Top-line business reports are useful. The reports give you a quick snapshot of how the natural category and your brand are performing. They also provide you with a quick look at your competition, their sales performance, the market and anything that might affect your sales. At first glance, top-line reports will answer some of your questions. Unfortunately, top-line reports are designed to work for everyone equally—including your competition. Top-line reports don’t provide you with the bigger picture and do not give you the competitive advantage you need.
The challenge is that your business is a lot more complex than any canned or top-line reports can address. Top-line or canned reports are very generic and do little to answer most business questions. Imagine reading a report that tells you that your business is healthy nationally but fails to identify threats and specific markets where you're losing share to your competition. Wouldn't it be more helpful to identify a potential threat before the competitors take your sales? The right reports will help you proactively manage your business and beat your competition.
The real business-growing questions
Here are several important questions you need to answer to effectively grow your business:
- How is your brand performing in each market?
- How is your competition doing and are they outperforming your brand?
- Is there a hidden opportunity to reach more customers?
- Are your promotions attracting new customers?
- Are your customers selecting your competitors when you’re out of stock?
- What steps do you need to take to become the preferred vendor?
Report data you need
What information do you want to see in your reports? Custom reports provide answers to these questions and so much more. They are the key to the success of your business. Custom reports can be built to address every aspect of your business including, but not limited to:
- Your sales performance.
- Market performance reports.
- Retailer performance reports.
- Your current distribution at each retailer.
- Pricing comparisons between you and your competition.
- Promotion analysis (promotion vs. event cost).
- Inventory management reports.
- Consumer buying habits and trends.
- Channel comparison reports.
- Custom ranking reports.
Data in the natural channel is extremely fragmented. Hiring a true expert with extensive experience to help you identify the best resources and create your custom tools can be a significant cost savings compared to the potential missed opportunities from relying solely on canned reports and consultants who are not truly experts with the data and the resources. This investment in your business will have the biggest impact on your future success when planning your annual budget. Don't forget to allocate adequate funds for this crucial progress. Read my other articles to learn the best ways to maximize sales and compete more effectively.