How To Grow Your Business (Part 1)
How to grow a business is surrounded by myths and so many opinions, it is hard to look through. Thus I have put together here a full guide packed with real-life experiences how you can make your business grow, separated into 2 parts.
But why do you need to grow your business anyway?
Okay so you are past the start-up stage, you created a product, made your first sales, do everything you can to keep customers happy and it gets going until after a while you seem to be stuck on a plateau.
The growth you had in the beginning seemed to be at a halt.
For some strange reasons, the business that used to thrive and grow on its own in the first months or years has come to a point where you just seem to spin your wheels.
First of all: you are not alone.
Most businesses get started this way:
a first product gets developed, the first reactions are good and you get some buyers, you gather feedback and try to improve it.
Slowly the words spread and you are on a natural path for growth.
The sales start coming in, you dedicate more time to it and your eyes light up as you see the possibilities of your future business already in your mind.
It is truly a great feeling!
This cycle goes well for a certain time, until growth hits a certain point where every bit of attention and interest that this first product could gather is used up.
Usually you as a business owner notice this when sales have not increased in months or they even might be declining, despite all efforts on marketing and selling on your part.
The initial growth phase you were in, is finally over.
Many then get stuck in this situation and so does their business, dooming it to be a “small business” for lifetime.
But don´t let that be you!
To get smarter than that, we wrote this behemoth of a blogpost for you with out-of-the-trenches knowledge you can directly use for your venture:
Here is our guide with 10 different ways to grow your business to help you out of such a situation.
A business can only grow and thrive if you know how to keep enough money coming in, month after month.
These tactics revealed here took me more than a hundred books to read, several years to learn them and thousands of wasted dollars on false investment from which I hoped would help me make more money, when instead I lost all of it.
And now for the first time i will share them with anybody. Check them out and welcome the life you always wanted:
Option 1: Grow Your Business With More Products
Most businesses get started by having a great idea for a product and then selling it to first customers.
The feedback is good, you keep increasing production, customers are happy and you begin to grow month by month.
But then suddenly out of nowhere, growth seems to come to a halt. You decide to invest more in advertising, increase your promotions, make special offers but still…. the numbers stay the same or even decrease. No more growth despite all efforts.
What happened here?
It is actually very logical and happens to almost every business after the initial growth:
Every product has a certain lifetime, which can be very long or very short depending on your industry.
But, at one point or another, customers will always get bored with what they have.
This is basic human psychology, just look at a small kid who has just received new toys - chances are high that within a week the child does not even bother to look at the toys anymore, no matter how much it longed for them previously.
Grown ups are actually bigger children and they behave accordingly, even if you would not expect them to do so.
Think about a new Iphone that gets introduced, how long does it take until a competitor comes up with an even better phone?
How long can the new model be considered “new”?
And how long does this proud feeling of having the latest technology make you feel special?
For these high-tech devices, chances are high that they will become obsolete within a few months.
And in our modern high-tech society everything tends to happen faster and faster.
Now in more traditional industries the cycle might take longer, if you design furniture for example it might even hold on for years.
But sooner or later there will be a point where a new trend has changed the industry, or the design has become outdated (just look at fashion from the 90s!) or the attention and concerns of the buyer have shifted.
This is not a sign that your business is doomed, instead it is a normal process.
Especially nowadays where consumers are over-bombarded with commercial messages every day, they are trained to always want the newest and latest stuff and fade out what is not in their focus right now.
Growing your business with always the same offering will be impossible.
So there will come a point when the great product that allowed you to start your business in the first place will be outdated and lose its drive among your customers.
The good thing is now that you know it, you can prepare for it and anticipate this situation already.
To solve this and get out of this uncomfortable situation of stagnant revenue, you can make use of the most simple approach to solve it: create more products.
Of course this is easier said than done. And probably you will feel a bit overwhelmed and are not sure where to start to create another product at all.
But you have proven already that you know how to produce a valuable good and found a first customer base - the toughest part is already behind you.
It is also not necessary to come up with a totally new idea for a product - it can instead also be a variation of your product that you can use as an upsell with a more exclusive version or downsell as a more basic package to already existing customers.
Or you could also create an add-on version of your product, ideally where the 2 products enhance each other´s usability.
This does not only dramatically increase the value you provide with both products, but it also forms an ecosystem where the customer can have more of what he or she wants or needs out of your hands.
It gives people more convenience, and people love to have everything as simple as possible already served up for them.
The options are limited only by your own imagination.
The important aspect of this process is that you come up with something new and preferably better, faster and more useful to the customer every once in a while.
In times where things are changing so fast, being up to date and innovating constantly is essential to keep your business growing, and it will also add more financial stability to your company as it creates multiple sources of income instead of relying on one major product.
Option 2: Grow Your Business With Inbound Marketing - Outbound Marketing
In case you didn't know about this term, it was taken from the book Sales Acceleration Formula by the famous author Mark Roberge.
The basic difference between the 2 tactics is as follows:
Classical marketing relies basically on interrupting the customer at what he or she currently does - for instance you watch a movie on TV and then they stop the movie to show you commercials.
If you are interested in continuing to watch the movie you have no other option than to watch the commercials until the movie continues.
The same goes for classic billboards, news Ads or similar - they interrupt you from what you are doing to show you commercial messages.
Therefore these classical advertising messages are very unpopular and people try to do what they can to go round them like muting the TV during commercials.
This approach is the old-fashioned, classic way of advertising as it has existed since more than a century now.
Thanks to technology and the Internet, there has also emerged a new form of marketing.
And it basically works like this:
Have you ever been in the comfort of your home, wondered about some question that goes around in your mind and then decided to look in Google for it?
And then coincidentally found a website with all the information you needed, offering to handle everything you want at an affordable price?
How about hearing about a new fashion trend, looking it up online, and finding next to helpful articles also an integrated webshop to order right away?
That is the power of inbound-marketing.
Instead of interrupting and annoying the viewer, inbound-marketing tries to help and find a solution and thereby gather the customer's attention.
It does usually not only work better, but also captures people's attention in a much more helpful and beneficial approach.
To find out exactly how to implement it in your business, I would recommend you to read Mark Roberge´s book as I can never give you as many details here in this article.
But what I can tell you is that the most obvious way to implement is via content marketing, meaning to provide helpful articles, blog posts or videos on your online presence.
See yourself in the customer's situation with the problem that your business solves and think about possible ways how and where they could be looking for a solution.
Your job is then to provide that desired solution when it will be needed. Make sure you are there wherever and whenever people are looking for what you have to offer - modern marketing technologies like retargeting and PPC-Ads make it possible.
But how exactly does that help you grow your business?
Most companies are very one-sided with their marketing and sales, usually it is built after a one-best-way that has worked from the beginning and since then everybody follows this model because “that's how we do things here”.
If your growth has hit a halt, chances are high that you have used mainly one of the 2 ways with either inbound marketing or outbound marketing to capture the buyer's attention and awareness for your product.
For example, many companies have a strong online sales presence but hardly have tried direct sales in person and vice-versa.
If that could be your business, try to find more creative ways on how you can market your products. If you are already on the top of your inbound marketing, try the traditional approach of outbound marketing.
Usually both ways inbound marketing and outbound marketing capture different types of buyers and in different situations, that's why if you are not already using both ways it can help you get to the next level of growth in your business.
Option 3: Grow Your Business With Back End Sales
What do you do after someone bought from you?
Do your customers receive a thank you email and that’s it?
Or is there something else that you offer them?
Your already existing customer base is one of the strongest assets you can have in every business. These are the people who do not only know you but have already at least once made the decision to do business with you, meaning you enjoy a high level of trust already in their minds.
This is the best thing to have in any business situation!
According to studies, it is 10 times easier to sell to an already existing customer who already said yes to you at least once than it is to find a new customer who will buy your product.
Most companies have their “flagship of a product” that is their best seller, the cash-cow that brings often as much revenue in as many other products combined.
And successful companies look at these products and then try to build an ecosystem of additional products that you could use if you were already interested in their first product.
For example this could be a maintenance kit or an upgrade service for premium customers.
Back end-selling at it´s core means utilizing the existing customer base that you already have and instead of watching it collect dust, to actively market to them and try to provide them with additional products and services they could use.
Usually it is a form of upselling, meaning you make premium offers, but not necessarily.
It could also be your new product that you just launched, even if this is of inferior quality as the one the customer bought previously.
Many businesses (especially those who are already in business since many years!) often have massive email lists and phone or address directories with thousands of people on them and guess what they do with it?
If that sounds like your business, consider yourself lucky because you might just be sitting on a goldmine.
Think about what you could offer your existing customers that could be useful and provide a lot of value in the back end of the sales cycle to grow your business.
Ultimately, back-end sales are always a numbers game.
It starts really paying out if you are in the position to have 10.000, 100.000 or more customers in your database as you can already assume that a certain percentage of them will always buy.
This number varies by industry, the product you sell and the approach you use to sell. However, don't expect too many dollars rolling in if you only have about 50 existing customers in your business so far, then maybe you should take a look at our next tactic to grow.
Option 4: Grow Your Business With Front End Sales
Very often people would be interested in what you have to offer, but somehow they feel that it would be too expensive or they would rather take their money elsewhere at the moment, because hey, we all need to pay our bills somehow.
In this case it would be wise to provide them with a tailor-made solution for their concerns in order to not lose them as customers but rather to make sure they will at least consume a minimum amount of product that you offer.
While this sounds like traditional down-selling, it has a much stronger psychological effect: let´s say you offer a lead product for 100$ but you know many people will not spend 100$ on first sight with you and leave.
In this case, find a way to give them a product that ideally has similar benefits or gives them a hint of what your lead product would be like, but for a fraction of the cost.
For instance if you sell consulting for 100$ per hour, try to first offer a newsletter where you constantly give useful information to people for 3$ a month.
Now, who could NOT afford 3$ a month?
If that person is only partially interested in what you have to offer, chances are high to convert them into a paying customer.
And if writing that newsletter takes you 4 hours per month because you are a smart and experienced guy anyway, but you manage to sell it to 1.000 people who are constantly subscribed we are talking about earning 3.000$ per month extra for 4 hours of work - not a bad deal to me!
Now all that is left to do is to build trust and credibility in the customer's eyes by providing a great newsletter, for instance.
And if they could not afford your more expensive main product when they subscribed to the newsletter, maybe they can afford it in 2-3 years?
This also used to build a long-term relationship with your customers, position yourself as an expert, and stay in contact with them.
The businesses who know how to implement this strategy often even have other offers in-between to lead the customer step-by-step on a path of receiving value and consuming your products.
In our example that would mean after they subscribed to the 3$-a-month newsletter (that really should provide value!) they could then be offered a 20$ book about a certain topic your consulting service covers.
And after the book you could offer them a 70$ seat on a webinar or live seminar, depending on where you and your customers live.
The psychological idea behind this is what makes it so powerful:
Once we humans make a small commitment to something in our mind like that first 3$ newsletter subscription (which is really not a big deal by the way), we tend to see it as a part of our environment as a “friend”, something we know and trust.
That makes customers bring their mental “defenses” down.
You are no longer unknown to them.
They will welcome your messages with a totally different attitude now.
Before that, when you start marketing your advertising and people don´t think you are useful for them on the spot, then 95% of them will plainly ignore what you have to offer or say.
Instead they will try to get around you as quickly as they can (just think about the last TV commercials you watched!).
Effective front-end selling requires you to build an ecosystem of products that can then be sold step by step. Imagine creating a “ladder” of products starting with something very cheap at the bottom and your most expensive service or product on top.
Your way of selling and marketing should focus on the outcome that people get from it, meaning the end result that your product or service provides and how their lives will be better then.
Also it should be very easy to buy your stuff, so don't ask for personal details when it is not necessary or do other things that you know will not be popular. To better understand this, look for example at Amazon´s 1-click buying process, this is simple buying at its best.
By having your ecosystem of products, making it foolishly easy to buy from you and offer processes for further marketing to the existing customers you create an ultra-effective sales funnel that could bring in loads of new customers and growth to your business.
Option 5: Grow Your Business By Selling More Products
Your business is making 1 million dollars per year but you would like it to make 20 million, what should you do?
It sounds so easy: sell more!
While this in theory sounds so obvious and almost ridiculously simple, it is actually all you have to do. The problem comes when you get into practice and try to look for ways to sell more.
Most companies get started around a product that does very well in the market. A common approach would be to now offer up-sells or down-sells of that original product you created. Or to grow your business further by back-end and front-end selling, inbound marketing or the other previously discussed tactics.
If we look at Mcdonald's their main product would be the Big Mac.
But if you order there, they won´t stop with taking your order.
Instead they will try to ask you if you would like a drink or fries with that. That is a perfect example of up-selling your products and thereby trying to enhance the value your original product offers (who wouldn't like a soft drink when eating a cheeseburger?).
With upsells and downsells you do not even need to invest in marketing or acquire new customers, it is enough to just better serve your existing customers and thereby making more money without any additional effort.
The problem many business owners face is now this tactic is not always as obvious as it is in the restaurant business.
While It is crucial that whatever you up-sell or down-sell is of value to the customer and ideally it should be a good combination or alternative for the other products. For example, it would not be very effective if you run a car dealership and also beginn to sell pets (although I could imagine that there would be certain clients who would love to get a kitten with their new car).
We also had similar examples of how it should and could be done in our front-end selling and back-end selling approach.
Apart from that, many businesses, in particular traditional family-run small businesses are often very weak when it comes to selling and marketing.
Very often they only use 1 traditional sales channel and have a staff of very weak salespeople on board who are totally in charge of the whole process, if they have sales reps at all.
It literally pays to look at effective ways of selling and how it should be done, which you can learn about here and in our upcoming blog posts.
To grow your business effectively by selling more, you will first have to analyse in depth your current sales process and learn the in’s and out’s of selling itself.
Then you can go on and boost your sales tactics and grow with selling more products.
This article is continued in part 2!
Leanr 5 more tactics to grow your business today!