This growth-focused guide is for those seeking predictable ways to grow their business -- something most companies wrongly overlook.
It's a known fact that to remain in business, you need to be profitable.
However, over a more extended period, you must figure out predictable ways to grow your business.
That's because only predictable and consistent business growth can guarantee the profitability of your company over a longer period.
Focusing on profitability alone is myopic because it gets business people to term little wins as being "successful."
But, in reality, businesses weren't meant to succeed, they were meant to grow.
Thus, this marketing guide walks you through the ways you can predictably grow your business to remain profitable over a longer period.
1. Identify Customer Pains. Be the Pain Killer
Your potential customers are firstly in the lookout for WIIFM (What's In It For Me).
And WIIFM comes from the natural tendency of people craving to remove whatever pains they're having.
For your business to grow predictably, identifying a problem and proffering a solution is about the most crucial step towards success.
Seth Godin, the successful serial entrepreneur, captured the dire need to identify and solve customer pain points, as the path he used to build his successful companies when he advised:
"Don't find customers for your products; find products for your customers."
Implying that you're better positioned to predictably grow your business by only creating products/services customers have shown interest in, instead of developing something of your choice and expecting them to see why they need it.
Steps to identify the pain points of existing/potential customers:
There's no smoke without a fire; hence, you should have some gut feeling that people may need a product or service.
This could come from your observation, experience, or during an interaction with people/existing customers.
For example, when Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, he had the gut feeling it was a necessity back in Harvard.
Also, Uber's Founder started what is now a unicorn by asking the simple question: "what if you could request a ride from your phone?"
But, let's say your business is already existing and you want to predictably grow it.
Then, you should monitor your product/service carefully and ideate on improvements such as better customer service or features that further solve the pain points of your customers, as well as makes their life easier.
b. Continuously Conduct Research
The next thing you want to do to identify the pain points of customers so you can solve them and predictably boost your business is to continuously conduct research.
Lookout for market/industry reports related to the business sector you operate in, as well as keep an eye on innovative steps taken by your competitors.
As human beings, our demands are insatiable.
It's the same with your customers. Today they may be okay with what you're offering, tomorrow they may seek something else.
For example, within a short number of years, customers are no longer satisfied with businesses having just an online presence; they now demand an exciting online experience.
However, since you can't have a business without customers, it's your job to always keep an eye on them and on current or emerging trends in your sector.
This way, you'd always be in the know on the next strategic steps to take, as well as the exact pains you should be solving for your clients.
Information is power, more so now that we leave in an information age, the power in having the most relevant and timely information in business would only get more significant.
Two ways to always conduct research and be in the loop with the right information is to leverage market/industry reports, and interrogate your existing customers at regular intervals.
Market/industry reports would reveal what your competitors are doing and highlight emerging trends that'd likely dictate the direction your business should take.
On the other hand, interrogating your existing customers would reveal hands-on insights into how to better solve their problems, as well signal better ways of doing so, which ends up improving their loyalty to your brand.
c. Use the "Follow Them Home" Technique
The "Follow Them Home" technique is one used to spot the pain points your customers may have by mapping the journeys leading to the purchase and/or use of your product/service.
People go through a process to buy or use any product/service. The easier you make that process, or shorten the time it takes to do so, helps you to predictably grow your business.
The birth of online delivery and e-commerce began when smart retailers identified that potential customers had limited time to go through the process of having to visit physical stores to make a purchase.
Today, Amazon Go is even shortening that time by enabling shoppers to buy things without queuing up in front of counters or cashiers.
People now study in the comfort of their homes through e-learning and physicians are able to treat patients without them having to physically visit a school or hospital, respectively.
As you can imagine, the pioneers of these innovations did so by applying some form of the "Follow Them Home" technique.
They mapped out the journey people take to buy/use their product/service from where they identified the customer pains they could eliminate or reduce.
The result? Most pioneers of the "Follow Them Home" technique have gone on to predictably build billion-dollar businesses.
For example, I detailed how TravelStart uses part of this strategy to acquire more online airline ticket sales than Nigerian airline companies in this case study.
Using this technique can help you to predictably grow your business, too.
2. Architect An Automated Customer Acquisition Engine
Every business that grew predictably had a predictable way to acquire customers (almost) automatically.
Customers make a business. In short, there is a direct correlation between how much your business can grow and the number of customers you can acquire.
Thus, engineering a process that automatically enables you to pull in new customers is one obviously-predictable way to grow your business.
Before now, the words "architect an automated customer acquisition engine" sounded vague (although it still does for some people).
But, thanks to the internet and the many online channels available to companies of all sizes, any business owner can also implement this.
However, a customer acquisition engine would differ depending on your type of business.
If you own an e-commerce business, your customer acquisition process might be Facebook/Google Ad -> Your Online Store -> Purchase.
For a local restaurant, it might be Google Ad (via Google Map) -> Online Reservation -> Customer Visit -> Purchase.
In the case of a professional services firm, it might have a customer acquisition engine where prospects go through Facebook/YouTube Ad -> Free Webinar -> Lead -> Strategy Call -> Client.
In the end, the point is the same - you need to "architect" a flow that allows new prospects to be aware of your business, become leads, and proceed to become paying customers.
If you make this process run automatically, something you can do by leveraging the online channels available to every business today, you would've taken a significant step towards growing your business predictably.
That way, you can have some certainty of the advertisement investment you need to generate a certain number of leads, and the number of email sequences it takes to nurture those leads before they become customers.
However, to do this effectively without coming off as salesy to your prospects, you need to ensure you deliver an exciting online experience that moves their hearts and wallets.
Which is something you can do by implementing an online strategy that works.
Download our simplified, yet comprehensive Online Growth Guide, that walks you through the 5 steps to plan, acquire more customers, and boost sales online. We'd also send you a Free Strategy Planner when you subscribe.
3. Retain Customers
Despite the myriad of online strategies employed by businesses of every kind today, referral marketing remains a very predictable way to grow a business.
Referral marketing means that people who use your products/services would gladly recommend it to their friends and loved ones.
But, for that to happen, you must have served them well enough to retain their patronage and win their loyalty.
Unfortunately, referral marketing isn't something you can "architect."
It's a by-product achieved by creating a product/service that actually solves a problem, sold to customers with a differentiated experience, and backed up by excellent customer service.
When you merge those three things together, not only would you retain customers, it'd get them talking about your business and recommending your products/services to their entire network and loved ones.
Albeit, without you asking them to do so.
Furthermore, it cost 5 times more to attract a potential customer compared to retaining an existing one.
Meaning that, if retaining an existing customer cost $10, you'd need around $50 just to attract (not acquire) a potential customer.
So, imagine if the customers you retain at a lesser cost go on to tell other people about your business and the people they tell go on to become customers without you spending any money to acquire them. Then, these new set of customers go on to tell other people about your business.
That'd be an increasing customer base with lesser marketing expenses, more sales and revenue, as well as your business growing predictably without your direct input...
Except, of course, your ability to concentrate on serving customers well enough to win their loyalty and retain their patronage.
4. Be On the Lookout For New Opportunities
As rightly quoted from Richard Branson:
"Business opportunities are like buses; there's always another one coming."
Irrespective of your industry, there are always new opportunities emerging daily. Customers would always want something better or more.
Which is a good thing for businesses that want to grow predictably because taking advantage of new opportunities is one way to grow your business.
According to Ayn Rand:
"The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity."
Unfortunately, often times than not, businesses are so engrossed in their everyday operations or in admiration of their already-acquired successes that they forget to keep an eye for new opportunities.
It's how Kodak lost its place as one of the world's largest companies.
At the time when market dynamics were springing up newer innovations, not only did Kodak give deaf ears to it, they took a myopic forecast of digital cameras becoming the next biggest opportunity.
Thereby, allowing emerging companies to disrupt them to the extent they filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012.
However, it wasn't Kodak's lack of financial muscle to cease the digital camera revolution opportunity and predictably grow its business that pushed them down the ropes.
It was their failure to be on the lookout for the new business opportunities from the emerging market dynamics digital cameras presented that brought their growth to a halt.
It doesn't matter the size of your business or the industry you operate in, there is always another opportunity coming.
Hence, to predictably grow your business, you must be on the lookout for these opportunities, take advantage of them, and maybe increase the order size of your customers.
To be on the lookout for new opportunities, applying all three steps discussed so far in this article is an excellent place to start.
The steps include:
- Interrogate your customers/leads to identify new pain points you can solve.
- Study market/industry reports to get insights into new market shifts.
- Study your acquisition process, as well the other products/services your customers use to understand leaks or other products they may need.
- Look at your competitors and the disruptive ideas emerging around your sector.
5. Surround Yourself (and Business) With Great People
Honestly, many factors would contribute to help grow your business predictably.
A marketable product/service is obviously inevitable, sound strategies are essential, and efficient processes play a significant role.
However, to culminate all those variables into a single working force geared towards growing your business predictably, you need people to execute on them.
In short, not only do you need people, you'd need great people.
Keeping great employees who're engaged, love working for you, and agreeing on a primary goal is necessary if you hope to grow your business predictably.
That's because you can assign roles to them and be sure they'd deliver. And because you trust them enough, they'd feel valued, engaged, and take your business like theirs.
In line with that, extensive research shows that when employees feel engaged and valued, they're 24% more likely to boost the sales of a business.
In the words of Simon Sinek:
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
Also, Merle Shain observed that:
"The people in your (business) life are like the pillars on your couch. Sometimes they hold you up, and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it's enough to know they are standing by (to help you grow)."
However, to glean the greatness of people pertinent to growing your business, you have to understand that not all of them would come great.
Greatness, in this context, must start with you, being the business owner or the one in charge.
In the first place, you may attract misfits; however, if you're a great person (or at least someone who continually strives to be one), you'd end up retaining the great people most likely to help grow your business predictably.
The primary takeaway is that you can't go all by yourself. There's a limit to what you can achieve alone, and growing a business predictable is one of those things.
There's the saying that if one person can chase a thousand, a hundred set of any kind of people can chase ten thousand.
Now, imagine what a hundred set of great people can achieve.
Surround your business with great people. They'd help you with new ideas, new processes, efficient execution of strategies, that'd help grow your business predictably.
Conclusion (why businesses don't grow quickly)
So, there you have it. I tried to keep this article less technical so you can grasp full insights into ways to grow your business predictably and consistently.
However, to round it up, I'd highlight some mistakes pinpointed in a survey of business owners, which inhibited their growth.
Furthermore, they noted that between the first and fourth business years, marketing got just 13% of all expenses.
Then, asked to mention one thing that inhibited growth in their enterprise, respondents said they regretted not devoting up to 28% of all expenses to marketing alone starting from the first year.
Looking at all the ways to predictably grow your business in this article, a common trend that can make each one possible is by investing in the right marketing.
That's because, according to Chron, marketing is very important to growing any business.
Investing in marketing right off the bat is critical, as it can help you to identify customer pains and needs, respond with ongoing product/service development, and find the shortest part between your brand and consumers.
Furthermore, marketing (especially one focused on growth) would help you to create exciting customer experience-focused campaigns that continually move the hearts and wallets of your customers.
Of course, when hearts move; then, wallets can move, too.
And when wallets move continually, your business would grow predictably and consistently, too.
Thank you for reading.
Did you find this guide useful? How are you predictably growing your business today? Got any challenges?
Please, tell me in the comment box below.