Like most entrepreneurs, you’re in business because you love your niche — and to make money. It’s 2020, and time for a new year, new you, and new strategies to help accelerate your business growth.
From traditional quality customer service to taking advantage of everything the Internet has to offer, we’ve compiled the most effective ways to help you accelerate growth in your business.
Streamline Your Operations
The more efficiently you operate, the better the customer experience and the more you’ll be able to add to your bottom line. Efficiency can come in many forms, from upgrading your software to conducting additional training to giving your employees greater knowledge and flexibility.
There are a few things to consider when streamlining how you operate from day to day. If you’re a newer business, you may still be functioning under the guidelines and best practices that you used when opening your business.
However, as you’ve gotten into your stride, you may have realized that there could be a better way to build a mousetrap. That is, some of the policies or ways of doing things that initially helped your business may no longer be as efficient or may not provide the best customer experience.
Poll your employees. They’re on the front lines and may have some ideas about how your business could run more smoothly. Then, carefully consider their suggestions and implement ones that have potential, on a trial basis.
Implement Content Marketing
Content marketing provides one of the best returns on investment (ROI) of any marketing or advertising campaign. What is content marketing? It’s designing your website to have relatable, engaging content that improves your SEO (search engine optimization). Better content on your website means that you’ll rank higher in a Google query. This includes having fresh, unique blog posts, creative videos that showcase your products or demonstrate how to use them, and photos of your business, your staff, or any community involvement you participate in.
Content marketing also includes incorporating your social media, using teasers on Twitter or Facebook to invite followers to visit your website to read a new blog entry, or posting a small snippet of a longer video on Instagram to encourage fans to view the entire thing. Content marketing also involves using relevant keywords, structuring your written media to include headers, and adding photos to blogs.
Content marketing can fall flat, so it’s important that you avoid a few key pitfalls. First, make sure that you know what kinds of keywords that people use to Google your business. For example, “tax attorneys your city” or “children’s birthday cakes.” Understanding how new clients find you is important — your website should contain lots of these keywords, but they should be used in an easy, natural manner.
This is where good content comes in. Well-written blogs and engaging web copy are where you pepper your keywords in, like spicing a stew. Plus, interesting posts on your website keep customers coming back again and again, turning casual visitors into hot leads. By properly engaging your site visitors, you can begin pushing them through the sales funnel.
Offer New Products or Services
You may have several great service ideas or an entirely new line and are ready to launch it all at once. However, before you release everything, make sure that you’re prepared to make your launch successful. When you’ve developed a new product or service, test it to make sure that you can consistently produce the goods or execute the service before launching. You don’t want your loyal customers to be unwitting beta testers.
Make sure your sales staff can competently explain all the features and benefits of your new offerings, and that they can do so in a seamless, effortless way. Once your sales staff have mastered selling your new items and you know you can keep up with demand, then gradually add more of your new deployments. It’s better to go slowly and do it right than to add many different things but not be able to deliver the level of quality your customers expect.
Research Your Competitors
Part of every business’s marketing plan should include a comparison shop for the competition. It’s part of what will help you open successfully. Analyzing your competitors should be something that you repeat annually. Your initial competitive assessment, before you open, should give you an idea of where you need to place yourself in the market. After a couple of years, you will develop a greater sense of where you fall, in terms of pricing, customer opinions, and diversity of goods or services.
It’s best to evaluate certain things about your competition, including promotions, innovations, and even their web content at least once per year. You can also do a secret shop, living an authentic customer experience by visiting your competition online and checking their level of attentiveness. Once you know what their pricing is and what they’re offering, you can make decisions like whether or not to raise your prices or tweak your own best practices.
Evaluate Your Staffing
Part of running a more efficient business includes looking at who you have working for you, from individual employees to certain title roles to entire departments. One mistake that some small business owners make is hiring too many “specialty” employees, like an HR director, or an IT chief. However, for smaller businesses, you may want to streamline your operations more by outsourcing your accounting payroll, human resources, and primary hiring, or IT.
If your payroll is a little heavy, hiring someone to do 10 hours of work for you on a contractual basis may be more beneficial than having a full or even part-time employee doing the same work on your payroll. In addition, you may have a few different departments and responsibilities. Cross-training your better line employees can actually make your business more efficient. The more people you have on your team who can do more than one job, the more efficient your business is.
Focus on Your Established Market
When most business owners think of growing their business, they think literally, in terms of growing the number of clients they have. However, you have an untapped resource in business growth that’s already buying from you: your existing customer base. If you don’t already have a customer loyalty program, it’s time to create one. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel — in fact, you can talk to your current clients about what they’d like in a customer incentive program, or even send out a poll to your email list.
You can also take the time to visit or personally email your best customers thanking them for their continued loyalty and support. Personal touches matter, in addition to managing the bottom line, and it’s important to value customers who have been loyal (and spent money) since you opened.
Build an Authentic Brand
The powerful buying generation, millennials, are looking for a different experience from companies than their parents did. This is a demographic that grew up during the Great Recession and has learned to distrust mega-corporations. The move from national brands to local shops and small businesses was spearheaded by millennials, and what many of these customers seek is an authentic brand experience.
Brand-building includes providing great service and identifying your target customers, thereby understanding their needs. You also build your brand through engaging content marketing and an authentic social media presence. Branding not only means that you relate to your customers, but also that you deliver consistency and quality.
Another form of branding is making sure that the message of your business, whether it’s tax preparation expertise, the hottest fashion, or delicious, decadent bakery treats, is conveyed across all your marketing materials.
Your social media accounts should reflect your passion and your website should be focused on your niche and your brand’s business offerings. By remaining consistent and focused, you’ll establish an identity for your business. When you engage with customers in person and online, the personality of your business can shine.
Upgrade Your Equipment
Is your heavy equipment ready to handle increases in your production as your business grows? What about your phone systems, your IT infrastructure, and your software? Part of successful growth is being able to capably service new customers or larger orders from existing customers, and to do that you may need better equipment, point of sales systems, or computers.
Luckily, equipment upgrades don’t have to cost an arm and a leg or eat up your predicted profits for the next quarter. Many smaller, yet established businesses find it better to lease equipment for a few years instead of purchasing their own. When you lease equipment, you have the option to upgrade to a newer model or a more efficient one every few years. Plus, most lease agreements come with tech support, preventative maintenance, or repairs.
Business growth is a holistic process that incorporates building new leads, nurturing existing clients, and building relationships with your target customers. It also means that you’re improving efficiency for increased flow-through and ensuring that your equipment and best practices can handle the accelerated growth. Incorporating these tips will help you make 2020 a year of growth for your business.