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The Case for Profile Mapping

“How do you get to Donegal?” said the traveller. The local man scratched his head, “Well, if I were you Sir, I wouldn’t start from here!”

This quaint and allegedly apocryphal story often raises a chuckle but behind it lies a clear corporate reality. How can companies focus themselves in the right direction when they don’t know the position from which they begin their journey?

We live in a world of instant communication, instant decision-making and instant judgement. The growth of technology rather than easing the process of communication has complicated it, as we are overwhelmed with more and more electronic data and material.

In this sort of environment it is all too easy for the assessment of potential partners or suppliers to be “dumbed down”.

This is why we have developed “Profile-Mapping”ä and why we believe it will become an increasingly important aspect of strategic planning – in the companies that are brave enough to do it.

Companies who are trying to win new contracts often devote enormous amounts of time (quite rightly) to new business pitches and presentations. But they often neglect one thing – the right starting-point. Very rarely do they know how they are perceived at outset and where they figure in their potential client’s market landscape. So often companies do not know who their competitors are or if they do, how they are perceived relative to their competitors.

There are reasons for this and they usually have a lot to do with personal and corporate ego. After all, it takes a brave manager to open himself up to potential criticism if his company are rated as inferior to their competitors or are effectively ignored for attractive pieces of new business by the companies they want to do business with.

To compound this problem, it is not always possible to solve it simply by asking companies for their opinion. The “Halo” effect is not only well known – it is a powerful distorting factor. Very rarely does image research work -unless it is independent and asks the right questions.

There are many ways to circumvent the harsh reality of this sort of research. You can ask superficial questions, fail to confront the real issues you need to find out about and give the researcher an inadequate brief. But in the hard, competitive world we find ourselves in does this really make sense?

Profile mapping isn’t an easy process because it encourages you to take a real warts n’ all look at what your clients really think of you and what your potential clients think it would be like to work with you.

We believe that Profile-Mapping works for a number of reasons. These include:

Issue probing Rigorous pre-survey discussion of the real issues affecting a business.
Reality gap The use of realistic measurement to illustrate the gap between a company’s perception of its competitive position and the reality evidenced by the survey.
Client concerns The ability to find out from clients and potential clients what really matters to them and which companies deliver it best.
The personal factor Finding who in your company provides most value to clients and who among your competitors gives you the most significant problems.
Measures that matter Searching with you to provide the right measurements and co-ordinates to chart your industry. Typical measures that we use are key matrices – price/service, communication skills/expertise and current performance/growth potential. These are the real metrics that you will be judged on - and assessed against your key competitors. We can add to this other key metrics that you want to discover.

Profile-Mapping isn’t a comfortable process either. It isn’t meant to be - mainly because almost all businesses are finding that the pressure of business is none too comfortable either. It is an honest attempt to help you confront the real issues in your business and to do so from a competitive position, that is as accurate as we can make it.

Only companies who really want to succeed will try it – but the value of doing so could be priceless.

If you want to talk to Le Beau Visage about differentiation or profile-mapping please e.mail Peter@LeBeauVisage.co.uk

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