The Missing KPI of Outdated Businesses (And How to Overcome It)

By Maverick Foo

What's a KPI? Certainly not the Key Performance Index in this case

Ask any entrepreneur on the key units that make up a business, and all will agree the four fundamental areas are:
  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Operations
  4. Finance
Sure, there are some other departments such as technology, customer service, R&D, and HR, but you and I will agree that it can be nested under the four, and further expand once the company grows in size.

As a matter of fact, some entrepreneurs may even go on to combine Sales and Marketing under one roof, while Operations and Finance are under another. 

As they are starting out, some may even be handling all four!

But one thing is for sure, while traditionally those are the essential functions, over the last two decades, the International giants such as Apple, Alibaba and Uber, and the local legends like AirAsia, FashionValet, and Grab all have one extra element that sets them above their competitors. Let’s take a look at some facts and figures.

If you look at the number of followers under Tesla’s Twitter account, and then compare it with Elon’s, you will see the difference in numbers.

But it’s not just an outlier for Elon, who is the man behind the engineering marvels Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity and HyperLoop. Here are other similar occurrences.

Vaynermedia vs Gary Vaynerchuck 

Microsoft vs Bill Gates 

Virgin vs Sir Richard Branson

Even for local fashion icon Vivy Yusof

All of them have an additional business function, a special ingredient, a secret sauce even, and that is the missing KPI that others lack—Key Person of Influence.

In the past, it is common for business leaders to hide behind the brand. This was the case of the pre-2000 days of industry giants such as P&G, Unilever and American Express. But today, can you imagine a Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg, an Amazon without Jeff Bezos, or an Alibaba without Jack Ma

As a matter of fact, research has repeatedly shown that the number one reason why some startups got invested in while others do not, is because of the founder. Some may have better market insights, while others the technological advantage, but the constant denominator of all these successful ventures is that they have a Key Person of Influence.

The good news is, before the year 2000, branding a KPI will require a high upfront investment of PR, promotion and advertisement cost. With over 197+ social media platforms and 3 Billion internet users, the real focus now are:

1. Content Strategy
What is the best format that your target audience prefers, which also happens to be part of your natural content creation skill set (writing, designing, video taking etc)?

2. Content Ideation
What angle of content will excite your audience, steal their attention, cultivate the trust towards you and your brand?

3. Content Distribution
Which online channels do your most profitable audiences “hang out”, and what is the most effective medium on those platforms?

If you notice, I have left out Content Production; with the hundreds of free to paid software, ranging from images and infographics with Canva and Stencil, to video animation and editors like Kapwing and or even outsourcing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, most of the hard work can be taken off your hands.

And I’ll be honest, even among the three mentioned above, they can be partly outsourced as well. Imagine having your well performing content reaching a wider audience with an effective marketing push, or leveraging the success strategies and proven frameworks by partnering with a business consultancy agency.

That is the true leverage of technology, where even something as intuitive and subjective as creativity, or as unique as your personality, are no longer restrained by the concept of time, talent and reach.

But let’s head back to the original concept here—the making of you as your business’ KPI.

And to do that, let’s look at the KPI Framework that we use to help our clients to activate their authority, stand out from the crowd and become the market leader in their industry.

Step 1 - Personify Your Beliefs

Our behaviours are what others will notice externally, but it’s our internal beliefs that drives our actions. While others will be motivated by what we do, they will be inspired to follow us, if they know what we stand for, and what we believe in.

Projecting your ideologies, principles and values are the starting point to your journey to be a KPI, and to do that, you need to first identify your beliefs.
Ask yourself:

  1. In an ideal world, what do people believe in?

  2. What irritates you that propels you to do what you do?

  3. If there’s one thing you want to be remembered for, long after you are gone, what will that be?

Step 2 - Position Your Authority

Because of your years of industry experiences, learned expertises and accumulated connections, whether you like it or not, you are known for something. Sometimes, it’s something so innate that we don’t even realise that we have it.

That’s why having mentors and coaches are handy, for they help us uncover the “goldmines” buried in our very own backyard.

Ask yourself:

  1. What problems do people come to you for help?
  2. What comes naturally to you while others struggle?
  3. If you are strapped for cash, what’s an ability you can rely on to “save” you?

Step 3 - Publish Your Thoughts 

This ties to the content marketing strategy we talked about earlier. Once you have identified your message and your authority, you will need to produce articles, videos, podcasts, white papers, books or any content format that you’re most comfortable in.

Ask yourself:

  1. Given your experience in your industry, what are some common problems that you can help solve?
  2. Which do you find easiest - writing a 1000-article, designing an infographic or recording an 8-minute video?
  3. What are some myths or misconceptions others “experts” had been throwing around that you do not agree with?

Step 4 - Propagate Your Message

Publishing your content is useless if you cannot find effective methods to distribute them and reach your Most Profitable Audiences.

Ask yourself:

  1. What are some social media groups that you’ve created or part of, that you can share your content pieces with?

  2. Can you partner with any publications or communities out there that share the same target audience as you?

  3. Do you have a minimal budget to “boost” your content on social media?

For many, 2020 is a year of change. With the COVID-19 Global Pandemic serving as a wake-up call to most business owners, corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, we find ourselves evaluating our processes, propositions and position in the market. In the next 18 months, we will welcome new market leaders, or even new millionaires, and if my hunch is right, they would have done two things right:

  1. They capitalised on the situation that had crippled others in their field

  2. They leveraged their Unfair Advantage and became the Key Person of Influence of their business.

Now, we can wait out to see if my hunches are right, which frankly serves no purposes other than bragging rights or “I told you so”
Or, strike now in a time when even giants have toppled, and work on becoming the KPIs that will ultimately give you the x-factor, putting you ahead of everyone else once the dust has settled. 

This is a contribution by Maverick Foo, Marketing Strategist & New Profits Consultant of Authority Institute. He is also a Co-Founder of KICKSTART.MY and has built 9 international businesses & brands.