freedom within Boundaries
We will help you Frame your business so that you always know what your daily activities should be focused on and what you should avoid, saving you countless hours of wasted time and thousands of dollars.
Some symptoms & signs that your business / team needs to master “Framing“
Your focus is NOT clear (employees don’t agree on your business priorities)
Your goals are not clear (employees don’t agree on your goals)
You are constantly looking at ideas and opportunities that don’t fit your business or are not realistic or are outside of your focus and/or goals.
You are pursuing customers that don’t fit your business (lack of clear ideal customer)
Your business values are not clear to your customers or employees
Your team experiences continual correction for misplaced creativity and productivity that doesn’t advance the whole business
After you master the skill of “Framing” at our Marketing Beating Strategy Workshop, your business will exhibit these characteristics of a thriving business:
Your business objectives become crystal clear
Your goals gain sharper focus
You know what products, services, and markets you want to pursue and not
You know your ideal customer
You know your values and what boundaries you are not willing to cross
You stop chasing ghost opportunities
Your values are clear to customers and employees
Your team experiences the greatest amount of freedom for creativity and productivity
Most businesses who do not completely frame their business and communicate that consistently with their team and audience (market) end up wasting effort, time, resources and money on the wrong initiatives and things that simply will not bring the best return, which results in slower than ideal growth and limited profitability.
However, when businesses learn to frame and reframe on a consistent basis, their efforts are far more effective and efficient and they experience more team unity, momentum, market share and profitability simply because their resources are being better utilized in the right direction and initiatives.
So to begin, when thinking of framing, think “less is more”.
In other words, when business owners go to work with their team every week and there is no real sense of a team-wide understanding of the business’s frame, everything becomes fair game.
And, when everything is fair game, too much effort, time, resources and energy is wasted chasing unrealistic goals, dreams, products and customers, and the business does not flourish like it could.
Think of framing as putting boundaries on each component of your business efforts including:
-What you will produce (and what you will not)
-Who you will accept as a customer (and who you won’t)
-Where you will target and work ( and where is “off limits” or “out of bounds”)
-What is your crystal clear marketing message
In the framing process, it is just as important to know what your business will NOT do as well as what your business WILL do.
When every component of your business is properly “framed” everyone on the team has a sense of freedom because they know with much greater clarity exactly what they are trying to accomplish and with whom.
If you were to say that your business is to target everyone, your focus would be far too wide and you would not get consistent traction because you have no real ideal client, no ideal “avatar” and therefore your internal and external marketing message would be far too vague to attract the right audience and repel the wrong audiences.
Case Study 1: Less is More for Construction Company
For example, one construction company we worked with was a small-medium sized commercial construction company and they were making bids or proposals to everyone who asked for a quote.
The biggest problem is that they were making quotes to people who they should not have been, and were missing out on much more lucrative deals because they were spending too much time, energy and resources “proposing” to too many prospects who should never have received a bid.
Every bid in the construction business requires a lot of time, expertise, manpower, and money to write an accurate bid, and every bid that should not be proposed is a complete waste of time, money and other valuable resources, including expert man-hours.
By narrowing down their target and setting the proper framing on who they would work with, what kinds of projects were ideal and which projects were too large and too small, their bids went from over 350 the previous year while struggling to break $4 million in revenue to less than 50 bids with much greater focus and quality, and their revenue broke the $25 million dollar mark the following year…
Less is more.
By making 1/7th the bids and being far more focused on who they wanted to work with, and getting crystal clear on their acceptable range and types of ideal projects, they were able to multiply their revenues by more than 6x with much less effort and wasted resources.
Case Study #2: Bank Client Frames for Growth
Another example is from a banking client that was focused on expanding through branching and acquisition. They spent countless hours reviewing opportunities that the market presented them across the entire state, yet they were a small regional bank serving 3 contiguous counties. Their growth and acquisition achievements consisted of adding only 1 new branch location over a 4 year period of time and that location was provided modest growth at best.
By framing their growth focus to jumping no more than one county away from their current locations, they were able to narrow their new location review and find high quality targets that were easy to prioritize. In addition, they were able to identify a few acquisition targets and begin building a working relationship with those target banks and proactively place themselves in the driver’s seat to acquire those banks versus needing to competitively bid for numerous deals across the entire market.
Their newly framed strategy has allowed them to successfully double in size through numerous added branch and Loan Product Office locations as two successful acquisitions. Framing helped them with strategic focus that has allowed them to grow more in the last 4 years than in their previous 50 years of existence.
The idea of framing your business is nothing new. In fact, there is a natural law in agriculture that translates to business as well…
It’s called pruning.
For example, we have a relationship with a successful vineyard and wine-maker who taught us a bit about pruning grape vines specific to wine-making. Many people believe that pruning produces MORE fruit, when in actuality, it often produces less fruit. For many years, I believed that pruning produces more fruit when in many cases, it does not. It produces less fruit.
So how could pruning be a good thing?
The size and quality and intensity of the fruit flavor is much higher in pruned vines versus those that run wild.
So much energy and resources from the air, water and soil are used up in producing too many leaves and shoots, so the vine produces more grapes, but the quality is decreased and the size of the grapes and often the clusters are smaller.
Likewise, here in Ohio, apple trees are everywhere in the countryside. If you have ever driven past a grove of apple trees that have not been maintained, you will see a lot of wild branches and a lot of apples on these trees in the late summer and fall. However, the fruit is often very small and the flavor is diluted or out of balance. On the other hand, if you properly prune apple and pear trees, you get less fruit, but the individual fruit is much larger and the taste and quality is much, much higher.
So which would people usually prefer… small, bland, tasteless apples or larger, richer, sweeter quality apples?
The same law or principle applies to business.
If you frame your business properly and do this on a regular basis, you can afford to get much higher quality projects, customers, and/or results than if you just go after anything and everything that comes your way. In some cases, especially when starting out on a shoestring, business owners have to take anything and everything that comes their way in order to keep the lights on and to gain valuable experience, but the sooner you are able to properly frame your business, the sooner you will be positioned to prune the unproductive leaves and develop larger, sweeter fruit!
While framing is one of the most important practices you can incorporate into your regular strategic planning, it is only 1 part in a bigger 7-step framework we have used to help guide hundreds of businesses to crystal clarity and higher levels of success.
The next part in our 7-step process is “Diagnose” and it is a critical step after framing, so that you know you are working to improve the most important issues that are hindering your business from growing to become the best possible version that it can be given your current resources and marketplace conditions.
If you would like us to help you get crystal clear on the next steps you should be taking to grow your business, schedule your free strategy now and we will help you get crystal clear on what you need to do for breakthrough growth and prosperity.
What happens when you don’t Frame your business strategy?
Businesses that have creative employees that lack a well Framed strategy often find their team members leveraging their creativity in unwelcomed or unneeded spaces. I call this Creative Chaos. It can be very distracting to your core focus and replace critical objectives with initiatives that are unimportant to the organization but seemingly important to that individual. When there is a lack of clarity, your team members will create their own CLEAR vision for themselves. The challenge is that it may not align with yours. Now imagine 10 team members doing the same thing. You no longer have a strategy, you are just managing through the chaos of individual priorities born of team members need for clarity.
Take the next step and schedule your free strategy session today, and we will help you with our “Frame” process to help you experience new, focused, powerful prospertiy and unity in your business.
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