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Enterprise behavior: Product strategy for small businesses

December 13, 2016

Learn more about the processes, initiatives and habits of enterprise businesses, and how you can adapt those processes to help your small or medium business run better.

If you’re the proprietor of a bar or restaurant, you know you have a million things to juggle on any given day: inventory, staff, front and back of house. But amid all that chaos, you never take your focus off your products and service—and what they mean to your customers. Like right now, chances are you can easily name your top selling product. Go on—say it out loud. See how easy that was? Now, think about your strategy for using that product to grow your business. Might not come as easy. And that’s why you’re reading this article. Our goal here is to define the purpose of product strategy and highlight several different ways you can use it to improve your product offerings and help you craft more relevant marketing messages.

So, what is product strategy? In short, it’s creating or offering new products, or repackaging existing products, to better appeal to existing/new customers. In simpler terms, it’s taking your number one go-to (app, entrée, dessert, whatever), and finding a new angle to help it become even more attractive to your target audience. As you explore your product strategy, it’s important to keep an eye on your competitors and consumers. Why? Because your competitors are more than likely doing all they can via product strategy as well. And your customers’ response is the best way to tell if your evolved product strategy is working. They’re very vocal about change, whether good or bad.

According to Chron.com, there are three ways to approach product strategy, with each listed approach requiring a more aggressive attitude. As with anything business related, one size does not fit all. It’s important for you to take a deep dive into these approaches to find the one that works best for you, your customers and your goals.

Product modification

As the name implies, this strategy starts with an existing product and involves looking at ways to evolve it. Think of the “new and improved” formulas you see for foodstuffs all the time. For your restaurant, this may entail taking a product like chicken wings and finding an enhanced way to present them so as to continue to please existing fans of the dish while possibly capturing new users as well.

Product diversification

This is the proverbial practice of embracing new horizons. The focus here is on moving beyond your existing menu in an effort to develop a new product for a new market. McDonald’s is a master of this approach, trying everything from offering pizza to lobster rolls to complement their stalwart burger and fries menu. For you, this could mean adding a Mexican dish to an American menu or something similar. Again, just consider what would resonate most with your customers.

Read more: Marketing & Promotions tips and tactics

Revolutionary Product Development

As we mentioned earlier, this strategy requires the most aggressive attitude because it’s all about thinking outside of the box. Revolutionary products are those that fulfill a never before met need. Lay’s is a great example of this. They have a wildly popular stable of potato chips, but they’re constantly innovating new flavor profiles for their chips, and then actively marketing them and soliciting consumer feedback about the most popular. It has the potential to be a very successful roadmap for you to follow.

In closing, it’s clear that tapping insights is the way to help merchants like yourself implement these strategies. In order to maximize your product strategy, it’s imperative for you to glean insights from many different aspects of your restaurant, from your top-selling products to purchasing patterns of your VIP customers and more. Whatever path you choose, know that we’re here to support you in implementing your preferred product strategy going forward.

[image: Table for Two – Chat Thai, Haymarket by Alpha on flickr]