Driving any form of business growth is never easy; more so when you want it to be sustainable. It is more than just loading up your product with more features or even offering add-on services. To achieve any growth requires developing a solid strategic plan; tactics that may be organic or inorganic or a mix of both, and then some.
Some of the most common growth plans that businesses adopt include increasing market penetration, market expansion, product expansion, product or service diversification, mergers and even acquisitions to give them the desired growth.
Before you go out and implement a plan, it is important to first identify and articulate these 6 growth tips:
Define your Business Growth Goals
Most growth goals are usually 5 - 10 years in the making because they usually sound like “We want to be a million-dollar company” or “We want to be the largest player in the country” or “We want to take our product to the world” etc. It is impressive to have a larger-than-life vision; however in the short run (say 12 - 18 months) you will not only want to evaluate your successes, but more importantly need to get your cloths dirty by walking through the swamp. So once you’ve defined your big vision, break it down into smaller, sizable chunks (6 -12 months), so that everyone within the team knows what they are working towards and together you can celebrate smaller successes.
Related: Strategy Maps, Critical Thinking
Not every customer you currently have is your ideal customer or one that is going to be with you for the long haul; and that’s fine. Knowing which of your customers are getting the most value from your solution – those that can tell you why they chose you and are happy with their decision – will help you not only identify which solutions deliver the best customer fit, but also do more of what you’re doing to get more of those kinds of customers.
Related: Problem Definition Statements, Customer Profiling, Value Creation
Know what Questions to Ask, and Whom to Ask
Truly understanding customers’ mindsets is never easy. Not only are no two customers the same, but also neither are their problems. This definitely poses a challenge for any business because not only is the customer an authority on what s/he wants, but most often has no idea what kind of solutions are there and which is the optimum one for them. The reality is that marketers focus too much on creating products and services based on narrow demographic segments Vs. creating solutions that satisfy core customer needs (be they social, functional or emotional).
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill.
They want to buy a quarter-inch hole!”
- Theodore Levitt
Understanding what your customer is trying to solve will enable your business to devise and offer a solution that satisfies that core need.
Related: Customer Biases, Behavioural Psychology
Understanding & Bridging Gaps in your Customer Experience Map and Value Journey
Any seasoned marketer will tell you that bridging the gaps and reducing the friction between what customers want and what businesses have to sell, is the quickest way to closing a sale. Most mature businesses have already devised and implemented their Customer Experience Map or Customer Value Journey; however within those journeys there might still exist friction points that result in difficulty or confusion for your customer. Identifying those friction points and designing those sections (be it Customer Experience offline or online, leveraging research or qualitative data for insights, digitization etc.) of a customer journey will help your business achieve sustainable business growth.
Related: Buyer Value Journey, Customer Pain-points, Empathy Marketing
Identify and Focus on Key Performance Indicators
Defining what KPIs you will check, calculate and measure will ensure that you know which of your growth strategies is actually working and which is not; how they are actually working towards achieving your 12 - 18 month goals and eventually your 5 - 10 year goal.
Related: Net Promoter Score
Try; Amend; Repeat
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of ‘insanity’. Try something new, Amend the strategy to deliver the desired outcome and Repeat the intentional and controlled process to create a sustainable and scalable strategy for sustainable business growth.
Related: Multichannel Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Paid Media, Marketing Mix
Mind the Gap
Businesses are usually made for profit. Without profit there can be no jobs, no innovation, no growth. During any growth preparation, planning, creation or expansion it is vital for the survival of your company that good business sense prevails, and therefore a single metric that needs to be kept in mind is “How quickly can this plan lead to profitability?”
Focusing all hands and energy only on the growth plan across the entire organisation can lead to unnecessary pain. Ensure that everyone in the organisation continues to stick to daily tasks, maintaining the highest levels of customer service; continues to produce the best possible product or service. Prioritize what things can slip a little bit without capsizing the entire ship, or where reinforcements need to be made via manpower or training or automation or partnerships so as not to let existing things become unmanageable.
Working in silos can kill progress or create a false sense of success. Let everyone know the progress being made, where they have performed exceptionally or where things are falling behind. Productivity happens in-person and definitely outside of email.
Power of People
It takes a village to raise a child and that holds true for any and all growth initiatives. While it is important that everyone contributes, it is also a reality that sometimes hard decisions need to be made especially when people don’t align with your growth agenda. Letting them go can not only be the best thing for your business but also be the best thing for them too. This way, you can make room for new and appropriate talent, empower your existing team to be able to do their job the best they can, and let other people explore new opportunities where they can be happy and productive.
Related: Employee Satisfaction, Marketing Promises, Organizational Culture
Get your Ego out of the Way
Business growth is only about achieving business objectives; rarely about personal triumphs. Sure, it’s nice to be able to brag, but if bragging rights are the true motive behind the growth then there is something terribly wrong. Taking calculated risks, carefully calculating projects, figures and plans with sensibility and rationality will counter-balance overly-optimistic projects and outcomes. Sometimes it is in the best interest of business to seek external advice either from a trusted inner circle of friends or family; or from an external growth professional.
Irrespective of the sector your company works within, it is very likely that your competition excels at something your company is struggling with. Time and effort spent on either learning and evaluating their processes; or asking for advice can help you effectively deal with the problem at hand and move forward quickly.
As any leader knows, what got you here is not going to get you to the next level. Your to-do lists and work approach are going to change (maybe dramatically) as you execute your growth plans. It helps to not only improve your leadership skills by building future leaders within your company, but also to build and strengthen your own skills to ensure that you bring your ‘A’ game to the table every time.
There are hundreds if not thousands of articles out there that highlight the benefits of improved internal collaboration. Yes, while internal collaboration improves productivity, builds culture and trust; there exist untapped opportunities for your businesses growth through improving and encouraging customer collaboration. Customer collaborations elevate the product or service of your company.
“Bigger the brand, greater the possibility that customers feel ignored.”
When this happens, customers tend to take things into their own hands. The best case would be that they identify and hijack the most active online forum that the brand uses, to vent their frustration. In the worst case, they sometimes build their own online communities and invite others to vent their own frustration with the brand. Either way, the brand loses as it is always better to have customer feedback manifest in an environment where customers feel their inputs are invited and heard Vs. outside the brand where it has limited or no ability to communicate.
Proactively seeking out inputs from customers results in increased sales and unquestioned loyalty. Leveraging marketing automation tools can dramatically improve effectiveness, speed and results.
Related: Build your Tribe, How Influencers marketing actually accelerates growth and sales
Devising strategies that drive sustainable business growth is tough. It will test the mettle of any business leader constantly. Being able to recognize the true core of the business and where its core competencies lie, requires not only that you look internally but also externally as to where the turnaround opportunities for the business actually are. It sometimes demands restructuring, building a strong balance sheet and most importantly focusing on cash generation. But as every business owner knows: There can be no space between what you want to happen and what you’re willing to do to make it happen.
Trigger Worldwide is a Brand Marketing Agency, built specifically for businesses to create Sustainable Growth. Our proprietary tools and process methodologies harness Technology, Creativity & Innovation, leverage Economic Drivers and Consumer Beliefs to help businesses overcome marketing inefficiencies and achieve their Growth Agendas.
“CREATE AN INSPIRED FUTURE FOR YOUR BUSINESS”
~ Trigger Worldwide