Amphora Consulting Blog

Unlocking the Value Chain

When we conduct our Grassroots Strategy workshops, a task on day one is to draw your value chain – the steps your offering goes through before reaching an end-user. In the business-to-business world, value chains can include different distributors, specifiers, installers and value-added resellers, all of whom can influence what gets bought by whom. We…

5 Pitfalls to Avoid when Value Pricing Software

We had a client many years ago that was struggling with how to bring a new software offering to market, specifically how to price it.  Their core product was equipment used in manufacturing processes and the associated parts and accessories.  The equipment was a large capital purchase for their customers, but they made most of…

Reliving the Glory Days and Boomerang CEO’s

In case you missed it, Robert Iger returned to the helm as CEO of the Walt Disney Company in November, less than two years after “retiring” in 2021.  This makes him the latest in a series of high profile ‘boomerang CEOs’ who return to their former posts after allegedly leaving it to a successor. Other…

Business Travel…Can you really stay healthy?

Here it is March, and for most of us our New Year’s resolutions have faded in the rearview mirror. Yet as we adjust to a post-Covid world, many would like to avoid returning to old bad habits. In particular, as business travel rebounds to near historic levels, fellow road warriors struggle to maintain a healthy…

RACI:  Love them or hate them, but used correctly, they can add value

After years of documenting key processes, re-writing job descriptions and automating org charts, many organizations still struggle to have clarity and alignment around roles, responsibilities, and authority.  This impacts business processes, project execution and day to day decisions resulting in frustration, inefficiency and sometimes poor decision-making.  We have seen this issue in action with our…

The Adventures of 2023 Planning and Lessons From a Tumultuous 2022

By any measure, 2022 was a year of nearly unprecedented change and for many of us, one that we are not in a hurry to see repeated. While 2022 saw most of the covid-related restrictions lifted, experts are still debating the lessons and the long-term cost to things like education and small businesses as well…

Your Organization is Hungry for a Strategy

We recall a rather depressing conversation with the CEO of a medium-sized company several years ago. We were trying to stress the importance of articulating a strategic agenda when he effectively shut down the conversation by asserting, “we have a three-pronged strategy: operational efficiency, organic growth and acquisitions. People need to stop asking questions and…

Image by Annie Spratt from Unsplash.

How Does Inflation Impact the Value You Deliver?

Inflation is hitting every sector of the economy, and almost every company we talk to is grappling with raising prices to compensate for their rising costs. Invariably someone will say, “Raising prices is value pricing, right?” Our answer is, not really. Although value pricing could lead to an increase in price, it could also lead…

Don’t Apply the B2C Customer Journey to B2B

Regular readers of our blog know that we have an instinctive negative reaction to consumer marketing concepts being applied in B2B. Ideas like personas and brand equity are critical in B2C marketing, but when inappropriately applied in B2B they can drive bad decisions based on customer preferences and personalities as opposed to real business needs…

Image by MLB.com

Rest in Peace, Vin Scully, There Will Never Be Another One Like You

Baseball broadcasting legend Vincent Edward ‘Vin’ Scully passed away last week at the age of 94. He was the voice of the Dodgers for an incredible 67 seasons, from 1950 to 2016. The awards and accolades that Scully received during his career are too numerous to mention. As one example, he received the Ford Frick…

Bringing Your Strategy to Life

Many years ago we worked for a client in the commercial waste management business – they hauled garbage from commercial businesses and construction sites. We were called in because, despite having spent a large sum with a top-tier consulting firm for their strategy, they were stuck on how to implement it.  The summary of the…

Taking the Customer’s Perspective?

OK, time for a quick test.  If you were looking at this menu board, what would you expect to pay for a bottle of Piper Heidsick champagne?  This is a real picture of the menu board that my wife and I were faced with on a recent Friday evening (I have doctored it only to…

Chinese Painting 國畫 – Image © CCCH 9051 Group 64: Chinese Traditional Craftsmanship: https://learning.hku.hk/ccch9051/group-64/items/show/47.

Value Chain Economics:  The Secret to Market Leadership

One of the first things we have our clients do in our Grassroots Strategy workshops is define the market or “opportunity” from their customer’s perspective.  The primary question we ask is “what is the problem you solve for the customer?” Seems simple, right?  Not always.  Answering that question is predicated on understanding who is the…

Image © The Estorick Collection

Do You Know the Momentum of Your Business?

When we run strategy workshops with clients, we usually start with a discussion of the momentum of the business.  Borrowing from the concept of momentum in physics, this is our attempt to capture the trajectory of the business – where it is likely headed in the absence of any change in strategy? This foundation is…

Make Sure You Don’t End Up With a “Paper Strategy”

The last two years have been pretty crazy. Whether your business has been doing well or badly in this environment, much of the last two years have probably felt a lot like crisis management. Starting with the new year in 2022, it’s a good idea to refocus your efforts on achieving your long-term strategic goals…

What Lessons Can We Take From This Turbulent Year?

The end of the year is always a time to take stock of where you are and think about how you might adjust your plans for the future. Even if you are normally not one to make new year’s resolutions, this past year certainly must have caused you to stop and reflect. Many pundits have…

Image © C. Herscovici/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A Winning Value Proposition Has to Be More Than Just a Slogan

Not long ago, we had a client that sold hospital equipment.  A recent acquisition had broadened their product line and they asked us for some help with the strategy for the new portfolio.  We started with an overview of our process, and when we got to the concept of value proposition, they stopped us. “Oh,…

‘Flow’ … being completely involved in an activity for its own sake

A pioneer and leading thinker in the world of positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, passed away last month at the age of 87 (for anyone who is not a native Hungarian speaker, I have been told that ‘MeHigh ChickSentMeHigh’ comes pretty close to the proper pronunciation).  Csikszentmihalyi’s seminal work centered on the concept of ‘Flow’ a phrase he coined…

Image by Steve Miller via Flickr.

Five Pointers to Avoid Being Stuck in a Segment

Grassroots Strategy is a powerful conceptual framework, it changes how many of our clients think and leads to exciting new ways for them to conceptualize their businesses. After having worked with our client teams to crack the code in applying key concepts like differentiation, customer value and market segmentation, it often strikes us that the…

Image by Lluís Ribes Mateu via Flickr.

Good Segmentation Schemes Often Start Out Sounding ‘Just Crazy Enough’

One of the benefits of having coached project teams through our needs-based segmentation process hundreds of times across dozens of industries is that we can spot patterns that are difficult to identify for even the seasoned industry practitioner who has typically developed a limited number of segmentation schemes, probably in just one or two industries. …

Image by Anton Johansson via Flickr.

What can The Rolling Stones teach us about Voice of the Customer?

In a probably slightly twisted sort of way I often think of the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” when I think about Voice of the Customer or VOC.  It is almost a universal truth that if you ask customers what they want, they will respond with some form of “a…

Don’t Wait for the Perfect Mission and Vision Statement to Create a Strategy

We often talk with companies who are waiting to work on their strategy because they are reworking their mission and vision statements.  There are key differences between mission, vision and strategy and it is essential they all fit together to drive impact.  Successful companies connect these three pieces together to ensure their business focus is…

Do you Prefer Superhero Strategy Lessons from DC Comics or Marvel?

When we were kids (yes, we had cars and televisions back then), there was no doubt that the DC universe of superheroes was cooler than the Marvel Universe.  DC had Batman and Superman, the two coolest crimefighters, plus we had the Justice League cartoons on Saturday mornings and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Women on TV.  DC…

Don’t Fall in Love With Last Decade’s Business Model

The Pygmalion Trap The Greek myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor who falls in love with the statue he creates, is one of the most enduring stories of all time.  The tale shows up in the works of Ovid, the Roman poet who lived in the time of Caesar Augustus. In the 18th and 19th century,…

Is a Semi-Custom Business Model the Right Fit For You?

A man in a well-tailored suit will always shine brighter than a guy in an off-the-rack suit. – Michael Kors Mr. Kors may be right, there is nothing quite like a real custom-tailored suit.  But it has also been one of life’s luxuries reserved for the fortunate few – a bespoke suit from one of…

In search of …… silver bullet strategy

Too often, companies believe that the purpose of strategic planning is to find some magical ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all their problems and guarantee a path to profitable growth. A frustrating conversation with a client we had a few years ago comes to mind: Amphora: What do you think of this draft strategy? Client…

Corporate Culture: You Don’t Know What You Think You Know

The list of books and blogs focused on corporate culture is expansive and it is a topic that has been discussed for decades. Why then is culture still one of the top issues leaders seek to address in their organizations? What holds organizations back from being able to develop the culture they are looking for?

Strategies to Stand the Test of Time

Is your strategy precise or robust? Precise: “Exactly or sharply defined or stated” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) or “Marked by exactness and accuracy of expression or detail” (Oxford English Dictionary) Robust: “Capable of performing without failure under a wide range of conditions” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) or “Sturdy in Construction” (Oxford English Dictionary) It is with some…

“I know it when I see it”

Defining strategy so your organization can soar. Many mid-sized companies become successful based on the intuition and experience of the CEO (often the founder) and sometimes one or several members of the Senior Management Team. Oftentimes they understand particular customer problems well and have developed offerings that uniquely solve these customer problems. Growth in the…

Can you make the headache of budgeting a thing of the past?

It’s that time of year again – no, we are not referring to the holiday displays starting to appear in stores which seems to happen earlier each year as the holiday season gets longer.  We are referring to the equally long season of budgeting that is ongoing for many of you reading this.  CFO Magazine…

Warning: No-one Cares About Your Product!

Our executive sponsor at a long-time client used to start off every Grassroots Strategy session by telling the teams to put a jar in the middle of their table and every time someone mentioned the word ‘product’ they had to put $5 in it. She told them that she was sure that every team would…

Innovation – You Can’t Go It Alone

Senior innovation leaders confirm that after years of talking about innovation, they are still struggling to integrate customer/market perspectives into the innovation process Amphora Consulting recently completed a survey of 20 senior innovation leaders. Our findings support the perspectives shared below. Complete results of the survey can be found here. Innovation is and continues to…

Market Segmentation – How to Get it Right

We continue to believe that done well, market segmentation is not just a critical marketing tool, but can be the defining element of your overall strategy. In our previous blog post, we shared of the most common difficulties in getting to a workable needs-based segmentation. So what can you do to avoid those mistakes above…

Market Segmentation – Why is it so Difficult?

In our Grassroots Strategy workshops with clients, the highlight of the week is often market segmentation. Done well, it is one of the most important changes in the way you think about your business and customers – the customers you choose to serve and how you serve them impacts both the revenue and the expense…

Should You Jump on the XaaS Bandwagon?

In 1998 Concur revolutionized the software industry by introducing their Software as a Service (SaaS) pricing and delivery model, rather than the traditional license and maintenance model. The model was revolutionary at the time because for a fixed monthly fee, customers got access to a continuous stream of small upgrades, rather than getting stuck on…

Leadership Now and in the New Normal

Decision making in times of unusual uncertainty is one of the greatest, perhaps the single greatest, challenges of leadership. Navigating the current COVID-19 crisis and crafting appropriate responses has been a challenge for leaders around the world. And whatever happens, we are likely to have years of second-guessing as to what we could have done…

Are You Ready to Come out on Offense?

With all the major sports leagues shut down, perhaps it is more important than ever that we keep alive that grand American business tradition – the sports analogy. So here it goes: boxer Mike Tyson once said “Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth.” At this point in the Covid-19 crisis,…

Don’t Make These Mistakes When it Comes to Pricing

Who Should Own Pricing in Your Organization?

Pricing is one of the most important levers your organization has, therefore pricing decisions are some of the most important it will make. Set the price too high, and you won’t sell anything. Worse yet, set the price too low and you are leaving money on the table. That leads to the question, what department…

This is a Time for Thoughtful Re-Planning

Rethinking your plans in light of the unthinkable To call these times turbulent is an understatement.  Obviously reducing the risk to lives is paramount, but the unprecedented threat of the Covid-19 virus and the necessary response are already wreaking havoc across the economy, with some second and third order effects that may be felt for…

Strategy, Focus and the Perfect Pint

In 1759, Arthur Guinness leased a disused brewery in Dublin and began producing beer for the local market.  Like most brewers of his time, he produced a variety of beers to meet a variety of tastes. But by the late 1770’s, Guinness was becoming known for his porter.  The dark beer that used roasted barley…

Is it time to take the ‘product’ out of product management?

Frequently, we are asked to tailor our ‘Grassroots Strategy’ workshops to serve as training for product managers. Typically, the identified need is a lack of strategic thinking and/or tools for analyzing markets in a company’s product manager group. Beneath the surface, however, we believe that the problem may run deeper. The problem may be grounded…

Not-for-Profit is a Tax Status, Not Your Strategy

We are asked from time to time if our ‘Grassroots Strategy’ framework applies in the nonprofit world. After some reflection and a couple of attempts to make it work, we are convinced that it does work. However, we have come to realize that nonprofits frequently need to add an additional step at the beginning of…

Clayton Christensen

RIP Clayton Christensen

One of the most original and influential strategic thinkers of all time, Clayton Christensen, passed away last week at the age of 67. Christensen was a professor at the Harvard Business School, a prolific author, dedicated philanthropist and moral philosopher, as well as being an entrepreneur himself before joining the ranks of academics.

Why do I need a Strategy if I have a Corporate Strategy?

Now is the time that you can settle into running your business. You have a set of sales targets, budget requirements and maybe product launches or geographic expansions that you have planned for and committed to for 2020. But independent of all of this, do you really know what you need to focus on to…


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