Hello, everyone. Back in October 2019, I recorded a podcast episode. Episode 107: How to Cultivate and Expand Your Strategic Thinking. What I want to do today is to share with you an example of what I did with a client to help her explore more ideas to expand her team’s charter and scope which is one way to help her think differently and drive a strategic conversation with VP of her group.
So let’s do a quick review in terms of what I shared with you in EP 107 on how to cultivate strategic thinking.
There are a couple of things I mentioned – 3 points if you will.
- Think from the perspective of “why and what,” not “how.” Explain that to your management well before you go into details.
- Communicate in a way that senior managers can understand. So obviously senior managers care about costs and efficiencies. Or they care about success metrics. So whatever you discuss you need to tie with that so that they can understand how you make an impact on their metrics.
- Help senior management connect the dots. Especially in the digital world, all the back end, or technology are inter-related. For many traditional sales and marketing managers, they didn’t grow up with digital natively. It’s very hard for them to understand how the back end is connected and you need to explain it in a way that they can understand and help them connect the dots.
Now, here is an example I worked on with my client.
She is a director of content for a large SaaS-based service platform company. Even though she is a director of content, she doesn’t really focus on content marketing within the agency, she more focuses on providing content marketing training and workshop for customers. So it’s kind of like a post-sales, contract fulfillment type of things that a lot of their customers when they sign a contract with this specific company, part of the contract, is for the company to provide content marketing trainings and workshops for these customers. So her team is basically trying to fulfil that contract commitment.
Her manager constantly asks her how to scale without increasing her team’s headcount. She is struggling to come up with some ideas to drive the conversation with her management.
After several conversations, here is what I suggested to her to do:
Option 1: (This is probably the pie in the sky)
She can productize her workshop offering as a profit center. At this time she’s a cost center. And what if she can standardize some of her workshop offerings and make that a paid program? So she can standardize a package and make it a certification program—she can certify facilitators and then it’s a train-the-trainer approach. Because she has a proven methodology why don’t we turn that into some type of certification program? It could be a 3-day workshop to be certified trainer and then those trainers can actually train or provide the workshop for their own companies. So it’s a pay program.
So I mentioned that to her and she was like, “oh, that’s kind of interesting,” I told her she doesn’t have to take a big initiative initially. What she can do is take a small step: I told her that she doesn’t need to start big on this. Start with a discovery project. Define the types of workshops that can be customized or standardized. Then she can publish a recommendation to determine if it’s feasible to create a certification program or identify the types of workshops that can be standardized. Because once you standardize, your team can do more workshops to actually support more accounts.
Option 2: Continue to be a value-add part of contract agreements, but scale fast and furiously.
What I am trying to say is look into workshops she’s already done. And I mentioned about the standardized package. She can have her team act as a coach to work with these trainers. So the team doesn’t have to do a lot of workshops, but have the teamwork as a coach on the sideline and work with the trainer so the trainers can do the workshop on their own for their companies.
Basically, this can help your team scale to support more accounts. It’s a slightly different business model than option 1.
Option 3: Outsourcing.
So her team is currently at full capacity and I recommended outsourcing some of the workshops to trained and experienced facilitators. And also use existing materials that she uses to train new hires to train these contracted facilitators or agency so she doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
She took my suggestions and made that part of the annual planning discussion. According to her, the chances of turning her team into a profit center is pretty slim, but she wants to mention to her management to continue to think about how she can morph and expand her offering and also her team’s capabilities. However, the outsourcing model is certainly a great option to expand her team’s to support more accounts.
I work closely with multiple clients to help them on their marketing plans and identify potential areas that their groups can expand to get additional headcount and budget. If this is something where you need help, please reach out.
For the time being, be well and let’s connect again next week. Take care!
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