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The One Question You Need To Solve Business Challenges

Sand for Your Inbox
July 2012

When business isn’t running as we’d like, it is easy to become fixated on end results. “If we could just drive sales….” “If we could just get more traffic…”

While these results are important, what we really need is the how. The strategies, tactics, and action steps that will get us to the end results. Team members repeating “I need more sales” is not going to do the trick.

Working this out doesn’t require rocket science, but applying the ideas in this month’s Sand for Your Inbox may sky-rocket your business.

A simple method to get to those solutions is to spend time asking:

“How can might we…?”

How might we drive sales? How might we drive traffic? Determine at least four “how might we” answers. Then, for each of those answers ask again “How might we…” Identifying at least four responses for each.

The best tool for this exercise is a simple outline. Indent for each round of answers.

Let’s use the “How might we drive sales?” as an example.

Round 1:

How might we… drive more sales?

Here are four ideas…

  1. By building more awareness.
  2. By charging more to those already coming in. (Raise Prices)
  3. By getting existing customers to visit/buy more frequently. (Increase Frequency)
  4. Get people who come in to buy more than what they normally do. (Add-on Sales)

Round 2:

How might we… drive more sales?

Let’s take those first four answers and ask “how might we?” about each.

1) How might we… build awareness?

  • Do advertising.
  • Do PR.
  • Do community events.
  • Word of mouth: get current customers to tell others.

2) How might we… raise prices?

  • Increase prices across the board.
  • Increase price of most popular products.
  • Add perceived higher-tier items – that command a higher price point.
  • Remove lower-priced / smaller sized options from menu.

3) How might we… increase frequency?

  • Add items for a different time of the day / daypart (e.g. add breakfast).
  • Offer special in-store events to encourage non-traditional visits (e.g. art events, live music).
  • Run frequency-building consumer promotion(s).
  • Create / suggest additional uses for your product (e.g. baking soda for cleaning, cranberry sauce – not just for Thanksgiving).

4) How might we… get add-on sales?

  • Put impulse items near the cash register.
  • Offer add-on extended warranty / product insurance.
  • Show customers products that pair with and enhance what they normally buy.
  • Offer specials encouraging families and group sales.

You should keep asking “how might we…?” as many times as you can. I’ll stop here. As you can see, with only two rounds, there are some great ideas in the works.

We now have sixteen different options to help drive sales. Some will make a big difference, others not as significant. But, now we’re armed with strategies and tactics that will get us to our desired results.

So, when you find yourself or your teams dwelling on that end result, try a few rounds of “How might we…” to get to the actions steps you need.

Best to you,

Paul's Name
Paul Williams
brainstormer, Idea Sandbox

Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

This post was originally sent to those who have subscribed to the “Sand for Your Inbox” email list. Become a free member and receive tips and techniques about remarkable marketing sent directly to your email!

Update: Great feedback from Matt Homann from Non Billable Hour. Matt suggests asking “how might we” instead of “how can we.” I’ve updated the article to reflect this slight, but important change. Thanks, Matt!

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