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The Three Determinants of Business Success: Profit, Product and …

Once upon a time, a high-tech company had a game-changing piece of technology with an increasing market share. It had a few hundred talented, cohesive employees. It was privately held by VC firms and closed enough deals to earn a nice profit, enabling the VCs to keep sinking more money in R&D to keep the product ahead of the market. Yet the company still wasn’t able to take the next steps to go public or be acquired, failing to generate a return for its owners. It ultimately found itself forced to liquidate assets and do whatever else it could to generate cash, to salvage whatever it could. Employees who helped build the company and were rewarded with stock options saw the value of those options reduced to essentially nothing.

This is a hypothetical story, but it’s based on a real-world scenario I observed earlier in my career. I’m sure that if you really looked around, you’d find more stories like this than you bargained for.


In my experience, CEOs of most any kind of small to medium-sized business spend their time on two essential pursuits: building the best possible product or solution, and making the company as profitable as possible. It’s these two factors that they deem to have the most impact on their company’s ability to grow and stay viable – and ultimately go public, sell or reach some major liquidity event. It’s hard to argue with their logic, especially because the marketplace, their investors, their customers and most everyone else judges them primarily on their success in these two areas.


Yet my experience has shown that there’s a third factor just as critical to ultimate business success as those other two. C-level and other executives from the above story told me it’s the factor that held them back from achieving their full potential. And since then, it’s been the universal common thread among companies that I’ve seen reach their goals integrate – from startups to Fortune 1000 companies, B2B to B2C, public to private, tech to retail and beyond.


It’s called strategic communications.


The company in the situation above, as those executives later told me, didn’t have the right message for the right audience at the right time. Instead, the messages they did use didn’t resonate. They had a product that offered significant value, but they couldn’t express that value to a target audience in a way that compelled them to take a purchase action. Prospects didn’t feel close enough to the company emotionally, or know enough about it on the whole, to choose it over competitors. They didn’t have the right, customized mix of media and analyst relations. They also didn’t have the right content that could create demand in the market and help the sales force close deals.


There’s a common thread here: all of these are communications-based issues.


Strategic communications, to say it rather obviously, is the discipline of strategically advancing an organization to achieve its goals using communications. It ties directly to sales and marketing, and goes far, far beyond the publicity, crisis and media-driven worlds that most people associate with it. Done properly, strategic communications creates demand and drives leads. It creates an environment in which it’s easier to close deals. It makes customers and other audiences loyal to your company, and ambassadors of your brand. It makes you and your colleagues the trusted thought leaders in your industry. It helps executives make good business decisions and avoid bad ones. It generates a real, measurable ROI for businesses, and fuels growth. And much more.


I’m incredibly passionate about strategic communications, because I’ve seen it create and accelerate real value for the wide range of clients and organizations I’ve worked with through my career. I’d love to see it work for you too.


Don’t hesitate to write me at if you have any questions or would like to talk more.

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