Your business has reached its first birthday. The first twelve months have thrown lots of different challenges at you. Challenges many of which you did not expect. So, what’s the best way to take your company forward? With growth marketing.
The first twelve months are important in business for a number of different reasons.
While you remain an expert at what you originally went into business to sell, you’ve had your first experiences of many of the other things connected with running a company, like:
- registering with and dealing with government and tax raising departments,
- getting your first batches of customers signed up,
- learning how cash flow and profit & loss works via (client name) and your account manager,
- customer service and how to deal with a client when something goes wrong, and
- general multi-tasking so your firm runs more efficiently and looks more professional to outsiders.
Whether you’ve made a profit or a loss in your first year, you now know just what your business will demand from you professionally and personally – you’ve had time to get used to it.
For the next stage of your development, your focus should be on getting your company to work for you better.
In this article, we’re going to look at creating and executing a growth marketing campaign, including –
- who are your customers and why do they need a service like yours?
- who else is competing for your customers?
- what do you have that’s different and better?
- how do you reach out to them?
- how can you get and keep their attention – standard growth marketing approaches?
- how do you set your pricing?
- how do you structure your customer service?
- giving them a reason to buy from you
- giving them a reason to come back to you
- the importance of getting out there and selling
Who are your customers and why do they need a service like yours?
As you will have discovered so far in business, people come to you when they need your expert advice, knowledge, and skills to solve a problem they can’t rectify themselves.
Let’s think about a web design business.
Why are websites they produce so important to companies these days?
- Nearly everyone now goes onto the internet to check a company and its credentials out.
- Many of us will not buy from a business if they don’t have a website or their website looks out of date.
- With 80% of all web traffic now coming from mobile phones, “responsive designs” are a must (they are the types of websites which alter appearance depending on the type of device the site is being viewed on)
- Many people find out about a company through their social media presence
- Businesses know that the higher they are ranked with Google, the better chance they have of getting enquiries
If you’re a web designer, from those statements, you can already identify a number of market segments you can target, namely:
- Companies whose websites may not have been updated for years and whose line-up of products and services (and their prices and descriptions) are no longer relevant
- Companies whose websites look “wrong” on mobile phones because they are not responsive
- Companies are missing out on business because Google doesn’t list them highly in their search rankings
- Companies who don’t have a social media profile
- Companies whose social media profiles are not targeted and updated enough.
Those are five powerful reasons why any company would want to hire a web designer who can get them highly ranked on Google, produce a beautiful, responsive website with great wording, and get to grips with their social media presence.
Those are your customers.
Always make sure that you’re absolutely clear in your own mind the distinct advantages you can offer your customer because it is upon that knowledge that everything else you do is based.
Look at your business.
Think of as many reasons as you can about why what you offer is important to your customers.
Be clear in your own mind about why not having the advantages that your company will definitely bring to a client will adversely affect their business or their life.
Who else is competing for your customers?
Your company will be in competition for customers against lots of other companies.
It’s important to take the time and effort to get to know them as well as you can because it’s very likely that, when you’re quoting for work, you’ll come up against them.
There are two areas of analysis you should undertake:
- do they do a better job of communicating their abilities than you? and
- what problems can they help customers solve?
First, go through their websites thoroughly. Be as honest with yourself as possible when doing this. Make a list about what on their website is better explained and sold than on your website.
- What is their service offering and what do they offer that you don’t?
- Do they describe the reasons a customer should use them really well?
- Do they have a regularly updated blog?
- Do they have case studies or a portfolio showing their work with customers?
- Is their site easy to navigate?
- Do they put a call-to-action (i.e. ask customers to get in touch with them) on every page?
- Do they make their contact details prominent and is it easy to get in touch with them?
Try to find other examples of their marketing communications.
What is it that you like about the examples you find? What do they put across better than you do?
When you have done all of this, make it a priority to make your website and your other marketing communications just as good, if not better, then theirs.
While you’re doing this, you will almost certainly have come across services your competitors are offering to clients that you’re not offering.
You should analyse how important these other services are.
What would your clients be missing out on if you don’t have the other services your competitors offered?
If they’d be missing out on a lot and you judge that you need to replicate in your business the additional services your competitors offer, can you do this in-house?
Or do you know of someone who you trust and you can sub-contract the work to?
If not, you can pick up many good freelancers on websites like PeoplePerHour with whom you can develop an ongoing and mutually-profitable relationship.
What do you have that’s different and better?
Your first reaction to this question may be “price” – and you might have a point.
But you’re almost certainly overlooking the one thing that is different and better – you and the skills of your team.
Every company is different.
It’s got a unique set of owners and directors in charge.
If you have a team, they’ll all have unique work experience histories. It’s here where you can find another edge.
Let’s say that, before you launched your web design company, you were a branch manager at an estate agency.
You worked for a number of years in the business and you know a lot about the local property market and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the local agents.
Instead of offering websites to clients, be in the business of offering bespoke websites and online marketing solutions to residential and commercial estate agents in your local area.
Put together a persuasive, believable, and deliverable product description for your specialist estate agent service. Be sure to clarify in detail the benefits of each feature your service offers.
Do the same for your fellow directors and your colleagues.
Examine everyone’s pasts, get their opinions on how each marketplace operates, and, using all of that, put together products that someone in that marketplace can really see the value of.
By all means, keep your core offering and don’t change the business completely to specialise.
Whatever business you find in your new niche markets you could equally lose in more generic markets if you don’t let people know about your everyday services.
Within your business is a real, definable, and distinct set of knowledge, skills, and insight that none of your competitors will have.
Best of all, when you’re out there meeting potential clients, your history in their line of business will come through in the way you communicate with them.
Using growth marketing to reach potential customers
Now is the time to start putting everything you’ve developed from this article into action.
By now, you should have…
- changed your website & marketing materials so that the description of your core services are as good if not better than your competitors,
- if you felt at a real disadvantage with a competitor because of an additional service s/he offered, you’ve added that to your portfolio (and found a trusted, reliable supplier to expedite the work if you don’t have the skill yourself),
- built up a specific set of specialist and highly-targeted niche services based upon your own knowledge, experience, and insights of a specific market segment and done the same based upon the knowledge, experience, and insights of your fellow directors and colleagues.
You now need to decide how you’re going to reach your generic and niche customers to let them know about your company.
For small businesses, there are five main types of growth marketing you can employ – direct, networking, exhibiting, trade/niche, and blanket.
Direct marketing is a form of advertising where you choose who will see or hear your adverts. Growth marketing by direct marketing includes email marketing, postal marketing and telephone marketing.
You can buy lists of targets from list owners or list brokers.
These companies will, following your guidance, help you select the types of businesses or consumers most likely to want to buy your service or product.
More Than Words note – we are an established list broker offering the following marketing databases – a UK business database, a UK schools database, and a UK public sector database. Depending on the type of direct marketing you want to do, we offer email databases, mailing lists (for postal campaigns), and a telemarketing database. Ask us about our growth marketnig services.
If ordering from a list owner or list broker, always make sure that you get a guarantee from them that their list is GDPR compliant.
GDPR is data protection legislation became law in May 2018 and it’s very important that your marketing ticks all GDPR’s many boxes.
You are likely to incur additional costs if you choose direct marketing.
For email and postal marketing, you may have to use the services of outside companies to get your advertising delivered to your chosen recipients.
You may need help with the design and copy writing of your advertising also (as well as printing).
For telephone marketing, unless you or a staff member do it yourself, you may wish to hire a telesales person to work for you in-house or you can alternatively choose to use an outsourced telemarketing agency to contact customers for you.
Make sure that if you’re calling businesses, they are not on the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) opt-out list. For consumers, check that any number you dial is not registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
Networking involves going to meetings where you’ll encounter fellow business people based locally to you. At these get-togethers, you can swap business cards, introduce yourself, and share information with fellow attendees.
Many businesspeople find networking events very useful however many others say it is difficult to get the balance between listening and speaking correct, particularly those who do not come from a sales-orientated background.
Many networking professionals go to the same events time and time again which gives them (and you) the chance to build a relationship after multiple conversations.
You will normally pay a membership fee to join a networking club and some will also ask you to pay an admission fee for each event you go to.
Exhibiting can be taking out a stand at a trade fair, an expo or even a market stall.
Trade fairs tend to be targeted to specific sectors.
For example, the yearly Marketing Week Live! Exhibition in London is a trade fair for marketing and data companies to show their wares off.
The type of attendee invited will be the type of company representative who will play an important part in the decision-making process for purchasing marketing and data services.
Search the internet for trade fairs related to your line of business.
Look to see who the other trade fair exhibitors are, who the invited attendees will be, and then it’s a judgement call on your part whether this is the right platform for your business.
Expos tend to be more focused on geography.
Think of a wedding expo/fair or a business expo/fair, for example.
There are hundreds of these held around the country every month.
They can be very useful ways to connect with your target audience.
As with the trade fairs, make sure you look at who else will be exhibiting and who will be attending to assess an expo’s relevance to your line of business.
Trade fairs and exhibit costs can run into thousands of pounds.
Make sure you control your costs as much as you can if you wish to approach new customers in these ways.
For business-to-consumer companies planning growth marketing, market stalls can offer valuable exposure to thousands of consumers for the rental cost of a stall and the costs associated with decking it out professionally (display stands, leaflets, and so on).
Trade advertising normally involves advertising on of sponsoring of newsletters and websites linked to a specific industry or interest – think of it like targeting growth marketing.
For example, our web designer mentioned earlier in this article with a specialism in estate agent website design may choose to advertise or sponsor an estate agency trade magazine or website.
Alternatively, if you keep sell kits which allow people to keep and raise chickens at home, you may wish to align yourself by advertising or sponsorship a popular forum and news site for people interested in the hobby.
Blanket marketing is an anonymised form of contacting potential customers.
Blanket marketing can be national, local or, on platforms like Facebook, based upon personal characteristics (gender, income bracket, interests, and so on).
Blanket marketing includes newspaper adverts, leaflet drops, advertising on Google and Facebook, radio and television advertising, and so on.
The method you chose to advertise will hit some of the people or companies which might want to buy from you, however your advert will also be seen by many more people who have no interest in it at all.
Growth marketing vs digital marketing
Don’t forget that clients are moving online and you need to include inbound marketing (sometimes called content marketing) in your growth marketing strategy.
You can find out more about copywriting, social media marketing, website copywriting, blogging, and more at our sister site.
How can you get and keep customers attention with your growth marketing?
By using one or more of the forms of advertising mentioned above, your advert is almost certain to be seen by members of your target audience.
Always remember that there are three types of recipients of advertising, regardless of whether you’re selling web designs, chicken runs, or management consulting services.
- people who are interested in what you sell and they have a need for what you sell right now or in the very near future,
- people who are interested in what you sell but they do not have a foreseeable need for what you’re selling, and
- people who have no interest at all in what you sell and will never have an interest
The best type of marketing only focuses on the people who are interested in what you sell where they have a need for what you sell right now or in the very near future.
Earlier in this piece, you identified two types of customers – those interested in your specialist services and those interested in your generic services.
For all types of potential customers, we analysed why they might need your service, the problem it would solve, and the money they would either make or save by using your company.
Make your advertising as specific as possible, mentioning all the benefits you will bring to a company.
Mention your expertise, your track record and, if you have testimonials or case studies showing how a customer benefited from working with you, be sure to mention that.
Do not waste your time, energy, or money trying to appeal to someone who is not interested in what you sell and never will be, or to those who buy what you sell but don’t need to make another purchase for a long time.
There is nothing you can do or say to either bring their interest forward or to make them interested in something they have no interest in and will never be interested in.
Once you have their attention, get all their contact details, including:
- position within the company
- company name
- what are the names and positions of the people within the company who would be involved in the decision-making process to buy what you sell?
- their email addresses
- their telephone number
- jot down any and all details of your conversation with them so when you approach them again, they believe that you’ve paid real attention to them when you met.
If you’re selling B2B and/or a high-ticket item, if possible, try to arrange an appointment to see them either at their premises or get them to visit yours.
Try to make the appointment date as close as possible remembering the well-worn sales cliché, “if it gets old, it goes cold.”
Before you finish speaking, be sure to give them your business card and any literature you have that matches as closely as possible what you perceive they will want to buy from you.
How do you set your pricing?
How you set your pricing is one of the hardest decisions any business has to make.
If you offer bespoke services, services specifically tailored to meet the needs of an individual customer, it may make sense for you to charge a premium price.
This is particularly so when, because of what you offer, there may not be that many customers to target and you may be one of the few to possess the expertise to carry it out successfully.
Look at your strategy so far.
How many customers can you expect to pick up in a given month or quarter?
How hard is it to find these clients and win their business if they are already with a competitor?
Could you imagine a situation where you’ll run out of people or companies to approach?
If you want to grab market share, discounting is one possible way to go.
However, there is not a correlation between customers and price.
For example, if you have been selling something at £1,000 and you find 10 customers a month to pay for it, you’ll not necessarily find 20 customers if you drop your price to £500.
If you drop your price and therefore your profit margin, can you survive on what’s left, even if you sold double?
Could you cope with having to provide customer and after-sales service to twice as many customers?
Would all that post-sale running around deprive you of time to make the additional sales you need to keep your head above water?
If you’re in fierce competition against other companies and there is an abundance of customers where the after-care demands aren’t that high, economy pricing is a way to gain market share and profits.
Beware though as any new companies entering your market will see your business and those of your competitors as a direct threat.
A new entrant may spark a price war and if a war of attrition does result, are your pockets deep enough to survive it?
Remember that it’s always far more expensive in most lines of business to find new customers than it is to encourage existing customers to buy again.
Every business should try to structure its proposition around the lifetime value of the customer – that is, how much will a customer spend with you in all the time they choose to be your customer.
Pricing to grab market share and economy pricing can make a lot of sense if your business is built around selling to the same customers time and time again.
If your business model is based around premium pricing, customer retention can make a lucrative business even more rewarding.
Pricing is not the be-all and end-all.
People buy people first before they buy on cost.
And it’s your customer’s relationship with you and your staff that determine the next big factor – customer service.
How do you structure your customer service?
One thing the internet has changed is the power of the voice it gives to customers who are happy with you or not happy with you.
If a customer is left unhappy with your service, product, or after-sales, all they have to do is log onto the internet and tell the world all about it.
And because of the way search engines work, a bad review will nearly always find its way onto the first page of search results when someone is trying to find out more about your company.
The best advice here is never give someone cause to complain.
You can’t keep all of the people happy all of the time but you can give them the outlet of venting their disappointment towards you first before they go online.
Stay in touch with your customers during the time you’re doing the major part of your work with them.
Always ask how things are going.
Are they happy?
Is this the result they want?
What needs to happen to get this project to 100% satisfaction for you?
After the bulk of the project is finished, call them up every two weeks for a couple of months thereafter to see if any remedial work needs doing.
Include them on your fortnightly email newsletter so they’re always up to date with what’s happening in the business.
Try to make sure that your customer is never forgotten when you’ve got the money and the work has been done.
Stress to the customer during the sales process how they can expect to be looked after and what consequences there will be if your company fails to perform to its agreed service level.
Give them a reason to buy from you with your growth marketing campaigns
Earlier on, we described the three classifications of people who would see your growth marketing campaigns.
We advised that all of your adverts and all of your focus be centred only on those people or companies who are interested in what you sell where they have a need for what you sell right now or in the very near future.
If you know they might be ready to buy, assume that your competitors know this too.
If they are ready to buy now or in a short space of time, give yourself every advantage you can think of to win the business and to get them to make the decision quickly or straight away in your favour.
Try to reach terms you both agree on about:
- how and when you’re going to get paid
- the exact scope of the work you’ll be doing for them
- goals for each part of the work (that is, what the customer can expect from an individual feature once you’ve done a particular part of the job for them)
- who is going to project manage the work?
Once that is all agreed, if they have not said “yes, I’ll have it now” but they have said something like “yes, I’ll be ready to move on that in a couple of months’ time”, give them a reason to buy from you now such as…
- offer an additional, never-before-mentioned extra which helps the customer at zero or reduced cost to you
- offer to take a 10% deposit immediately so you can start the preliminary work on it now, then take another 20% when the job starts.
- drop the price but on condition they sign up now
Once they have given you their commitment by shaking your hand, signing your order form, and giving you a deposit, you’ve won the business.
You have to let your customer feel as if they are walking away with something worthwhile to move their timescales to suit yours.
Using growth marketing to give clients a reason to come back to you
We talked earlier in this article about the value of keeping in touch with customers after the initial sale.
One way we mentioned was a fortnightly email newsletter – a much underestimated grwoth marketing technique.
Every time you write one, give your customer some interesting piece of information about the marketplace or something that their competitor is doing.
Tell your customers about new products you’re bringing out or temporary discounts on services you already offer only but the discount is for existing customers only.
Give yourself a reason to be interesting to the customer.
Let them feel that, by knowing you and by working with you, that they are more likely to hear information beneficial to them because they are still your customer.
No matter how you price your initial sale, staying in touch with a customer who feels part of something and genuinely looked after is a key to boosting your sales now and in the future.
Use growth marketing to spread your company’s wings
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?
That states that 20% of your customers bring you 80% of your revenue.
Companies with high-ticket, bespoke products and services are likely to find themselves with a similar customer profile.
The average business in the UK makes 8% net margin before corporate tax.
So, if one of your customer’s accounts for more than 8% of your turnover, the loss of their business could wipe out all of your profits.
Keep on marketing.
Keep on advertising.
Keep on selling.
Try to find ways to reach new customers and keep them buying from you.
Our team is on hand to help you with all aspects of growth marketing.
Remember, our founders have all run and grown small businesses in the past so we realise the many questions you must have about making your business work better for you.
A great government resource on growing your business is here. But please do call your account manager as that’s some of the best, most informed, and most constructive help you can get.
To speak with one of our team about growth marketing, please call us on 0330 010 8300 or click here to email our direct marketing team.