Adaptation as a Key Business Strategy

Last month, I attended the University of Tampa Board of Fellows Business Network Symposium. The quarterly symposium recognizes well-known businesses in the Bay area and places business leaders in the spotlight to share their accomplishments and strategies.

One of the symposium’s keynote speakers was Mark Gordon, CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration.  The Odyssey team uses state-of-the-art technology to discover deep sea shipwrecks with significant amounts of valuable metal commodities on board. They are perhaps most famous for the 2011 recovery of the SS Gairsoppa, a British steam merchant ship which sank in 1941 after an attack by a German U-boat. Odyssey recovered 110 tons of Spanish silver bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, setting a world record for the heaviest and deepest recovery of valuable cargo ever performed on a shipwreck site.

In life and in business learning to adapt is key. What should have been a multi-million dollar gain for his company ended up being a $1.2 million loss. Why? The company was fined by the U.S district court after a lengthy legal battle, which also resulted in Odyssey having to return the bullion to Spain in 2012–despite having legally obtained it during the expedition.

In the aftermath of a ruling that should have sank the company, Gordon decided to challenge himself and his colleagues to adapt. Recognizing the risk of focusing solely on recovering shipwrecks, Gordon pivoted his business to include a new focus: the profitable recovery of deep sea minerals used in science and technology.

In addition to spending time in the depths below, Gordon is helping other business owners stay afloat of challenges by offering advice on how to adapt in the face of setbacks. Does your organization need a business adaptation strategy? According to Mark Gordon, here are the 4 things you need to do:

Understand your competencies

At the very core, your competencies are what differentiate your organization from your competition. It’s only natural to want to list your organization’s entire range of strengths, but according to business experts and authors of “The Core Competence of the Corporation,” Gary Hamel and C.K Prahalad, there are three tests to determine whether your strengths are your true core competencies:

Relevance – Your competence must give your customer something that strongly influences him or her to choose your product or service. If it does not, then it is not a core competence and it has no effect on your competitive position.

Difficulty of imitation – Your core competence should be difficult to imitate. This allows you to provide products that are better than those of your competition. And because you’re continually working to improve these skills, this means you can sustain a competitive position.

Breadth of application – It should open up plenty of potential markets. If it only opens up a few small, niche markets, then success in these markets will not be enough to sustain significant growth.

Inventory your skills

Whereas core competencies are defined by your market strategy, your skills inventory is determined by your human capital. An effective skills inventory summarizes the skills, education, and experiences of an organization’s employees. A skills inventory may also include an assessment of leadership skills, certifications, and examples of specific client and industry experience. If done correctly, this inventory will provide a collective summary of the ingenuity, knowledge and real-world experience that an organization possesses.

Consider adjacencies

Adjacencies allow a company to expand into related business segments that utilize and reinforce the profitable core competencies. Identifying adjacent business opportunities is critical to sustainable growth.

According to Forbes magazine, there are two factors that make adjacencies work: the adjacency materially improves the value proposition of your business; and the adjacency uses enough of your company’s distinctive capabilities to be favored in the marketplace. When considering adjacencies, you’ll need to determine what skills transfer outside of your market niche.

Select a new path that gives you the highest return

Using all the information you’ve gained from evaluating your organization’s competencies, your employees’ skills, and your potential areas of growth, you can now determine the path which will result in the highest return.

It’s doubtful that this process will be linear. It’s likely that your organization will need to reevaluate at every step along the way. However, by creating a business adaptation strategy, you can be sure that when the time comes to adapt, you’ll be ready and prepared to take on the challenges ahead.

Google Analytics for Beginners: The Three Metrics You Need To Know

While content remains king for websites, it only gets you so far if you aren’t making sure your site is easy to find, view and read. Let’s say you’re a chef and your version of boeuf bourguignon could put Julia Child to shame, or your homemade gumbo could bring tears of joy to Emeril Lagasse’s eyes–the world should know about it, right?

Well, for a first-time or casual Google Analytics user, it can be intimidating to track performance when there are so many choices. And if you don’t know which analytics to track, your content may not get the visibility it deserves. If you aren’t working with an integrated digital marketing agency, tracking the following three metrics is a great starting point. These tips can make all the difference in attracting and retaining the right audience.

Where You Are Discovered

There are so many potential places to market your content–from Facebook to Pinterest to Snapchat–that you can run yourself ragged trying to tailor content for each application. Instead, look at the source/medium of your traffic in Google Analytics (found under the “Acquisition” tab) to see how users find your site. If most users are discovering you through Instagram or Pinterest, dedicate more time and money marketing on those sites instead of those that aren’t giving you as much traffic.

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How You Are Consumed

Now that you know where your readers find you, it’s time to see if they use desktops or mobile devices to read your content. You can find this by looking at the Audience section in Google Analytics and checking out “Mobile Overview.” If you learn that 80 percent of users view your site on their phone, spend less time making your desktop page look nice and more time perfecting your mobile site. In other words, make it as easy as possible for readers to digest your recipes –pun intended.

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What is Viewed

Planning a content calendar for upcoming recipes is much easier and more effective if it’s supported by data from your most viewed pages. If you look at “All Pages” in Google Analytics (found under Site Content in Behavior) and you find that your cake recipes are viewed the most, focus on creating new cake recipes rather than a series of posts on fancy hors d’oeuvres.

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By tracking these three metrics, you’ll be amazed at how much more effective your marketing strategy will be and how much it can positively impact traffic to your site.