Marketing and the Four Ways to Grow. Part Two

4WAY-PT2

The second way to grow your business: Get your clients to buy more or more often.

For this growth model you’ll be talking to your existing customer base. That necessitates that you A) know your customers. And B) are able to reach out to them directly in as many ways as possible.

I’m always surprised by the number of our clients who don’t have an up-to-date database of customers. They have an intuitive understanding of who their customer is but couldn’t reach out to them tomorrow if they had to—at least not directly. If that describes your company, start updating your customer database today! You never know when breaking news or an emergency might demand a quick outreach.

 

Increasing transaction size and frequency is a communication issue

Survey your customers. Communication is a two-way street. Before you implement a reward program or start cross-selling, find out why they aren’t buying more or more often. Are they aware of your full line of products and services? Is it easy to do business with you? Are there services or products they wish you sold? Tally the survey results to learn what issues need to be addressed before you can achieve higher frequency and sales.

Reward them for frequency. Loyalty programs encourage customers to return. Rewards don’t have to be financial (discounts, cash back, purchase points, etc.) Consider VIP programs that provide early purchase opportunities, access to exclusive services, or guarantees. Your best customers want to be treated special.

Don’t be shy. The key to increasing sale size is selling more of what you offer. That’s only possible when the customer knows what you have. During the sales cycle, talk up the add-ons and cross-sell related services. And don’t stop marketing to them after the sale. Keep them informed about all you do. Let your best customers test new products for you, try your services on a trial basis or preview new programs. They’ll feel like VIPs and probably be your greatest advocates.

 

How marketing helps you increase purchases

There’s a reason it’s called “marketing communications.” Marketing is integral in every aspect of this communication-heavy growth model. A marketing professional can help you execute a successful survey and crunch the data it provides. They can help you build and manage a loyalty program and all the collateral that surrounds it. And they can help you develop effective sales programs that don’t end at the sale.

There is tremendous opportunity to growth if you can get your customers to buy more, and more often. The key is to talk to them, and let them talk to you.

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Marketing and the Four Ways to Grow. Part One

How marketing helps you with the four ways to grow a business

You may have heard it before, but there are only four ways to organically grow a business:

  • Get more (good) clients.
  • Get your clients to buy more. (More frequent or larger purchases)
  • Charge more for your services.
  • Cut the cost of operations.

In the next series of four blogs, I’ll look at how marketing is an essential part of each of those ways to grow.

 

The first way to grow your business: Get more [good] clients.

When revenue growth is a goal, the expectation is typically “more sales”. But if they aren’t the right kind of sale, “more sales” can actually work against your bottom line. The key is to find client prospects that both fit your business model and are profitable.

 

How to find the good ones.

Analyze your existing customer database. What makes your BEST customers so good? How would you recognize another one like them? Use those qualities to search for prospects that meet the profile and go after them specifically. It’s not about talking to thousands of prospects, its about talking to a hundred great ones.

Look at what you’re selling. Has it changed? Which customers are embracing the new offerings? Even if they aren’t currently your largest or most profitable customers, they may point to your best customers in the future.

Is your business evolving? Does your customer profile need to change to meet the anticipated new you? Envision your ideal future customer and look for ways to recognize them. Dive deeper than the obvious indicators like industry, size and geography to search for more subtle (and telling) markers such as corporate structure, industry involvement, community engagement, and brand reputation.

 

How marketing can help

Once you’ve identified the ideal client prospect, use direct marketing to reach out to them. Targeted marketing techniques exist in all media—print, web, email and even social media—so don’t limit yourself to one method. Customize and personalize the content as much as possible, using the language and syntax your prospect relates to.

Remember to build a number of touch points into your marketing program. It can take several attempts (research shows a minimum of nine!) to gain the attention of a new prospect. And don’t forget to follow up personally. Marketing can open doors, but the salesperson will need to walk through it.

We’ve all had clients that either suck the life out of us or cost way more than we make. The key to growth is to identify and acquire the clients that fit your business and your revenue model.

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When the customer is wrong.

ModelT

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” ― Henry Ford

 

Customer-led marketing strategies are great for developing improvements to existing products and services. But when you want to innovate, your current customers may not be the resource you need.

To create new markets, talk to noncustomers to determine why they aren’t buying from you. What is keeping them away? What are their “pain points?” What is their relationship with your industry overall? Are there opportunities to create new products to meet their unique needs?

The Harvard Business Review writes this about it:

Consider Sony’s launch of the Portable Reader System (PRS) in 2006. The company’s aim was to unlock a new market space in books by opening the e-reader market to a wide customer base. To figure out how to realize that goal, it looked to the experience of existing e-reader customers, who were dissatisfied with the size and poor display quality of current products. Sony’s response was a thin, lightweight device with an easy-to-read screen. Despite the media’s praise and happier customers, the PRS lost out to Amazon’s Kindle because it failed to attract the mass of noncustomers whose main reason for rejecting e-readers was the shortage of worthwhile books, not the size and the display of the devices. Without a rich choice of titles and an easy way to download them, the noncustomers stuck to print books.

Amazon understood this when it launched the Kindle in 2007, offering more than four times the number of e-titles available from the PRS and making them easily downloadable over Wi-Fi. Within six hours of their release, Kindles sold out, as print book customers rapidly became e-reader customers as well. Though Sony has since exited e-readers, the Kindle grew the industry from around a mere 2% of total book buyers in 2008 to 28% in 2014. It now offers more than 2.5 million e-titles.

As your company changes, your customers change with you. Anticipate and facilitate that transition by including noncustomers in your marketing communications plans.

 

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