BOSTON — Retail and supplier executives got their start before Meet the Market Saturday morning with Dan Mack, managing director of Mack Elevation Forum, who shared the six factors that make “dark horse” companies — small- to mid-tier companies that have carved out a successful business for themselves — great.
“Dark horse companies are really authentic,” he told attendees of the session titled “Strategies for Success — The Secrets of Winning Dark Horse Companies.” “That’s part of the magic, [and] most of us are dark horses. The best organizations embrace [their dark horse identity], and they embrace feedback — that’s a common theme across the whole dark horse field, they embrace honesty.”
Of the six themes outlined by Mack, successful dark horse companies possess a strong identity, have a corporate culture aligned with that identity, tap hidden assets, pursue co-creation with their partners, create a blueprint to success and possess a culture of grace.
Starting with identity, companies need to identify who they intend to be, not what products they intend to make. “Your identity is actually very fixed,” Mack said. Companies who stay true to their identity are not followers, Mack said, instead they blaze their own trail with a sense of authenticity. “Retailers want organizations that create [a] path,” he said
Companies that are not true to their identity fall out of alignment, Mack warned. “Only 13% of employees think that they’re company is aligned to win. Most companies are really not relevant — 75% of organizations really don’t create value when you talk to the customer,” he said. There are four common blind spots that companies out of alignment have: their products are not unique, they underestimate the competition, they don’t know their customer’s agenda and they don’t listen.
Dark horse companies also exploit their hidden assets and share them with their partners, such as tapping collective knowledge, creating unique experiences for the consumer, bringing relationships to bear or manufacturing custom solutions. “The best asset you have may not be your products; it may be your intangibles,” Mack said.
“Intangibles and hidden assets lead into this other thing that dark horse companies do,” Mack said. “They co-create with the retailer; they co-create with partners; they listen to ideas [and] are really good at stimulating ideas.”
Mack noted that successful dark horse companies pull all of this together into a blueprint that helps them stay the course. “The blueprint uncovers your story [and] helps you learn your customer’s story,” he said.
In all, more than 700 companies, including 44 retailers and 22 suppliers participated in Meet the Market.
For more photos from Meet the Market, click here.