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The Top 10 business frameworks

B2B Frameworks website has been running for just over a year. 100 marketing and strategic business frameworks have been viewed by more than 10,000 visitors. It is time to examine the “top 10” visited frameworks:

1. Brand Positioning Bullseye

Number one on the list is the Brand Bullseye. Its status as the most visited framework shows the importance and fascination we have with branding. This tool is used to sharpen brands and make communications desirable, distinctive and defensible. The Bullseye works like a target. Around the edge is an analysis of how customers feel about the brand and what makes it special. Moving towards the centre, the brand is synthesised into just one or two words which describe the brand's position. It’s a great structure for ensuring that a brand resonates with its audience.

2. Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

It is significant that one of the most popular frameworks is also one of the oldest. USP was the brain child of advertising executive, Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company in 1940. This tool helps us find the feature of our offer which is special and different from those of competitors. It does it by examining what is in the offer that isn't in any competitors’ products and it ensures that this proposition is what target customers really want.

3. SWOT

It was not surprising to see that the framework for examining strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats is high in the favourite’s league. It is a tool that is regularly used in business workshops to find priorities for improvements or investment. The key to the tool is not so much recognising a company's strengths and weaknesses (these are internal and usually well-known) but spotting the external opportunities and threats.

4. Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey maps are relatively new on the scene. They help us understand what customers are thinking from the time an offer is known to them through all the steps in the customer process including ordering, delivery and after sales. It is a great tool for a company workshop. If people from all parts of the company take part, everyone can take ownership of the improvements that are needed.

5. Business Model Canvas

This very popular model is relatively new and arises from a book by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in which they bring together all parts of a business proposition using engaging graphics.

Their framework has a number of building blocks – the company infrastructure, the offering, customers, finances, and revenue streams. These blocks fit together to produce an efficient company. The appeal of "the canvas" is being able to see the different building blocks on one page.

6. Kotler's Five Product Levels

This framework, from business guru Philip Kotler, shows that when people buy something, they buy more than a physical/tangible product. The core product is important but so are other parts of the offer that surround it. These other parts are the generic product, the expected product, the augmented product, and the potential product. The product levels provide an opportunity to turn a commodity or a basic product into something special.

7. PEST

The PEST analysis tool was developed by consultants from Harvard Business School. It is a framework for analysing four external forces that shape the business environment – political, economic, social, and technological. The tool is a great complement for SWOT analysis as it helps explore opportunities and threats.

8. Mintzberg's 5Ps For Strategy

This framework from Henry Mintzberg helps us understand different types of business strategies. Sometimes strategies are structured and planned. However they can be specific ploys to beat the competition. They can be a pattern that emerges by accident. Sometimes strategies involve taking a strong position so that the company stands out in a crowded marketplace. And finally, a strategy can be a unique way in which the company works within its marketplace.

9. Porter's Generic Strategies

It's not surprising that Michael Porter features in the top 10 league table of popular frameworks. His generic strategies have guided many companies in finding a strong competitive position. He argues that a business must stand for something if it is to be successful. He argues that there are three important positions that can be taken – low-cost, niche, and differentiated (brand). A strategy that follows one of these positions will be more successful than one that sits somewhere in the middle.

10. ANSOFF

Completing our top 10 business frameworks is Ansoff's matrix. This tried and tested tool helps us examine strategies for diversification by looking at four paradigms – selling existing products to existing markets, selling existing products to new markets, selling new products to existing markets, and selling new products to new markets. This great strategic tool can be used with a SWOT to work out how to move forward in each box of the matrix.

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