Episode 57: Every Leader’s Biggest Mistake | Strategic Planning w/ Mark Johnston, Part 2

Uncategorized Dec 22, 2020


In a day and age with so much competition and the constant race towards the bottom, it has never been more crucial to know your market. Have you ever been undercut by a competitor offering a similar service at a more affordable rate? Maybe you have lost a customer because you didn’t understand what the customer was truly looking for and they were able to supplant you. In part two of this three part series we dive into knowing the market and how it can help you better understand your customers needs and potential weaknesses in your competitors and yourself.


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3 Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t get so caught up in your business internals that you neglect engaging with your customer.
  2. Interacting humbly with your customer can oftentimes uncover who your biggest competitor is and how to counter them.
  3. Don’t overlook potential up-and-coming competitors who offer a less advanced product at half the price.


Show Notes:  Episode 57: Every Leader’s Biggest Mistake | Strategic Planning w/ Mark Johnston, Part 2


The biggest mistake business leaders make when deciphering the market.


  • Business leaders often fail to correctly segment the market.
  • Know what your specific customers are looking for. 
  • Don’t get so caught up in the internal business that you miss external by open dialogue with the customer.


 Mark shares about his VOC (voice of the customer) Blackbelt.


  • Voice of the customer is knowing what the customer wants and how they perceive you. 
  • Humbly dialogue with the customer on how you can improve their experience and take your game to the next level. 
  • This also gives you ample opportunity to upsell certain other products that will help them.
  • Open dialogue with your customer will help you better understand who your actual competitors are.


It wasn’t until we sat down with the decision makers at AT&T that we discovered that our real competition was an internal division where they were trying to replicate what we were doing in house. - Mark Johnston


How to effectively understand strengths and weaknesses in your competitors.


  • Public competitors are obligated to disclose their data. Study their data to better understand how they compare with your business.
  • Dialogue with your customer on why they chose you over your competitors.
  • Reach out to previous employees at your competitors to understand why they may have left.


Two major weaknesses most business owners overlook.


  • Know where you’re starting from. If you want to get to point B you need to know where you’re coming from.
  • Get to know your customers and how they perceive you. 
  • Don’t assume you understand your customer until you actually engage with them.


One of the key things that companies don’t do as well as they should is really understanding how they are perceived by their customers.


Market drivers and Market headwinds and how to understand and predict them.


  • Market drivers are a rising tide where everyone gains productively together
  • Market headwinds are something that pulls everyone’s productivity down hill.
  • Create slides on the anticipated market driver or headwind and chart out the possible positive or negative outcomes for your business.
  • Each of these possible outcomes should drive action.


This is not information for information’s sake, it’s information for intelligence’s sake. If the outcome doesn’t drive action we don’t want it on the slide. - Seth Buechley


How to know when you are not winning your customer.

  • Focus on customer response to your ups and downs first rather than your employees’ response. 
  • Analyze what you are doing well and do more of it. You can always do more of what you’re doing well.
  • Conversely spend time humbly working with your customer to determine where you can improve.


When you see a fire pour gas on it. - Peter Drucker

How to determine when the problem is with you and not the market.


  •  You can’t always control external factors in the market but you can control internal ones.
  •  You need to create a system where you can honestly access where you are strong and where you are weak.


"We like to look at internal issues as self inflicted wounds. Maybe you can’t solve external factors like COVID-19 but if you’re lacking in a certain element you can fix that." - Mark Johnston


What is the biggest risk to businesses that can be discovered in the voice of the customer?

  • Never underestimate a competitor that offers a similar service even with less features at a more affordable price.
  • A certain level of quality at a price is all a customer really cares about.
  • You have to go out and expose yourself to the reality of the market by having intentional conversations.

"Change is inevitable. Maybe there’s a competitor who does a weaker job at what you do but at half the price. If a customer thinks it’s good enough at half the price you’re going to be in trouble." - Mark Johnston

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