Business Growth Tips – Our Top 15 of 2015
Relatively speaking, we (Responsive Media LLC) are a very new business. It’s from our own recent experiences that we know how difficult it can be to generate local or small business growth. It’s from those same experiences that we have gained some unique insights into small business growth strategies, and general business growth tips.
Here are our top 15 tips (plus a few more for those of you that make it to the end!)
Fifteen Business Growth Tips
1) Analyze Your Competition
We put this one first because it’s probably the most important of all our business growth tips. Everyone probably knows or has heard about the importance, for businesses of all sizes, of understanding the competition. Unfortunately – at least from our experience dealing with clients – it seems that most small businesses don’t take time to truly analyze the competition and assess their own strengths and weaknesses.
It’s important to notice what your competitors are doing right, and equally important to know what they’re doing wrong. In the process you’ll achieve a better understanding of what you’re doing right and wrong, and you’ll have the insights necessary to carve out your space in your local market.
2) Spend 3 Hours a Day Calling Potential Clients
If you run a small business that sells products or services to other businesses or organizational consumers, one of the best ways to incite growth is by hitting the phones a few hours each day.
Whether or not you’re converting on a good percentage of calls is almost irrelevant. You’ll still be spending that time connecting with business owners and community influencers who can help set you on the path to growth, while simultaneously increasing awareness of your small business.
It also never hurts to get more experience pitching your business, products, or services to potential clients or investors. And what could help you refine your pitch better than consistently spending time testing it with potential customers?
3) Experiment With Low-Cost Advertising
If you haven’t yet experimented with digital marketing for your business, now might be the time to do it. The internet has never been more popular, and there have never been more people searching for local businesses online. Advertising online through platforms like Facebook or Google can be cost-effective ways to generate business growth, increase local awareness, and sell products if you have them available online.
If you’re just now thinking about having a website built and have recently purchased website hosting, it’s likely that you have $100 or $50 credits for Google and Bing Ads available to you. Make use of those to get started and flesh out a strategy so that you get the most from your digital marketing budget.
4) Dedicate Time Each Day to Growing Your Business
This is somewhat similar to hitting the phones, but it’s a bit more broad. Setting aside an hour or two each day to make calls, meet with clients, refine your marketing plan, or look at areas where you can cut costs. It’ll help form a good habit of working on your business and not in it. And as we’ll mention again bit later, both being consistent and being sure to work on your business growth are essential.
5) Be Creative and Diversify
Being creative and diversifying aren’t the same thing, but they do go hand-in-hand. Look for ways to stand out from your competition (luckily you’ve already analyzed your competitors!). In some cases that might mean diversifying your service or product offerings, in others it might mean doing something that hasn’t been seen before.
For example, let’s say that every one of your competitors runs direct mail marketing campaigns. If you want to do the same but stand out, you need to be different. Adding a small item or token to envelopes that you send to potential clients, for example, might be helpful for increasing your open-rate and, subsequently, conversion rate.
6) Be Consistent
As we mentioned above, being consistent as an owner or manager is essential to creating growth in your business. That doesn’t mean you can consistently do the wrong things and be successful, of course. You need to be doing the things necessary to succeed on a daily basis, which will help foster good habits.
It’s equally important to ensure that your brand and marketing message are consistent or complementary across all media and platforms where your business is represented. Consistency will reinforce your marketing message and help your brand grow stronger as a result, and both will increase your business growth and growth potential.
7) Encourage and Utilize Experimentation
There’s a lot to be said for experimentation. We’d go so far as to say that it’s practically essential for business survival, let alone business growth! Experimentation can be both utilized and encouraged in a lot of different ways. Here are just a few simple ones:
- Exploring new marketing channels and strategies.
- Testing product or service innovations and variations.
- Implementing new policies or incentives in order to positively influence employee satisfaction, motivation, work ethic, etc.
- Branching out by adding (or bringing back) a product or service line.
There’s a great book – aptly titled “Little Bets” – which takes a look at the importance of experimentation in business using detail we couldn’t hope to achieve in this post. It’s a pretty short read, doesn’t drag along, and author Peter Sims includes enough respectable research and real-world examples to make his point and teach readers how to think creatively and outside-the-box.
As of writing, it only costs $11.99 on Kindle or $4.50 for a used paperback copy. We found a copy at our local Barnes & Noble for about $10, so it should be easy enough to find and is certainly worth the couple of dollars. You can purchase “Little Bets” on Amazon via this link or the one above.
The above links are not affiliate links. Neither the author nor Responsive Media LLC will profit from any purchase of “Little Bets” via the links above.
8) Brand Your Business!
We mentioned a bit earlier that consistent branding was key to encouraging business growth. And for that you need to have a brand! Make sure that your “brand,” whatever it might be, makes your business identifiable and memorable by consumers. There are a lot of great ways to make your brand pop, a few of which we wrote about here. Basically, get your brand in check and use it to connect with your customers as soon as possible!
9) Build Your Mailing List
It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in or what market it serves – a list of email subscribers can be marketed to in whichever way best fits your strategy. You get them to help you promote content, or you can market products or services directly to them. At the very least, you can use your list to keep in contact with your subscribers and keep them aware of new business developments.
10) Build Relationships and Remember to Network
Relationships matter. The statement rings doubly true for small businesses, which can generate significant growth or potential for growth via word-of-mouth referrals, repeat business, and similar outcomes. That means it’s crucial to establish relationships with customers, particularly for businesses which provide B2B services and require a relatively smaller number of customers to be profitable.
Networking fits right in with establishing relationships. But when we think of “networking,” we’re often thinking specifically of establishing relationships with industry professionals and individuals who can help us meet our professional or business goals. Networking with local professionals, industry representatives, and even your competitors can be hugely beneficial to your business.
11) Get Your Local SEO Right
It seems as if every time Google releases a new update or addition to its ranking algorithm, someone starts talking about how “SEO is dead.” Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly with respect to local SEO. Fortunately, if you can afford to spare the time, it’s not too difficult to start refining your local SEO and seeing the benefits. We’ve made a Local SEO Ranking Checklist to help you make the most of your time and guide your strategy. You can view it here or download it for free below.
12) Create Incentives
When we discussed the importance of experimentation with respect to business growth, we briefly mentioned using incentives to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, et cetera. While that’s certainly an important consideration, astutely utilizing sales incentives can boost growth for your business quickly while widening your long-term customer base.
The internet offers a multitude of different methods (think discounts, contests, events, giveaways, etc.) and platforms (your website, social media, etc.) which can be utilized to incentivize customers. Given the ease of implementing incentives via the internet, there’s no reason you can’t set up a daily discount in 5 minutes and profit from it for weeks, months or years to come.
13) Take Advantage of Social Media
As we just mentioned above, social media can be used to effectively implement and promote incentives. Generally speaking, we think of social media as a tool for engaging with and promoting to various audiences. Consequently, there are a number of ways that social media can be used to spur business growth.
Share posts from your blog and relevant content you find interesting or useful. Ask questions or poll your audience. Share details about discounts, events, or your efforts in the community. Try to get customers to review your business, and give feedback when they do.
On a final note, social media can be used in a wide variety of ways, many of which can directly or indirectly lead to business growth.
14) Get Involved in Your Community
Yep, we mentioned it above – getting involved in your community can encourage growth over time. (Have you noticed how often these tips tie together? It’s a key part of utilizing them successfully!)
Helping to enhance your community is a great way to get local press and establish connections with members of your community. Honestly, it’s just that simple.
It’s also worth mentioning that building those connections and relationships in your community can safeguard your business against certain threats. This isn’t the best post to discuss that concept at length (we”ll release one in the near future) but just remember that defining your business’ role in your community is worth taking time to work on.
15) Write Unique and Compelling Content
Creating unique and compelling content which is relevant to your products, services, business, industry, or community is vital for creating growth – especially via digital platforms. Seriously, we would rank this as one of the most important business growth tips in this list!
Great content generates interaction, and regardless of whether comes from shares, comments, tweets or another metric, interaction is incredibly important to scaling a business and generating growth. You can find thousands of articles which try to define “great content” in thousands of different ways, but at Responsive Media LLC we prefer to follow a few basic guidelines:
- Create content that would be useful to us.
- Don’t create content if it can’t be done without searching Google. (Obviously you may need to reference things here and there, and that’s perfectly alright. The point is more to create content on topics where you legitimately have some expertise)
- Find new ways of displaying the information and getting our point across. (Use different images, post structure, voice, et cetera).
Plus, a few bonus business growth tips!
16) Collect Reviews From Customers
Customer reviews are relevant – and important – to growing a business. While not all consumers will go out of their way to review a business, many will at least share their positive and negative experiences with family and friends. It’s really as simple as saying that customers’ perceptions of your business will influence how potential customers choose to interact with your business.
While focusing on collecting customer reviews probably isn’t going to yield rapid growth, it is worth giving some attention to. So let’s look at it this way:
We don’t want to spend hours trying to solicit reviews from our clients, and we want our reviews to be genuine and unforced. So instead, we can set up automated system to subtly remind customers of the places they can leave a review or general feedback. Essentially, after a sale is made or service is completed, the customer will receive an email with a “Thank You” message and links to local review platforms. After the initial set-up is completed, there’s really not much else to do. That leaves us with more time, more reviews, and hopefully some additional sales!
17) Create Strategic Partnerships
Strategic business partnerships create potential for growth, whether it comes from improved sales or reduced costs. For example, we’ve recently been considering a direct mail marketing campaign. We decided to research local direct marketing firms and reach out about exchanging services. Both businesses could potentially benefit by increasing the scope of their marketing efforts, and at a lower cost than if the services were paid for outright.
18) Go Traditional
There’s really not too much to say here. Most business owners and entrepreneurs will at least consider using “traditional” strategies like direct mailing, flier and postcard distribution, or print advertising. For some small businesses and organizations, it can work very well.
We’re only just now experimenting with a few “traditional” strategies of our own, so we’ll finish with a reminder that this would be a great area to employ the concept of “little bets.”
19) Be Modern – Utilize Video Marketing
Yep, we’re going to contradict ourselves a tad here, but both modern and traditional options need to be looked at to determine which is optimal for a particular marketing campaign or general business growth strategy. Video marketing is one such strategy that, when employed effectively, is both cost-effective and useful for increasing exposure, improving engagement, or driving greater sales.
If employed effectively, a number of these business growth tips can yield great results while remaining cost-effective and viable for your small business.
Having said that, we know that we’ve missed a ton of great tips for business growth. We’d love to hear yours in the comments below!