According to a recent article in The Economist, “strategy is basically about two things: deciding where you want your company to go, and then how you want to take it there.”
Think about the fast food franchises in your city or hometown. Most fast food companies share a similar vision of “where they want to go.” They typically operate on the core premises of capturing market share and increasing profits for the company, which ultimately benefits the shareholders.
However, the “how they want to take it there” probably differs from one fast-food place to the next. Each has its own strategy of how to achieve its vision. Sometimes one franchise is so successful, that the “how” is imitated by others. The McDonald’s Happy Meal® is a good example. Doesn’t almost every fast food outlet now have some version of the Happy Meal®? In fact, the term Happy Meal® has become a generic term used to define all similar products, like Kleenex® or Q-tips®.
Initially, the Happy Meal® was an innovative product offering that strategically and uniquely positioned McDonald’s in the fast food line-up and captured the children’s market segment. In Seth Godin’s classic book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, he notes that the key to success is to “find a way to stand out–to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins.” When the Happy Meal® was introduced it was a Purple Cow that set itself apart from competitors.
McDonald’s capitalized on a target market by understanding who the real decision makers were in many families – the kids. Think about who or what drives the decision-making process for your members. The Happy Meal®, once a Purple Cow for McDonald’s, has matured and is now featured on the menu like any other offering. What “purple cow” program does your association or chamber exclusively offer to your members?
The McDonald’s story is a great example of strategy in action. Not only can we see how it has defined “where you want to go” and “how you want to take it there,” but it is an example of using the four P’s of strategy: purpose, passion, placement, and people. Do you have all four P’s in place for your association or chamber? Is one stronger than the others? Ask your key leaders and co-workers around the table for their thoughts about the organization’s four P’s and maybe a “purple cow” will emerge.