We're coming up on 2020. Do you have a plan for growing your business next year?
Are you actively working on it?
If your answers to the above were not all "yes", don't worry! That's why you're here. You don't necessarily need a marketer to do marketing, and not all marketers do the same type of marketing. But it is helpful to understand some of the basics so you can look at your business and your plan with a refreshed and focused set of eyes.
Let's take a look.
When you think about marketing, what comes to mind? Advertisements are probably one of the first things, whether they are in print, tv, radio, or another medium. That is a good thought, although advertising is only a piece of the marketing puzzle. There is also:
Traditional marketing includes some tried and true methods such as print and broadcast advertising, direct mail, and telemarketing. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these categories, but if you don’t have a large wallet then it is hard to get started at all, much less stand out. That’s how growth hacking came to be.
Growth hacking combines modern technology and innovative thinking to take advantage of the scalability and connectivity available today, often focused on driving more users of a product or service. While the term hacking may have a negative connotation, the tools and thinking that go into good growth hacking are no doubt valuable to marketing and businesses. But what if we can take a step back, and apply that growth-driven methodology to the business as a whole?
Enter Growth Marketing. Growth marketing combines the fundamentals of traditional marketing with the innovation of growth hacking, and applies a holistic approach to business growth. By focusing on the entire business instead of just more leads, marketing comes full circle and aligns with not only the tactical needs of the business, but also the high-level goals.
Not just customers, but happy and engaged customers.
Not just growth, but sustainable growth.
Not just numbers, but a forward-driven mission.
There are some fundamentals that apply to every business. How they look may differ, how tactics are applied may differ, and final effects may differ. But the fundamentals remain the same.
How do you find potential customers? Do you have a good understanding of what your ideal customers look like? How do people find you?
If those questions make you uncomfortable, good. Even if your business is a well-oiled machine, these are questions you want to keep asking yourself. Goals change, people change, and communication methods change. Refreshing your thinking about who you are targeting, how you are targeting them, and what methods you are giving them to find you are key to a sustainable business.
How do people learn about you? Are they told about you by your previous customers? Do they find your website? Are your employees making phone calls? What are you doing to ensure a strong first impression?
We only get one first impression. The better you make it, the easier and more productive the rest of the relationship will be. Sure, you can recover from a poor first impression. But you could spend that energy making new first impressions instead of fixing bad ones.
Do you follow up with potential customers? How often do people return to your website? Are you able to reach out when someone takes a particular action?
Bringing people back and following up is a key part of the process. If people aren’t coming back, you’re not giving them a reason to do so. And if you’re not following up, you’re losing out on many potential customers who just need you to reach out.
What part of your product or service makes money for you? What makes you the most money? Are you charging enough?
We often get caught up in price competition and doing whatever everyone else is doing. By taking time to focus on what drives revenue, making sure we are able to do more of that, and highlighting what makes us unique, you can make dramatic changes to your bottom line.
Are you getting new customers referred by your previous customers? Are your employees advocating for your business in every interaction with a customer? Do your customers know how to refer others to you?
Referrals are the lifeblood of most businesses. Mentioning, sharing, and introducing others to new things are common place in everyday life. It is important to make the referral process easy, as well as giving people a good reason. Sure, having great service helps. But a little encouragement can turn a happy customer into new business generator.
Improving any of these metrics will help grow your business. So how do we influence those areas?
What is your product? Don’t think you have one? Well you do. Whether it’s a physical good, digital good, service, or your company, it’s all part of your product. And you must have a well designed product to have continual business growth.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, and it never will be. But as long as it’s good enough, and you iterate to make it better, then you will have a well-designed product.
A user is someone who uses a service. While user is a common term in software, it applies to all of our clients and customers now. Whatever contact they have with you, and whatever steps they take to end up as a customer, they are users of your process and have an experience as they interact with you.
So how do you make that experience engaging? How do you make sure you give users a good first impression, so good that they want to come back? And then keep coming back, developing a long-term beneficial relationship?
You build an engaging user experience. Target the right people. Give them value. And give them a reason to expect more value. And delight them at every step.
Regardless of what our product or service is, there is one way we can all provide value to our audience: content. Content comes in many forms: text, audio, video, and (arguably) product. You’ll need to decide what form(s) best fits your audience.
Start with whatever allows you to create frequently and consistently. Maybe that’s video, especially if you have a quality smartphone. You don’t have to have a professional production. You just need to start and have it be yours.
Regardless of the format you use originally, you can convert to another to hit a broader target. As long as you maintain a standard of quality. The more quality content you provide, the higher your perceived expertise.
We live in a glorious time for automation. But automation on its own can be dangerous. You have to balance technology with a human hand if you want to maintain your credibility and reputation.
Do your customers ask a number of common questions? Is there a general process they go through during your service? A chat bot may be a great way to reduce man hours on your end while improving response time for them.
Email marketing is a common use of automation. But even that requires planning, writing, proof-reading, and regular review to maintain quality and value to customers. Use automation to improve your business and be available when you may not be.
Where do your potential customers spend their time? Facebook? LinkedIn? At their mailbox? Conferences and events? Whether digital or physical, you need to know your audience and know the best way to reach them.
Whatever format you use for your content, you can bring that to your audience in their channel. Blogging, social media, public speaking, direct mail. You may need to be creative, especially if you’re using a mainstream channel. Give your audience value where they can engage with it, and you will build a community.
Why is your personal growth necessary for the growth of your business? It isn’t. But it will make growing more fulfilling. And you’ll create more value than you would otherwise.
When you prioritize your personal growth, your business will benefit. Even indirect growth can give you experience and ideas that can 2x or 10x your business.
Exposing yourself to new people and ideas will open bridges and opportunities you didn’t think possible. The more value you can create, the bigger community you can build, the greater improvement to the world you will bring. And at the end of the day, that’s the growth for which we are all striving.