Lets start by dispelling that old urban myth “you can’t grow your business and increase the bottom line”!
Many business owners feel that they need to ‘buy’ revenue, by increasing the spend in the marketing plan, but this could compromise profits. However, there are many ways you can achieve growth without ‘buying’ it.
All businesses come to a crossroads over time and fail to take the road that gets them to the next level, because most growth projects require investing time and/or money – 2 commodities in short demand in every client I have worked with!
So if your plan is to grow your business in 2015, but you lack resources and especially capital, here are four great ways to generate growth:
Sell more to your current customers.
The markets today are the most crowded they have ever been and the hardest thing to do is to recruit more new customers – and then convert them to buy. But you have a new potential revenue stream right under your nose. The most cost effective and least time-consuming way to grow your business is to do more business with your current customers.
The simple fact is that is, your current customer base is actually more likely to buy from you. He’s already familiar with your products or services, and you have a relationship so he already trusts you. Why not call round your customers, or come up with an offer to market to them.
To grow your business in 2015, this is absolutely the first thing you should do – find ways of persuading your existing customers to buy more of the products they already buy.
Sell additional products to your existing customers.
How often have you sat down in front of what you think is a good customer and they tell you they have made a major purchase of a product or service that you supply – but they bought it from a competitor!
You then ask why they bought from Brand X and not you, and they then look incredulous as they say that they never knew you provided that service or product!
Although its true that customers do tend to pigeon-hole you as a supplier for certain things – you either have other products that you can sell to existing customers or with a little lateral thinking you might bundle some stuff together.
If you’re a service provider, you can repackage your services and sell them to your current customers. So for example a creative website design agency might bundle a web design offer with an SEO package, and position it as a fast-track website package.
Selling new or repackaged items to current customers is really an extension of my first easy win. Do a bit of marketing to launch the new items – actually the act of creating a new product out of a bundle of existing ones gives you a great reason to communicate again with your existing customers as, well as perhaps re-educating them as to other products or services you carry. Just a letter or phone call might even generate interest.
Find more customers for your current product range
Profile what your best customer looks like, and then start looking for others like him. Are you active in your local area, like most small businesses, and while you don’t perhaps want to have to service customers all over the country, you can expand into adjacent counties.
These new customers are not completely cold prospects – you have a track record of supplying similar customers in their sector – but in a different locale.
Or look at the vertical market your product sits in – and jump from the current channel into a new one – you have the product knowledge, and again you can demonstrate this expertise in a new potential customer group
Develop new products
There are at least a couple of ways of doing this.
The expensive way is to come up with a completely new solution or product, develop and package it and then take it to market.
However, many times all that is needed is simply requires a slight re-positioning of your current product or service that will either open up a new market segment, or really focus it in to your target market for an increased uptake.
Changing the colour of an item, or size you can reposition it for a whole new market. Make something smaller and market it for children. Change your packaging from metallic to pastel turns it from a male oriented product into something that will appeal to a female buyer.
By-products of your production process might be re-packaged as a product useful for a totally new customer base. For example, marmite is a by-product of the brewing industry – think outside the box – you never know what might come up!
Set aside an afternoon with your team and brainstorm these 4 ideas as the agenda topics and come up with some concrete actions for each. Distill them into a simple marketing plan with actions and timings and stick to it. Not all will work, but most certainly at least one will lead to some new growth or venture.
Author Matthew Simmons