Establishing your business took some careful calculating, sophisticated coordination, and a leap of faith. But now that you’re past the first few years of operations, you’re ready to take another leap and start expanding. The question is: how will you do it in a way that doesn’t compromise your brand or your company’s livelihood?
Businesses of all sizes face the constant dilemma of choosing and managing successful growth strategies. While some approaches take more time and investment than others, a few are relatively easy to pull off. Most involve utilizing resources and assets your company already has. When you’ve decided it’s time to expand, here are four simple strategies to try.
1. Sell to New Markets
If you’re finding limited growth opportunities for your products or services, it might be time to expand into new territories. This could involve targeting a new region or a different country altogether. Sometimes a neighboring state or nation is easier to expand into from a logistics perspective. Other times, areas where you’re already working with independent contractors and have a backstage presence make sense.
Freelancers you’ve been working with might be ready to play a larger and more permanent role in your business. You could convert a contractor into an employee to help launch existing products and services in new territories. Contractors you have established relationships with are already familiar with the market’s idiosyncrasies. Your business won’t have as steep of a learning curve. Plus, you won’t need to spend as much prep time searching for a local partner.
That said, the decision to sell existing products or services in a new market still comes with some risk. Rely on research and the firsthand knowledge of your company’s existing network to ensure there’s sufficient market opportunity. You’ll also want alignment between your brand’s messaging and the target demographic’s worldview and lifestyle.
2. Focus on Customer Retention and Referrals
Many companies try to gain new customers through incentives and promotions that end up contributing to loss. New customer incentives can even encourage frequent churn in highly competitive industries where products and services have become commodities. Think internet service providers and wireless carriers that offer rock-bottom deals or exclusive promos to new subscribers. While these savings may incentivize consumers to switch, they can also alienate existing, loyal customers. Longtime patrons may well become disgruntled and move on to a competitor that will reward their support.
Some companies are finally waking up to this fact by offering new and existing customers the same deals. This is one way to send the message that retaining clients is important to your business. Other methods include customer loyalty and referral programs, customer appreciation events and incentives, and personalized communication, outreach, and service.
Such tactics are well worth the effort, given that loyal customers tend to spend 57% more on products and services. A 5% increase in customer retention has been shown to boost profit by 25%. New customer acquisition is critical to growth, true, but you may be able to gain customers more effectively through prioritizing retention. Keep current customers happy and let them accomplish some of those new acquisitions for you through word of mouth.
3. Use Technology to Create a Sales Funnel
Whether your business operates 100% online, maintains physical locations, or uses a hybrid strategy, a sales funnel helps you grow. Sales funnels typically capture new leads and move them through the journey of becoming a customer. However, you can also use sales funnels to target existing clients and revive relationships with previous ones.
Websites, in-store interactions, and customer relationship management solutions create growth opportunities through the power of information. Online and in-person visits are ways to gather consumer data. But you can also use tech to determine how visitors interact with your site or store. Heat map technology will reveal which portions of your website consumers find most engaging. Ad tracking software can also determine whether certain online ads result in an in-store conversion.
Behavioral insights from CRM software are invaluable for retargeting and follow-up. These solutions can tell you why someone didn’t make a purchase and whether a consumer engaged with an email. You can use these insights to refine your approach with consumers and move them closer to a purchase.
Did someone abandon their cart because they weren’t sure the purchase would be secure? Or was it because they wanted to see if they could find a lower price? Reaching out to the person via email or text will zero in on the problem. Offering an incentive or matching a competitor’s price point may be all that’s needed. More complex objections, such as the perception of an unsafe website, could reveal the need for a design overhaul.
4. Network at Local Events
You might think it’s difficult for smaller businesses to get stage or booth presence at large industry events. While this can be the case, there may be local networking opportunities your company is missing out on. Check with your area’s chamber of commerce to see whether they hold business after hours or lunch-and-learn events.
Pitch them the idea of presenting information other business owners or community members might find useful and informative. You can highlight how your company helps others implement the information and tools you’re presenting. Some businesses also use these presentations as an opportunity to briefly show examples of previous work.
If speaking as an expert isn’t up your alley, you can still network at local events sponsored by professional organizations. Ask whether you can include information about your products in any event swag or publications the organization distributes.
Growing a company is important for long-term sustainability. But it may be challenging to figure out how to bring in new business without overextending your finances. Expanding on what you already have at your disposal can lead to the implementation of small-scale but effective strategies. By using approaches that rely on strengths like existing relationships, your business can lay the groundwork for a profitable future.
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