Key Business Strategies for Growing your Company
So you’ve decided that 2014 is the year to grow your business. This is the year things are going to happen and take off. You’ve been watching the business news on television and the stories are starting to get more positive. More companies are reporting on success stories nationwide and are expanding their businesses. You might even know of a business colleague who is powering full steam ahead and has grown their bottom line by 40% in the last year. Something must be changing and the business environment must be taking a turn for the better. It’s about time you might say and now is the opportunity to put a plan in place and start making things happen for yourself. Where do you start? Here are some areas to consider and ways to start improving your business straight away.
- Take Stock of where your business is at! List out your goals for your business and what you aim to achieve in the coming year. Make your targets ambitious but achievable. Has there been areas that you have been putting off developing or a new business strategy you wanted to try? Don’t put them off any longer. Take some action now and create a roadmap to follow. The clearer your vision and what you want to achieve, the easier it is to map out how that can be done. To use a well-known poker adage is it time to check, raise or fold?
- How is your top salesman doing these days? We’re not talking about you’re on the road sales rep banging on doors for you, we’re referring to your true top salesman your website. A company’s website is its shop window and should be looking its best at all times. Make sure your website looks attractive and inviting to visitors just like a retailer would for their customers.It must be easy for potential customers to find the details they are looking for. Peoples attention span is low these days and they won’t wait around long to search for what they are seeking. It should contain all the trending social media links and should also contain some interactive content like personalised or industry videos, video testimonials, if possible, and a clear and instant definition of what your company does along with a clear path to making contact with your business. It sounds obvious but make your phone numbers and contact details clearly visible and prominent at the top on your homepage. Also have a contact form and not just an email address. You’d be amazed at the difference a simple call to action can make to your enquiry levels.
- Do you know where customers go to get their information? One of the simplest and best pieces of advice you can receive is to be where your customers go. There are always a limited amount of places that potential customers search so be there for them when they arrive. If a business is listed at every turn the customer will perceive it as being an important industry player. If you’re not visible then they can’t find you and will go with a competitor instead. Find out and then you will know where the best places to be visible are. Examples could be industry directory listings, facebook, linked in, twitter, donedeal.ie, adverts.ie, boards.ie, local newspapers, events, seminars, industry magazines, networking or trade fairs. Be visible for your potential customers and then many will become customers.
- Dispel any negative myths starting now! Many small business owners discourage themselves from trying new strategies. They even stunt their own business potential by thinking too small or playing it safe all the time. Sometimes business professionals and marketers need to step out of their comfort zone and try something different. Maybe your business has never tried a google adwords campaign or took the plunge on a newer online adverting platform like linked in. A business doesn’t need a massive marketing budget to grow. Any marketing campaign can be set at a modest level and tracked efficiently to gauge the return. Start off small but aim big. If a strategy is working well then expand on it. Don’t sit back and say “that worked great” and leave it at that. Push the boat out a bit further. Growth on a step by step basis is fine as long as it’s growing.
- Don’t give up just because something didn’t work in the past? Sometimes it’s not possible to know in advance how a campaign is going to work out. Perhaps the timing was wrong or it was a starter campaign that needs to be tweaked. In the long run you will learn more from your mistakes than your successes. The more outside the box and innovative the idea, the greater the unknowns. Don’t get discouraged when you try something and it doesn’t give immediate returns. We had a client who had signed up for an industry portal website advertising campaign come back to us six weeks into the campaign to say it wasn’t working. When asked why he said “Ive only had four new clients since I signed up. I thought I’d have 20 by now”. Would he have had the four new clients if he didn’t signed up? Probably not. In many cases that is what happens and success comes in the form of a drip effect as opposed to the flood gates opening. For small businesses the trick is to get many taps dripping to fill the sink rather than expecting a tidal wave which rarely, if ever, comes.
- Keep your marketing campaigns updated. Make sure you are up to date in terms of modern marketing techniques and the variety of online marketing tools available. Every marketer at times can get complacent and fall into a zone of comfort doing the things that they are familiar with. There are a variety of different marketing tools now available to help the modern small business including: constant contact (a direct email marketing tool), hootsuite (for accessing good online media content), linked in (for business to business connections), raventools (online marketing content), slideshare (sharing online presentations), google calendar (linking key personnel to events). There are also the favourites which are often overlooked in day to day use like google analytics (see where traffic coming from), youtube (should be used by every business) and facebook (not just about posting but creating connections). Make them all work for you and bit by bit, post by post you will see succeed.
- Don’t forget about a marketing mix. Many professional advisors and marketing experts will tell you that the momentum is moving more and more towards online marketing. Whilst that is true to a large extent, with online growth expanding significantly year on year, don’t forget about the tried and tested traditional methods which can still hold great value for your business. In many cases offline strategies can be low cost and generally involve a time contribution rather than significant capital costs. Areas not to be overlooked include: referral marketing, customer loyalty campaigns, branding, networking, trade fairs, direct marketing, strategic alliances, promotions, advertising & public relations. Modern marketers call these the “don’t forget me” areas and should not be overlooked. Significant benefit can still be gained by traditional old school marketing campaigns and many can be extremely cost efficient and rewarding when done properly.
Let’s Finish with a Case Study (a successful client campaign)
In 2010 one of our clients approached Avid Partners about setting up their own business. They had many years’ experience in a highly competitive and price sensitive sector of the events business and wanted to stay in that space. Avid Partners advised the client of the best approach he should take and how best to structure his new business. Here is how things panned out.
- A marketing and business development plan was devised for the business mapping out a path for growth in the first 3 years.
- The marketing campaigns implemented revolved around both high visibility strategies for making an impact straight away and growth strategies for the future.
- Specific campaigns were budgeted for an implemented in the areas of google adwords, facebook advertising, trade fairs exhibiting, referral marketing campaigns, strategic alliances, online directory advertising, placement ads, industry magazine ads and staged promotions.
- With a marketing budget of €13,400 the business grew from a standing start to over €154,000 in year one and with a similar budget over €193,000 in year two. 2014 is year three for the business and it is on target to achieve its target of €250,000 in revenue for the year.
Not bad for a sole trader business operating on limited resources. If you’re prepared to put in the time it takes to make the most of each campaign your business can be successful. The real investment required is always time and money.
About Avid Partners Marketing & Business Development
Avid Partners offer a number of marketing and business development programmes designed to help our clients grow their business through targeted marketing and sales strategies. We use many of these techniques ourselves to expand our reach to target new business and growth and are expertly placed to provide similar guidance and advice to clients. Avid Partners grow as you grow so your best interests are also theirs. Here are some of Avid Partners services and products in the marketing field for you to have a look at and see which is best for you to suit your immediate and longer term needs:
- Marketing & Business Development Plan – A clear vision and moving in the right direction!
- Marketing Health Check – What are you currently doing? How can it be improved?
- Digital Marketing & Online Presence – Standing out on the web!
- Website Development & Growing Traffic – Look after your Star Salesman, your website!
- Marketing for Small Businesses on a Budget – Making your time work for you?
- Feasibility Studies & Project Viability – On the rapids or swimming against the tide?
- Market Research – Thinking of launching a new product/service or an industry analysis?