Yes, every business is different.
And it’s true, there is no one perfect way to grow your business.
But can this article still help you learn how to grow your business? Absolutely.
Here’s the thing: hard and fast rules are actually pretty slippery.
As a small business owner looking for ways to grow your customer base, your business success is based entirely on your business profile and your products and services.
That is precisely why you need to throw the rulebook out the window and start thinking about different strategies for success.
This article is for you if:
- You are a small business that is ready to take the next step.
- You are looking for a great way to expand your business online.
- You need ways to diversify your income streams by breaking into a new target market.
But first of all, are you ready to undergo rapid growth?
Tell-tale signs it’s time to scale your business
All business owners know that growth is essential for business success in the long term. Relying on existing customers will not be enough to stimulate your cash flow.
Still, as a new business, the bottom line is that expanding too fast in the short term could damage your business or even fold your company.
You’ll know your business is ready to level up its business model if:
- Your business has three years of continuous profit.
- Your business grows year on year already.
- You have a loyal customer base that is steadily growing.
- Your business niche is expanding.
- Your business plan is already meeting its goals.
- You have stable relationships with suppliers for products or services.
- Your business has a healthy, reliable cash flow.
- You can’t keep up with the demand from new customers.
- You have researched a viable business model.
- You are tired of life as a small business owner.
If this sounds like your business then you are probably ready to switch to the next gear and attract new customers.
These are our top twelves strategies to help you grow your small business.
1. Engage your customer base
Ensuring customer engagement is at the top of this list because it is your best bet at building loyal customer relationships.
In business, keeping hold of your existing customers is always more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
Growth is expensive and as you build your business, you can’t afford to lose existing customers for the sake of potential customers.
Before you can engage your customer base you need to know two things:
- Who your customers are
- What your customers need
It doesn’t matter if yours is a small business or a giant one. You need to make sure that you are already fulfilling the needs of a well-defined target market before you can start thinking about new customers.
Survey your existing customers’ needs through your customer service channels and user reviews and let their experience guide your growth ideas.
Remember that while feedback from customers is important, your business also needs to pay attention to the market and to competitor companies.
Market analysis is the other half of customer engagement and by applying them both together your business should see the bigger picture in terms of customer needs.
2. Leverage your unique selling point (USP)
Your unique selling point is the thing that makes your customers tick and the reason that they choose your business over other competing businesses.
To identify the USP for your customers, you need to think about the product or service that your business offers.
USPs can be split into three categories:
- Price. Your product or service is more affordable than those of competing businesses.
- Product. Your business offers higher quality products than other small businesses in your niche.
- Service. Your business offers better customer service, after-sales support, warranties, and technical information than competing businesses.
To properly leverage your USP you need to integrate it into every aspect of your business plan.
That means building your business identity, company values, marketing strategies, and the team around it.
3. Grow your online presence
Expanding your online presence is the best way to attract new potential customers to your business.
To truly leverage the growth potential of your small business you need to maximize your online presence.
Generally, this can be done in three ways:
- Marketing. Use email marketing, content marketing, and paid advertising to reach new leads.
- SEO. Optimize your website in order to take advantage of new opportunities from organic search traffic.
- Social media. Have a clear online presence on those social media platforms your target audience prefers and uses frequently.
Email marketing makes sense whatever way you look at it. After all, as a small business, your capital for growth is limited.
According to Hostpapa, email marketing returns $38 for every $1 spent and is one of the cheapest ways to acquire new customers. Better yet, it incentivizes old customers to return.
Focus on expanding your mailing list with high-quality leads through downloadable content, special offers, or other promotions if your business is looking to expand.
As a small business that’s in need of growth, paid ads can become very expensive very fast. Money spent here may well be better invested in content marketing and SEO.
SEO blogging is an extremely popular and effective way to grow your online business by ranking your content on search engines.
Consider hiring a copywriter or guest blogger to implement this strategy or follow our blogging guide for small businesses.
4. Develop your current products and services
Standard advice would tell you that service-based businesses are much harder to scale than traditional product-based businesses.
The best way to scale a service-based business is to think about it as if it were a product-driven business. That means three things to your customers:
- Define your approach and essential needs of the target customer.
- Make sure to codify the stages of production or product line in your company.
- Specify the roles of the people in your team.
After this, it is essential to find a brand line that clarifies the problem that you are solving for your customers as opposed to the benefit of your product or service.
Lastly, show people real outcomes from your products that make sure the initial problem has been solved.
5. Diversify your catalog
Adding more products to your company product line is a great way to increase sales and offer new opportunities to your customers.
Leverage customer service and online platforms to find out what products your customers really need, and what people are talking about.
Diversification is only useful for growth if the new products will genuinely improve customer experience.
Otherwise, it can quickly become a costly mistake.
6. Adapt to the times
You might have heard the phrase “adapt or die” in business growth.
Adaptability is the key to survival in times of fluctuating markets and uncertainty. But, more importantly, is also the key to taking advantage of opportunities to make money quickly.
Put simply, the margin of survival for any business is small. Over half of all businesses fail after five years.
To avoid this, your business should be flexible and your team should always be up to date with the latest technologies and trends.
Dedicate a portion of your working week to learning about changes in your sector and if necessary dedicate money to networking events and conferences to access the newest information.
7. Join networking events
Conferences, trade shows, and conventions are the perfect place to make links with other industry professionals and show off your business to prospective clients and power customers.
While your business might not make sales on the day, the people that you will meet could result in long lasting partnerships that should stimulate growth.
Rather than always talking about your own business at a conference, take the time to listen and learn to others talk about their own experience, too.
After the conference, make sure to solidify your new business connections on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
8. Increase your social media presence
Optimizing your social media presence can be the difference between growth and stagnation for a small business.
It is one of the most effective ways to bring new people to your business, drive traffic, and build authority without having to invest large amounts of money in advertising.
To implement an effective social strategy, your company needs to consider a few things first.
Finding the right platform
- Facebook. Facebook is the largest social network and is best for generating leads and attracting new customers.
- Twitter. Twitter provides a level of immediacy. It is good for customer service, responding to direct queries, and staying up to date with fast-changing topics.
- Instagram. Instagram is perfect for marketing models such as influencer marketing. As a visual-first platform, it allows your business to communicate a different side to the story. Instagram also features powerful targeted marketing tools, being among the most effective on any social platform.
- LinkedIn. A B2B and B2C social platform, LinkedIn can be good for networking, social proof, and inspiring trust in your business to possible collaborators and clients in your sector.
In practical terms, your social strategy needs to include a detailed content calendar.
First, it is essential to clearly define your audience and consider the kind of content that will appeal to the people that follow your company.
Next, publish your content regularly and on time. Always prioritize video, and image content as these formats are shown to be most effective.
In fact, video marketers receive 66% more qualified leads per year.
9. Use the power of user-generated content
Over 86% of businesses make use of user-generated content in their marketing strategies.
Why? Well, aside from the fact that content created and shared by customers receives much higher engagement, it is also much more cost-effective.
If you create a strong enough brand that users enjoy interacting with, oftentimes people will start talking about your brand online organically.
This could be in the form of viral content like GIFs and memes, or it could be product reviews on YouTube, or people creating filters on Snapchat and Instagram.
One way that your company can encourage user-generated content is by running a competition on different social platforms.
You could try some of the following ideas:
- Run a hashtag contest
- Organize a giveaway in exchange for content such as reviews, memes, or images
- Ask a question
- Create seasonal content
- Personalize your branding
10. Ask for referrals
Referrals work because customers tend to trust tips from other customers or experts more than they will trust paid ads or other types of marketing campaigns.
There are many ways to get referrals, but the most common is to find industry experts, bloggers, or influencers who are willing to refer your company to their followers.
To gain a network of affiliates to provide referrals there are a few practical steps you must follow:
- Perfect your pitch. Some of the best pitches are the simplest. Clearly state your intention and briefly give an overview of your organization, your successes, and your products. Do your research, never send out identical pitches, and always cater your message to the needs of the individual you are pitching to.
- Maintain relationships. Relationships require work to become effective. Keep an open line of communication and always keep your partners up-to-date with any changes.
- Deliver exceptional quality. Remember that in the case of referrals, it is not just your reputation on the line, but also that of the third party. If your product is not up to scratch then both of your reputations will suffer and people will be less likely to work with you moving forward.
11. Reduce risks
It might sound obvious but reducing risk and fostering successful growth go hand in hand.
Risks are anything that might cause your organization to falter or cause an unexpected monetary block that you cannot overcome.
Risks take many forms but some of the most common ways to reduce risks are:
- Getting insurance
- Reducing loans
- Securing data
- Getting legal advice
- Hiring experts
- Diversifying your products
12. Track and tweak
Data, analytics, and testing are some of the most powerful tools at your disposal to encourage intelligent, strategic growth.
While analytics platforms can seem daunting at first it is important to realize that without data you are essentially trying to optimize your website blind.
Data allows you to ask the right questions, and provide the right answers – and thankfully, there are multiple ways to gather this data.
Google Analytics deals with on-site user behavior and can display and track key metrics such as bounce rate, abandonment, session time, and time spent on each page.
Google Search Console deals with inbound traffic, and how users find their way to your website. If your website is showing bad traffic from search engines, it may be time to alter your SEO, including meta and title tags.
Finally, it is important to A/B test everything that you can. A/B testing allows you to compare two different versions of an element to see what performs better for your users.
Just remember that your website needs at least 25,000 visitors per month to achieve reliable results.