So, you want more customers, but who else do you need to influence to be truly successful?
Typically, you’ll have between 8 and 12 stakeholders, but the largest mapping we’ve done so far has been 23 different stakeholders.
What is a stakeholder?
It is an group / company / organisation / person that is directly or indirectly affected by your business. That sounds very vague doesn’t it? So let’s take a look at a stakeholder map:
Some of these are very evident, others less so, and you may have different groups again, but these are the ones that turn up the most frequently in our clients.
Let’s start at 12 o’clock on the wheel and go round and I’ll give you a reason why you should consider these as stakeholders in your business.
- Suppliers: If your business is successful, then their business gets paid on time and grows along with yours. If your business was not successful, then that means that the supplier could potentially lose a client. Having good relationships with suppliers means that favourable terms could be negotiated to aid cashflow whilst the product is travelling through the early stages of the product life cycle.
- Consultants: Some businesses need to have industry consultants aware of them and their offerings. The consultants can then give a recommendation to their clients to use your offerings. That may be a medical consultant suggesting a certain type of ankle support, an IT consultant suggesting a software solution that you have, a marketing consultant recommending a graphic designer… these are people who can help take your business to the next level.
- Press / Social Media Influencers: Social media influencers do as the label suggests, they influence. Their opinion matters and that opinion gives credibility to the offering and story being told to the customers. They can also help with building the brand which can positively impact future funding applications if they are needed. They can help with word-of-mouth recommendations to their audiences. Coverage in the press – online / offline – spreads the awareness of the offering. It could be local, regional, national or industry papers / magazines / news sites; but don’t be scared to reach out to radio or TV – they need content too. As long as it is newsworthy for their audience don’t be afraid of approaching Woman’s Hour on Radio 4, This Morning on ITV or any other programme that would be relevant.
- Investors: As the company grows then there may be a requirement for a series of funding to allow the growth to continue. Good relationships with investors mean that they are more vested in the overall success and not just a percentage gain over a specific timeframe. They will act as proactive advisers and not just a “cash ATM”.
- Alliance Partners: They are companies that have complementary products and / or services to those offered by your business so that joint marketing can be done for mutual benefit and shared costs. They can give your business added credibility and access to a new audience.
- Staff: Of course, those employed now and in the future have a key stake in the success of the business. After all, if it grows and is profitable then their jobs are more secure and morale / motivation will be at a higher level, but if the business struggles for sales then that can lead to doubts about positions and possibly lead to higher staff turnover than optimum.
- Clients: The most important stakeholder from this list, as if they do not buy then there is no business. Customers will fit into various categories – some businesses are B2B focussed, others business to consumer, some both. Even in those broad brushstrokes there will be sub-categories. The better you know your customers the better the results and the more invested they will be in your success.
- Financial Organisations: Our business banks are an oft underutilised resource. Many of the banks have business advisers in-house, having a regular meeting with them means that if you have an issue and need a short term business overdraft or a medium term loan, then it is more likely to be accepted as you will be seen as an organisation that takes care of its financial situation as much as you can, that there is a business plan and strategy in place and is being followed and updated.
- Professional Bodies: Many occupations have a professional body, so engaging with those can give access to cheaper or free of charge training, as well as giving you credibility and gravitas with your co-workers and clients. For other organisations marketing to and through professional bodies can be a core strategy. For example, if you have a product which makes financial compliance easier then working with the ICAEW or ACCA to market to their members should be a key consideration. As well as their members taking up the offering, they can also influence their own clients (if not in-house) so targeting many more organisations than at first thought.
- Unions: If your product or service means that jobs are going to be affected at your clients, then engaging with trade unions at an early stage can be positive. It may be a case of reducing the mundane, dare I say boring, parts of the jobs and allowing the workers to be upskilled which may actually lead to an increase in salary and recognition.
- Resellers: If you don’t sell direct to your end customer then you are likely to be selling through a two or three tier reselling channel. These could be online or offline, B2B resellers, retailers or distributors / wholesalers. The resellers own the relationship with the end customers in terms of delivery and customer service. They hold stock. They set the final price on your products. They need marketing support from you to make your offering successful. They need educating on your offering so that they can deliver the support if it is necessary. They allow you to scale your sales operation easily and cost-effectively.
- Local and / or Central Government: For central government, then it could be changes to financial items such as VAT, changes to relevant legislation need to be monitored, but also exploring what grants are available to aid growth, for example, outward and in-ward trade missions to build links to suppliers and distributors, or lobbying on a law change in your sector. If a home is used as a business premise, then the local authority may take a view regarding business rates – unlikely if just in a spare bedroom or on a kitchen table, however, if an outbuilding is used, for example, then that may fall under business rates. As your company expands then business rates will come into play when an industrial unit or office is taken. Other ways local authorities may help is with twinning towns or culture specific events that you could leverage to start with or grow exports. In addition here there is also HMRC and making sure VAT and taxes are paid on time.
Other stakeholders could include shareholders, standards bodies such as MHRA, monitoring bodies such as CQC – it really depends on your organisation.
If you need any help with identifying your stakeholders and how to reach out to them then please drop us a line.