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Strategic Planning and Management Insights

The CEO of GoDaddy on Strategy and Leadership

[fa icon="calendar"] February 11 / by Anthony Taylor

 The Harvard business review recently interviewed the CEO of GoDaddy, Blake Irvin, on his leadership style, the strategy for GoDaddy (now and over the past 15 years) and how GoDaddy fits into the lives of small business owners in the US and across North America


Since domain sellers were relatively new15 years ago, GoDaddy went from a broad awareness strategy with their provocative ads, to being more customer focused and changing their advertising to focus on consumer needs. Their awareness strategy paid off with over 80% brand awareness.

As with all new products or services, the market needs to know about you and learn about the offering, and then sales will begin when the trust is built.

As their strategy moved from awareness to customer conversion, Irving explained how GoDaddy segments their customers by using psychographics instead of traditional demographics. This allows them to help better serve their customers by meeting their needs as they go: from having an idea to starting the foundation, and to becoming more established and further growing their businesses.

Irving also noted that GoDaddy puts a higher focus on female run small businesses as they represent 58% of small businesses within the US. He further elaborated that GoDaddy, as a culture, is extremely customer focused, and their mission is to support those small businesses that are typically underserved in the marketplace. He notes that 66% of those small businesses are self financed, and that they are the ones that truly need a helping hand to move forward and be successful.

GoDaddy also uses real people to gain feedback and to determine customer needs, rather than other methods such as  A/B testing or advanced data analytics.

When asked about his approach to developing the strategy for GoDaddy, Irving explained that his process was first to create the vision, then find great people, and then establish a strategy. Once they had the people and the strategy, the challenge was living their desired culture. To help with this, they created cultural statements (or strategic intents) to guide the intentions of their customer focused company.

He explained that most of his management team previously worked for different successful companies, so they bough a lot of insights into how to (and how not to) build a successful culture and business strategy around culture.

On the subject of the relationship with his employees, he makes a point to share and communicate with them as often as possible so they understand how their work ties into the company strategy. He makes sure to relate to not only the organizational goals, but also those of the business unit and the individual. 

He finished to say that your job as a leader is to support all the the front line employees who take care of the customers, like an upside down pyramid.

For the full interview visit HBR.org.

Our approach to strategy development is similar. It's very easy to create a high level strategy, but those high level strategies often fail if you don't take into consideration the people that are on the ground implementing the strategy. Furthermore, creating a strategy needs to be based on facts (not assumptions) and focusing strategic intents on your primary customer.


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Topics: Strategic planning, Business strategy, Leadership

Anthony Taylor

Written by Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor is thought leader on strategy and leadership. He's a published author on the subject of entrepreneurship and strategy, Anthony can be found doing keynotes in both French and English. You can connect with him on Twitter @anthonyctaylor and have him work with your team on your strategy and organizational development.

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