6 Tips For Growing Your Business
Growth is essential for all companies if they are to survive. Daily you come across large companies with thousands of employees and million-pound turnovers, but do you ever stop and ask yourself how they got started?
Many of those multi-million-pound companies started in the same place as you and have slowly grown over time. They often didn't have marketing departments, business development executives, nor advertising budgets. Instead, they rose from drive, passion, and tenacity.
You may hear stories of technology companies making million-dollar deals before they have even launched a product, but for most of us growing our companies takes hard work. Trying to grow your business is often a significant drain on your resources, whether that be time or money, and this is why you must have a strategy for growth.
While you were writing your business plan, you probably dedicated a section to marketing and how you were going to get customers. However, most business plans exist to raise capital and often get ignored once the business is up and running. They are often too big and clumsy to read when faced with the day-to-day of being an entrepreneur.
A simple approach can be to use a dry whiteboard, write down any of the 6 points below that you feel are pertinent to you. Devise solutions and use it as a daily/weekly reminder, checking in at least once a week with them to ensure you remain on target.
1. Unique Sales Proposition
Why are you different from your competitors?
Why should I use you or your business?
Being able to answer these two questions can help you develop your USP or unique sales proposition. Let's say you are a tradesperson, e.g., a plumber; do you compete on price alone or your ability to respond to a customer's leaking pipework quickly?
Without a USP or means to differentiate your business, you stand to be just another voice amongst many. It becomes harder to gain new business if you cannot stand out from your competitors. Once you have defined the USP, it can help form the message you want to drive to connect to your customers/clients.
2. Know Your Customers/Clients
The cleaning of cars has become a multi-million-pound industry, from automated car washes, hand car washes through to valeting there are services provided for all budgets and levels of car ownership. Detailing takes car cleaning to the next level. It removes contaminants in the paintwork that is invisible to the naked eye. Engines are made spotless, and even wheels will are removed to clean their inner side. As you can imagine, detailing isn't cheap and trying to target every car owner with your marketing would prove expensive with poor returns on your investment.
Understanding the customer for such a service is vital. They would not be the average car owner or the DIY car enthusiast who would probably do their own. The target customer for such a service would likely be a wealthy, time-strapped individual, maybe one who has an expensive car that is used only at weekends or special occasions.
Defining your customer allows you to target that market or segment of a market easier.
3. Increase Your Customer Contact
Keeping engagement with your customers is essential if you want them to keep coming back. You should develop a tactic of engagement, whether that is through running competitions, a newsletter or blog, or developing a social media strategy.
Keeping your customers engaged with your brand and aware of existing or new products/services is a great way to generate loyalty.
4. Market Penetration
You need to understand what products/services make up your revenue stream and their proportions in terms of sales. Your most critical selling items might not be the products/services you are most passionate about, but this exercise gives you an indicator of what your customers/clients want. This insight can help you create a precise marketing campaign around your core products/services, or help you explore how you promote your other revenue streams better.
Selling more into your existing customer base is common for many small businesses and is known as market penetration. Opportunities may present themselves to bundle products/services together, which you may consider selling at a discounted price to make them more attractive.
There may be new and alternative distribution channels. Many software companies look at selling their products through third-party businesses. If you are selling a new ERP system, you may choose to advertise directly to end-users, but finding an engaging these end-users can be time-consuming and costly. Alternatively, you could partner with companies specialising in manufacturing such as consultancies and leverage their points of contact to help promote your product.
5. Market Development
Market development is a term used to describe the opening up of new markets, whether that be through new product development, a further use for existing products, or moving into different regions or territories.
You might, through analysis of your revenue streams, find a new purpose for existing products. Repurposing a product can open new markets for you.
You may have existing products that can have a new lease of life if modified or upgraded. An example of this is Picquot Ware, commonly used to make teapots, sugar bowls etc. Picqout Ware was originally made by a company called Burrage and Boyd from 1939 until recently. Burrage and Boyd originally made non-electric vacuum clears and wanted to find a use for the waste Aluminium created by its processes. They discovered that by combining the Aluminium with Maganese and utilising their casting and machining skills, they could create an entirely new set of products that would open a completely new market for them.
6. Measure your Effectiveness
I am a big believer in Key Performance Indicator as a way to understand your business and marketing is no exception. If you are spending money on growing your business, then you need to understand the return on your investment.
Measuring your expenditure throughout the sales funnel and your subsequent acquisition of customers regularly are vital to controlling costs and understanding what is working or not during your campaigns.
When developing a strategy for growth, consider this point. Can your business and systems adequately handle the new amount of business you intend to generate? Will you need to take on new staff or upgrade your systems to manage. If the answer is yes, then consider the cost before embarking on growth strategies.