Growing a business can be challenging and intimidating. Sometimes, it’s downright discouraging. Most survive for a while, but 80% of businesses die within ten years.
That statistic says it all.
Developing a business growth strategy increases your chances of success by helping you stay on brand, use resources efficiently, and hit more goals. In this article, you’ll learn some of the most effective growth strategies used by successful businesses and how to implement them.
Build Your Brand to Stand Out
Every business has unique characteristics that affect how people perceive it. These characteristics are tangible and intangible, but all of them work together to form your brand.
Many business owners hesitate to invest in branding because they aren’t sure how to measure its impact on sales. But to appreciate the value of branding, you must be able to see the bigger picture.
Successful businesses use branding to build affinity with their target market and to enhance the value of their products and services.
As you develop a business growth strategy, you’ll explore what you do best and the people you help most. Your brand bridges the gap between the two.
To illustrate, I’ll use two well-known brands.
What comes to mind when you think of Harley-Davidson? Perhaps words like independent, bold, and freedom characterize this brand. So naturally, these traits appeal to Harley-Davidson’s audience.
But when you think about Mercedes-Benz, another set of words may come to mind, such as elite status and high quality. These characteristics resonate with consumers who buy luxury cars.
These simple brand examples show how feelings and impressions influence the consumer’s view of a business.
But can a small business—one without enormous corporate resources—build a brand?
Whether or not you are aware of it, you already have a brand. Every time someone encounters your business—visits your website, reads a post on social media, sees an ad—they get an impression. The impression is pulling them closer to you or pushing them away.
So, if you already have a brand, shouldn’t you take control and make it one that accurately reflects the quality of your work?
Branding as Part of Your Business Growth Strategy
Here are a few examples of how branding fuels business growth:
1. Consistent branding has been shown to increase in annual revenue by as much as 33%.Source: LucidPress
There is a link between consistency and stability. The more consistent you are in all you do, the more likely people are to trust you. Trust is a critical driver in sales.
2. The colors that represent your brand will have a positive or negative impact on sales.Source: Institute for Color Research
How do colors make an impact?
People determine how they feel about a visual or mental image within a few seconds. Color plays a significant role in this process.
For example, a stop sign is red, a green light means go, and yellow means caution. This color branding has been around for so long, the association is automatic.
3. People want to buy from businesses that share their values.Source: Harvard Business Review
Six in ten consumers stated they are more interested in companies that share their core values. This has been a popular trend for many years. Enterprises such as Tom’s Shoes have become known for sharing their mission and brand values with their target audience.
To create a brand, focus on:
Attributes are the traits and characteristics of your company—tangible or intangible. These work together to create a perception of your business.
For example, low prices and quick delivery are tangible identifiers. Portraying a bold and prestigious image is intangible.
Studies show that people assess images within 13 milliseconds. In other words, you don’t have long to make a lasting first impression.
Your business’s visual identity consists of a logo and other imagery. It should be professional, support the image you want to create, and resonate with your audience.
Many business owners don’t realize that their customers also contribute to their brand. After all, birds of a feather flock together. People with whom you associate, including customers, will affect how others see your business.
Of course, many companies go after anyone who will buy from them. But having a qualified target market is essential. These people are more likely to value what you offer, need it most, and be more willing to pay your price.
Sometimes, understanding your target market is difficult. Many small businesses don’t have enough data to analyze competitors or target markets. Analyzing your niche will provide a clearer picture of who your target customers are.
You can adjust as you acquire data.
Finally, consider your goals. Do you want to open multiple locations? Offer digital products? Sell the business in ten years?
Think big. Write down everything you want to do and rank it in order of most to least significant. Prioritizing will help you evaluate every step in your business growth plan.
8 Business Growth Strategies You Can Start Implementing Now
A business growth strategy is a plan designed to boost short- and long-term profit. There are endless ways to generate gain traction, but most fall into one of the categories below.
Create New Products or an Additional Service for Existing Customers
Creating new products or additional services is a way to grow revenue without investing too much in the unknown. Your customers have already purchased something from you. Now, there may be other things you can give them that they would buy.
How do you know? Ask.
Survey your customers and find out what they want that you aren’t currently giving them. Then, explore whether you can create those things at a reasonable cost. Not everything will be viable, but some will.
Surveying your customers may also provide opportunities to tap into other target markets.
Sell to Other Markets
If you feel that growth in your primary market space has leveled off, it may be time to explore new ones. Develop other uses for your product or service and explore who may be a good fit for them.
For example, an auto body repair shop may consider doing work on boats as well. While there are some differences, similarities may make it feasible.
Creating strategic partnerships with “should niches” is an effective growth strategy. A shoulder niche is an industry that has common threads without much overlap. An example of this is a dog kennel and a veterinarian.
Forming these partnerships allows both businesses to expand their reach quickly. But, of course, you must make sure that any company you partner with aligns with your brand, target audience, and goals.
Become a Supplier or a Distributor
Many small businesses rely on suppliers to provide parts or services. For example, you may own a furniture store and rely on a third-party shipping company to deliver your good. But what if you bought a truck and started making your deliveries?
This strategy would reduce expenses while bringing in extra revenue from delivery fees.
Likewise, distributors may help you get new customers.
For instance, you may be a flooring installer and get customers from a local store. However, you could decide to start selling the flooring yourself. This shift in your business plan would make you a distributor and installer.
While these can be lucrative growth strategies, they can also damage existing relationships. So, think this through before you decide to implement any of these ideas.
Strengthen Your Value Proposition
Having a unique value positioning statement (or UVP) is nice, but it won’t convince anyone to buy from you. Positioning statements are more important for the business than customers.
Instead of telling them, show your customers why they should buy. But, of course, this is easier said than done.
So, how do you show people you’re the best choice?
Lean on your brand, communicate consistently, and demonstrate your expertise. Prepare case studies or other research that support the quality of your product.
For physical products, exceptional performance often determines quality. Product performance includes, but isn’t limited to, the manufacturing process, how long it lasts, and whether it is free from errors or glitches.
For services, there is a link between quality and expertise. The better you are at what you do, the more people will pay you for it. But it’s up to you to educate them on the value you offer and how you provide it.
Make It Personal
In an era of automation, providing “high touch” service is a unique differentiator. Many businesses are automating customer service processes and responses to increase efficiency. While this helps the company, it turns customers off.
Move conversations from texts and emails to video or phone conferences as soon as possible. Be careful not to rush people into this, but extend the offer right away, always willing to move at their pace.
Provide a Free Trail
This strategy is simple: give away a tiny part of your product or service for free. Then, when customers discover how great it is, they will want more.
Give your customers an incentive to promote your product or service to a friend.
For example, you could give them a 10% discount when they buy if they sign up someone else for a free trial.
Get Social Proof
Reviews have become a powerful source of reference. For example, when you want to buy something, you probably look at how many reviews it has and its rating.
The product with the most ratings and stars often gets the sale.
But as important as reviews are, most businesses aren’t proactive about getting them.
Here are some tips to help you get more reviews:
- Collect emails during billing and follow up in a week to ask for an honest review.
- If you have a store, hand out brochures or cards that include a link to your review page.
- Make it a habit to mention it at every opportunity.
- Put review reminders on your website.
- Use social media to ask for reviews.
- Respond to all reviews, positive or negative.
Before you move forward with any growth strategy:
- Make sure it aligns with your brand.
- Consider your resources, capabilities, and target audience too.
- Execute one step at a time and avoid taking on too much at once.
If you have any questions, email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,