Squirrel Marketing Episode 4 – Strategic Planning

Join marketing guru William “Bill” Bronson and successful sports podcaster Jeffrey Cooperstein as they dive deep into the world of marketing and chase squirrels in all directions.

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All right, this is Bill Bronson and my trusty sidekick, Jeffrey Cooperstein. Hello. And this is squirrel marketing. Well, um, so today, you know, I was listening to our last three episodes and I wanted to say I didn’t listen to them initially, I was too apprehensive. Yeah, like, I don’t want to listen to myself. Well, I really enjoyed listening because in order to prepare for this one, I listened to the last one. Yeah. So we could kind of help those who might listen in succession. We’re going on some kind of track. Yeah, exactly. Or at least some kind of thought process. There’s some squirrels in between like you know, the haunted house, but Oh, squirrel. Todd James, a good friend of mine who owns the Cutting Edge Haunted House on Lancaster in Fort Worth, bought this place way out in Terrell, TX called Thrillvania or something. It’s past Dallas to the east. Yeah, terrible I should know this. And anyway, so he bought that. And that is a traditional haunted park with three houses on like 50 acres, super nice like everything Todd does. And they have the woods and all that. So all traditional, but cutting edge is like a nightclub.

Anyway, so I was listening to our other pod and it was talking about action planning and remember the acronym smart? Yeah. Specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and time-bound.

Anyway. So I started thinking about the next little piece of an action plan, which is strategic planning.

So strategic planning is part of the action plan. And it’s kind of where you think more strategically about your role in this whole thing called business. What’s your role? What are you going to offer?

What is the businesses role in what they want to offer the world. And this is something that that I was going to talk about anyway, which is competitive advantage. So when talking about strategic planning, you also need to consider your competitive advantage. And for instance Walmart, okay. When Walmart got involved, there were already some things going on. For instance, Kmart, and Sears. And Walmart, didn’t want to really compete with them. So they’re, first of all, their strategy their strategic planning, gave them the idea to focus on small town America, so they would only focus on towns with under 5000 people.

And because Sam Walton was a tightwad, so much so that his executives when they came in town,

would stay two or more to a room and stay at budget motels. And they had to drive places he wouldn’t fly them around. really. So even regional managers I guess, up until the kids took over, the regional managers wouldn’t fly. They would have to drive to the stores to look at the stores. He would fly over

in his little plane or whatever. And look at the parking lot and see how full it was and check to see if the managers were there. Yeah and on the ground he didn’t even have a freakin driver. He would drive his old pickup, and just go to the stores and look at the parking lots and see if they were full or not. And, you know, that’s crazy, very frugal. And that’s how he was able to make it. That carried over into every aspect of Walmart. Every aspect was cheap. Everything was done as if he didn’t have a dime to his name. And it was a shoestring budget. He spent money but was very frugal.

And now a couple things with that. First of all, he was able to make it successful in markets with under 5000 people, which gave them a foothold and allow them to grow. Not large but solid. So they didn’t grow very fast like that. But they established a name recognition and in rural America, arguably is America, because that’s the backbone. Those are the people who grow and farm what you eat and, you know, they fix the cars that you drive and they build the trucks that deliver the food. So I mean, it’s really the backbone. So anyway, Walmart gained a foothold.

And there, they had two things. One was they could make it in a market that was smaller than the other guys could make it in. Because I think Kmart, their minimum requirement to go into an area was 25,000 or something.

Actually, this will squirrel a little but Sam Walton’s wife would refuse to live in a town with more than five or 10,000 people. She wouldn’t live in a big town, so he had to focus on small ones because she refused to live in the big ones.

But that but the thing with Walmart, too, is like, yeah, it’s a great place, you can get every single thing you would ever need at Walmart. But it destroyed small businesses.

Yeah, yeah. Well, you’re right. And the department store was the beginning of that.

Because before then, it was a clothing store. It was a sporting goods store. It was a grocery store. And now they’re mixing it all together. And you can’t count on anything. And it’s, that’s the same thing I don’t like about trying to integrate everything.

Like neighborhoods. Why are you going to forcibly put one group of people in a neighborhood that was created without them? Yeah.

For instance, I don’t know like little China or whatever, or a little Mexico or all these places where the town is the culture, these people came from a country. And they recreated their country here as a little miniature pocket. And it should be celebrated. You should be able to go there and experience that person’s culture and appreciate their culture. Why do you want to turn them into a bunch of just Mish mosh? I don’t understand. That’s goofy.

People are different. And we should celebrate differences.

Not use them as a punch line. Great. Absolutely.

But anyway, Walmart, they had two things. One was, like I said, operating and being successful in a small town. But they were the first to open up innovation in their supply chain.

So Walmart, I think they got their first big warehouse. And for a tightwad, like Sam, I mean, a million dollars for a warehouse had to be a hard check to write.

But innovation was necessary. So they innovated to the point where their business model or their actual their supply chain management, they would have trucks come in to bring the goods for stores on one side, and they would immediately be unloaded and loaded back onto other trucks go into stores on the other side.

So they innovated this process to where nothing ever stayed in the warehouse long, right? It was just a place to exchange. So it was a depot. It was not a warehouse, really. So he paid a million dollars to not even have anything in the warehouse. Exactly. So it but they got very good at making sure that nothing was stale. Nothing ever stayed long. Enough for the new model to come out. It was always pushed out, always pushed down. And to study this is kind of the precursor to Amazon. Because Amazon has arguably the most advanced supply chain. I mean, ever. They’re ridiculous man, you can get any item in the world you want at your door less than 24 hours. Well, they’re warehousing. They also innovated the shared warehousing model, where if they don’t have a warehouse in the area, they will partner with one. And I don’t know how the computer system tracks all that crap because I know from my very, very brief experience in customer service is called a dropship or whatever. And they have a contract with that warehouse. So when someone puts in an order, if it’s a dropship item, it’ll go directly into that warehouse.

Yeah, and as a side note, on my way to work, I pass this area where they’re building these enormous warehouse depots.

They’re enormous. And it’s right there. Where, where Amazon and FedEx and all these people are. Yeah, right over there in Coppell and Carrollton? Well, no, this is over here, but they’re probably doing it everywhere. Okay. and so I found out that these businesses, there are guys who will buy land and build a warehouse, and they don’t have a business. Yeah, they’ll buy it, build a warehouse, and then contract with Amazon. Yeah, that’s their business model. And all they do is facilitate.

And so yeah, it’s crazy. But so back to strategic planning, and innovation.

You know, you can take a lesson from Walmart, because they needed to be different. And so while they had a similar business model, they were a similar type of place to Kmart, let’s say.

But they innovated a little bit to the point where they had a competitive advantage. And they focused on a different part of the market initially, which helped them gain that foothold. So in business, you don’t want to necessarily take your competition on head to head. Especially if you’re the new one.

You could probably take someone on head to head if they’re the new one, and you have the foothold, you just want to be different. You want to be different in some way, something needs to be different. For instance, you don’t want to enter the market for let’s say, a Tree Service, that’s known for being the low cost leader, and then compete with them on cost.

You wash all the cars that are in the driveway, before you leave. I don’t know, I mean, so to be different if you’re trying to compete with a low cost leader, but providing a better quality service at maybe a higher price point. Would that be a way to do that? Yeah, absolutely. That’s the that’s the go to way Yeah.

Because you’re either gonna compete on cost, or you’re going to compete on quality.

Or you’re going to compete on speed. So you might be more expensive, but you’re really fast. Or you might be expensive, but you’re really fast, and do great quality work.

So I have this triangle printed out in my office, that it’s It was a joke. It’s like a punch line in my office that shows it’s, it’s a triangle. And on the three points, it says, Good, fast and cheap, on the three different points of the triangle. So good, fast and cheap. And the point is, you can have to pick the two.

Because if it’s good and fast, it ain’t gonna be cheap, right? If it’s good and cheap, it ain’t gonna be fast, right? You can’t do all three. What if it’s cheap and fast? It’s cheap and fast it’s not gonna be good. The quality is not gonna be there. It just won’t. Yeah. And so, like the dollar store crap, it’s cheap. It’s fast. It’s not gonna last long.

What sucks is when it’s expensive, and slow. And then you notice it’s got bad quality, too, because the owners have taken all the profit. They’re not putting it into the product. But anyway, so yeah, so you have to pick something that’s unique. And you can get really crazy with unique. You know, it doesn’t have to be endless possibilities. Yeah, yeah, it doesn’t have to be the go to like you were saying better quality. It can be something off the wall like you wash all their cars before you leave.

And I mentioned that because squirrel marketing is is also a metaphor for your business. Because when you’re marketing for your business, you can take your marketing plan off on a crazy tangent.

And sometimes that’s all it takes for you to have a competitive advantage is to be different. To be known for something off the wall.

So you can have a squirrel in your own marketing.

And that’s perfectly okay. I remember when I was a kid, there was a rug service or carpet cleaning service. And while they were cleaning your carpets, they would rake or mow your yard. I mean, it was kind of weird.

Yeah, I mean, but they were trying, right. Yeah, I guess I didn’t do it for long, I don’t think right. But I guess that’s a way to, you know, get your name out there and show that, you know, you’re serious in this. In this. What’s it called? sector? Yeah, well, I think they, it was a small deal. It wasn’t the big, big name deal. But I think maybe they involve their kids in the business. And they got their kids raking leaves and mowing yards. And I said, Okay, tell you what, if, if you let us clean your whole house, we’ll do your yard for free.

And so the kids would come in and do the yard and then the business would pay them right? for being a partner in the deal. Yeah, helping them with their gimmick. And that’s what it is, it’s a gimmick. So you can have a gimmick.

But you need to also have a core plan that’s a little bit different than your competition.

And so, let’s go to the next segment of this, really, because I think we’d beat this one to death.

I love case studies, first of all, because if you can analyze the past, you can learn from it. And then that shapes your future. If you don’t study the past, you could repeat the best and sometimes it’s not good, right?

But Fujitsu was pretty interesting. They developed the first computer in Japan, that people could use. And that’s an old company from the 30s. And so Fujitsu Japanese electronics company.

They were the first to innovate their business model, and involve other stakeholders in their planning.

So, okay, so let me explain that your company, let’s say you are your company, you have everything to say about your strategic plan. And you don’t involve anybody else in it, because it’s your company and you do what you want, right? Well, that’s the traditional way of doing it. And it was that way for a long, long time, in fact, was almost the downfall of Harley Davidson. When Honda came in with their little 50, cc motorcycle, they almost put Harley Davidson out of business. And there’s reasons why they didn’t because Harley was an icon and a symbol of American individualism and everything but so Fujitsu involved, their customers, their distributors, their suppliers.

They’re all their supply chain, participants, their employees, the general public, they involved all stakeholders in their strategic plan, which is probably a good idea. And for that, well, for two things. First of all, in Japanese society, it never happens. Yeah. Or it didn’t.

So it was completely innovative in that geographically, but it was also completely innovative in the world. Because the companies felt like they knew everything the consumer didn’t know anything. They only wanted the consumers business to buy their product, they didn’t want them affecting their business. They didn’t want change, nothing. Well, Fujitsu kind of flipped all that around and innovated and it now it shapes every part of that company. They have these, think tanks these What do you call it?

What do you call that? You have lecture and then you have lab so these labs. So Fujitsu now has all these labs where people can come in and innovate and brainstorm and think off the wall and shape the company’s future. That’s a great idea. Well, now all the big companies do it. Apple does it. IBM does it. IBM almost went under. Yeah.

Thanks, Bill Gates, shout out.

But a hashtag evil.

But anyway, so yeah, Fujitsu is awesome with that. Harley Davidson, by the way, just to finish that thought Harley Davidson.

They thought they knew everything. And they didn’t worry about Honda, they didn’t think Honda was anything had any, like bearing on their future. Now, when you’re trying to build a business like this, is it important to know your competitor? Know what they do know what they don’t do? Well? Well, that’s that goes back to the beginning of times as spies. Yeah. You got to know your competitor, you’ve got to know. It’s the whole thing with the CIA. Yeah. I mean, seriously, and the KGB? And it’s the same thing in business Really? Right. Yeah. But you have two ways ago, maybe not at that level, you have an inside job, right? No, no silencers, but you don’t need silencers. But I would say that you’ve got to study your competition. In order to know what you want to do and not do with your future of your company, you got to know what’s going on.

You can’t build a business in a vacuum, you know. And so if you’re kind of in the dark, and you don’t want to, you don’t want to bother with that. You could go down a road based on your own brain. And you might find that that road is the wrong one, because this innovation over here. So you’ve got to know your competition, but it depends on what you’re doing. If you’re a drycleaners. It may not be as big a deal. Unless they come out with some new technology that your competitor starts using. And you have no clue. Yeah.

So So yeah, I think I think that the point of this, this episode really is you’ve got to spend the time and money and energy. And you’ve got to involve stakeholders, all stakeholders, and those are not people walking around holding your steak. Stakeholders are anyone involved, anyone who benefits from or is affected by your business. A stakeholder could be the general public, let’s say, if you’re a gas station, stakeholders for you would be the people in your area, the people who pass through the people who supply the gas to you, the people who maintain your pumps, the beat, all your employees, all those and your investors.

You consider all those stakeholder, they’re all stakeholders because they are all affected by the business. So when you involve all stakeholders, in your company planning, and you surveyed your suppliers, you survey your vendors, you survey your employees, you, have safe ways for them to express their opinion about you.

And what’s working and not working so that they don’t fear retaliation, right.

Some companies, if you speak about somebody, you’re gone, you know, and that’s stupid, because how are you going to grow and make positive changes, if you don’t listen?

You know, if somebody says it’s too cold, you turn the air down. If somebody is too hot, you turn the air up, I mean, what’s the big deal. So you have to you have to change with the times to the point where you’re at least attempting to progress and make things better for you and for your stakeholders.

So a company’s not just the owner. It’s everyone who’s involved and everyone who’s affected by it.

And the good thing is that it’s never a waste of time or money, to engage your stakeholders to sit down and plan and to brainstorm with people that you trust and make an actual good, solid plan to get from point A to point B. You will never miss that money.

It’s always a good idea. And way too often companies don’t listen to all stakeholders. They just look in the mirror and think they’re the ones who know everything. And then they’ll know fairly well not necessarily they could fail or they could just creep along or I guess in a In a crazy upheaval infested world, they, they could be wildly successful, but still, it’s not as successful as they could be right?

If they embraced the the power of the stakeholder inclusion, so.

So yeah, that’s just an incredible type of thing to do. It’s like being introspective. I mean, if you never look at yourself, you never analyze yourself at all. And you just exist. Then how do you know whether you’re progressing or not? Yeah. All right. Well, that’s kind of the time we’ve got now. I think it’s coming up on half the half hour.

See you next week.

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