As both a business owner and a marketer, I am often asked for some ‘practical tips to grow your business’, in other words, some type of business growth plan. We live in a confusing age where we are overwhelmed by information. If you are in business, no doubt your social media feeds are littered with ideas to help you take things to another level. But where to begin?
When business owners see things online that they have an inkling may help increase profits, they tend to immediately jump to these sorts of questions, all with a profit focus:
- How much can you believe?
- Which is the right move to make first?
- Is it worth spending the money?
- Will I get a decent return on my investment?
- How do I make it happen?
- Will I be given the knowledge I need to implement the strategy successfully?
If you jump straight into focussing on the bottom line, you have skipped some vital but straightforward, MUST FOLLOW steps.
- Take a breath
- Brainstorm with a trusted, neutral party
- Choose one focus
- Spend money to make money
- Keep listening
Seriously, stop for a minute. How can you possibly make a quick decision about something which can have a serious impact on your business? The first thing you need to do is to look at your diary, carve out 2-3 hours where you will not be disturbed (that means no emails or calls) to take a look at your business.
Re-read your definition, mission, vision and values statements. Have a quick look at any personas you developed for your key target audiences. Then think about your audience and whether you need new methods to reach them? Is increasing profit margins a better focus? Should you focus on creating additional products to sell to existing clients? Do you need new products or services to broaden the base for selling your core offer?
You need to answer these fundamentals calmly before you allow yourself to be ‘sold to’ by anyone or any product or service.
TIP 2: Brainstorm with a trusted, neutral party
Critical business decisions, especially when you are creating a business growth plan, often needs someone less involved in the day-to-day to be a confidant. It is best to choose someone who will be able to quickly understand your business and be able to offer some valuable independent insights. Brainstorm any options you can think of which may have some potential. You don’t need lots of details; you want to throw options into the mix. Worrying about the practicalities of them is not for now.
If you don’t have someone you can ask as a favour, consider paying for an expert. Remember, and I say this fully aware of my bias, you are better off with a marketer. The simple reason is, at this point any decision you will come back down to being able to engage with existing and potential audiences successfully.
You want a creative thinker, who will bring a different mindset to the table. Look at all the options you can come up with, don’t just be led by the bright lights of an offer which you found yourself clicking on because it was in a social media feed.
It is so easy to find yourself pursuing multiple opportunities. You don’t need me to say this, but I will anyway, don’t spread yourself too thin. At the end of the brainstorming session, you want to have a top three ideas to consider.
Go away and learn about each of the options. Find multiple providers who can deliver the same or similar idea.
Next, you need to choose the one which speaks to you the most. What is the most potent marketing idea? Remember your goal here is to grow an existing business, so marketing is the focus.
Go back to your independent expert for another quick session go through your favoured idea and what you have discovered.
TIP 4: Spend money to make money
Whatever you choose will cost you money. If you think implementing it yourself or through existing resources is ‘free’ then you are mistaken. Unless you are paying people to sit around and do nothing, giving yourself or them a new task, takes away from the work they should be doing. It will cost you money.
You can’t go into any marketing idea and think it will be effective without spending money. You need to be prepared to invest. Yes, you need to do this wisely and in good faith that you will see a return on your investment. However, you also need to be prepared to lose your investment and not let it scare you from trying the next thing.
No marketing is ever a certainty, and no business will exist without marketing.
The most practical tip to grow your business is to listen. Find out what your audience wants? What are they saying about our brand? What are they saying about the things which matter to them generally? practical tips 2
The world is changing at a rapid rate, so what your audiences I saying today will change tomorrow. Even the most conservatives industries and audiences are subject to new trends and influences.
The growth of your business will be dependent ultimately on what people say about your brand, how they respond to new and existing products and services and you respond to their feedback.
Your business will grow if you go on a journey with your audience and you manage your brand appropriately, by staying tuned to those whose needs you fulfil.