Going Through the Hedgehog As You Plan Your Business

Dave with his beautiful wife, Rebecca

I am just thrilled today to welcome another guest columnist to our site! Dave Sattler is a Web Marketing Specialist over at Scentsy, and is part of the team responsible for their ground-breaking web presence that many party plan companies are looking at as a model for how social media is done in direct selling. The company launched its own social media presence boldly, and the result has been great success through empowering the sales force to use social media, as well as an effective corporate presence.  What I am most impressed with, with Scentsy, however, is their willingness to share what they’re doing with the rest of the industry, which helps bring everyone forward.

I had the opportunity to meet Dave for the first time when Scentsy graciously granted me an interview for this blog (an interview that was referred to over and over again at the DSA Annual Meeting last year.) You can read that interview here: Interview with Scentsy: A Direct Sales Company Using Social Media Successfully I was delighted when Dave agreed to share his thoughts with us as one of our guest columnists.

What I love about Dave’s post is that he takes you through the thinking process that is so essential when creating a social media strategy. Whenever I work with direct sellers, I emphasize how important it is to decide what your message is, as well as identifying your target market.  You must be very clear on this if you’re going to use a content marketing strategy effectively for your business.  Enjoy!

Dave Sattler

Going Through the Hedgehog As You Plan Your Business
Guest Post by Dave Sattler

There are few things that match the energy and anxiety of launching a business. How can you beat it? It’s risky, it’s competitive, it’s the “American Dream” of running your own business, it’s the potential for greatness, and the thrill of being the next “big thing”. Entrepreneurship is the Super Bowl of Capitalism.

As I look back at the different clients I’ve worked with in the very nascent stages of their businesses I’ve found that are 2 key concepts that I always draw upon for our initial conversation. Honest responses to the questions posed by these 2 key concepts will tell you if the idea passes the litmus test for feasibility as well as provide the underpinnings of what products or services you offer, your organizational structure, and my favorite, what your positioning will be from a marketing perspective. Everyone in direct sales is, in reality, a small independent business owner and can benefit from honestly answering the questions posed by these two concepts. But the “small” part won’t last for long right?! 😉

So if you want to walk yourself through these with me, grab a pen and paper and answer these questions for yourself.

The first is the hedgehog concept. The hedgehog is a natural way to begin the conversation and provides a necessary foundation for the next exercise; positioning. Another good reason to go through the hedgehog first; it’ll often tell you whether you need to dramatically rethink your business plan. At one point as I was going through the hedgehog with a client it became painfully obvious that their passions and the financial model they had created were incongruent – there was no way they would profitable without making some changes to their financial model. That may happen to you as you go through this – don’t be afraid, be glad you discovered that now!

The hedgehog answers these three questions –

  1. What are we passionate about?
  2. What can we be the best in the world at?
  3. What is the best financial model?

So with #1 you want to ask yourself what is it that you are really passionate about? Note that this question does not ask “What part of your business are you passionate about?” Gary Vaynerchuk preaches this, and I have to agree; once you identify what it is that truly drives you, what it is that you are passionate about, then it is only a matter of getting there. Personal note – keep in mind that your passion can change over time as you have more experiences; been there.

When you answer #2 don’t say customer service. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that. Now you really may be great at customer service but is that what you can be the best in the world at? Really? Be honest here and identify what you really think you can be a rock star at.

“The best answer to this question is one driven by your answer to #1 – you’ll never be the best in the world at something that is not your passion..nor will you want to be.”

On to #3. Essentially #3 asks you how you plan on monetizing what you love to do. Now that you know what drives you and that is going to drive you to be the best in the world at it –  how do you make your “pursuit of happiness” profitable? As with the other two questions, you’ve really got to face up to reality here. This stage can be the dealbreaker or dealmaker. Brutal honesty may reveal that there is no way to make your passion profitable and innovation may come into play and you’ve got a new model that is just what the market is looking for. My only hint on this one – keep the customers in mind. The landscape is littered with “innovative” financial models that bomb because, frankly, they only meet the needs of the company, not the customer.

As a result of going through the hedgehog, you can identify

  1. Organization structure
  2. Your Products/ Services
  3. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
  4. Financial feasibility

If you’ve gone through the hedgehog and you’ve got some solid answers you’re off to a great start. The mental process you’ve gone through will prove invaluable for this next part; positioning.

The position statement will allow you to:

  1. Identify where you are and would like to be on a perceptual map relative to your competitors.
  2. Identify your competitors.
  3. Generate the underpinnings of a simple, twitter-version, marketing message.

The positioning statement is this;

For…(target audience demographic and other descriptive info)

WHO NEED….(what need are satisfying? This should be related to your answer to #2 from the hedgehog)

COMPANY…(your name)

THAT….(what do you do)

UNLIKE….(competitive set)

WE PROVIDE…(what are the most relevant attributes of your product or service)

So let’s say I’m an independent consultant for a hot dog company. The below might be an example of my positioning statement;

FOR 30 year old males with older children  with 100k in HI, living in a suburban area, that enjoy watching sports at home and entertaining at home.

WHO NEEDS to have the best tasting “dogs” on the block.

MY HOTDOG COMPANY is an ultra convenient, relevant, top quality company

THAT provides convenient access to hot dog information, top quality hot dogs, and a vast library of hot dogs

UNLIKE chain retailers, local retailers, and overpriced  boutique shops

WE PROVIDE a customer focused experience with customer ratings, expert opinions, fast shipping times, the widest hot dog library in the nation, and convenient purchasing experiences.

Don’t let the hot dog thing throw you. Going through and incorporating your hedgehog into this formula will help you generate an elevator pitch for yourself and help you position yourself in the competitive landscape. This will also serve as a guide for when it comes time to begin marketing; now you know what to say and can begin to focus on how and where to say it. Another fun exercise…for another day.

As always, let me know if I can be of any help and feel free to shoot me a tweet.

Dave is a web marketing strategist with experience developing marketing analysis and strategy for companies like PetSmart, Intel (China), and MarketRx. Most of Dave’s work has been around helping consumer product companies identify word of mouth and interactive strategies to drive conversion and generate brand loyalty.

At Scentsy, Dave drives online marketing and branding strategies for Scentsy corporate as well as facilitating online evangelism by both customers and consumers through the use of social media. Dave is a sought after presenter and has entertained audiences with his casual, researched, and ROI driven presentations ranging from “Interactive Marketing Basics” to “Internet Marketing Using Google Analytics” as a University guest lecturer.

Dave earned an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management where, as a student, he was selected to join the schools external consulting team specializing in consumer goods marketing.

Dave likes to play basketball, explore new gadgets and play with his awesome family. How to connect with Dave;




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