Getting a business up and running is a necessary first step. But what you really want to do is bring it to scale – the point at which you can reliably make profits.
Okay, great. But what you really want to know is how to grow a small business into a large business? What are the strategies to grow a business?
Use SEO and target lots of low volume/longtail keywords
SEO is the lifeblood of modern businesses. Without it, it is almost impossible to gain any attention in today’s crowded online marketplace. Thus, unless you’re speaking directly to the ranking algorithms themselves, you’re up the creek without a paddle.
Don’t target generic “short-tail” keywords. The competition for these is fierce, and, typically, they don’t accurately reflect the products and services you sell anyway.
Instead, target longtail keywords: those that are more than three words and relate to your niche. In your keyword research, look for phrases that indicate intent. Find terms that suggest users want to buy something and are not just searching for information.
Please note that many of your competitors will not often be targeting longtail keywords yet, lowering competition. For that reason, targeting them allows you to rank faster for phrases relevant to your business, letting you build authority in your industry quickly while bypassing your competitors at the same time.
Create a free training course
Clients need authority figures in their lives who can provide them with answers upfront: gurus they can approach who can just fix whatever problem they have. They don’t want to learn everything from scratch. Thus, giving valuable and useful information to your ideal clients free of charge often boosts sales.
Often, business clients want to learn about your services so that they can apply them in-house at a later date. However, during the training process, they discover that getting to grips with all the nuances is impractical. Learning your craft, they find out, is going to cost them considerable time and resources.
For this reason, you should see training as a kind of marketing exercise. Yes – you’re providing your clients with valuable information that they can use. But you’re also using it as an opportunity to make it clear that doing the job well requires a lot of investment. Eventually, the wheels in their heads will begin to turn, and they will figure out that going to you is much better than trying to do it alone. It’s the sort of scheme that Darth Sidious from Star Wars would cook up. But it works.
Use social media (the right way)
Many small businesses treat social media platforms as just another platform to flog their goods and services. But the pros never take this approach. They know that people use social media differently than regular search: general relaxation, communication, and entertainment. Thus, the ethos of social media marketing is necessarily different. When you advertise on social media, you’re not going for the hard sale. Instead, you’re looking for alternative ways to provide value to your ideal clients.
The first step for effective social media outreach is to identify your buyer persona if you haven’t done this already. You need to have a good picture of who you’re trying to sell to before you start generating any content. Once you’ve figured that out, the next step is to provide your ideal client with something that they want to hear about. Think about how you might contribute to their lives in some meaningful way. Ask the following questions:
- What do they want to hear about most?
- What don’t they know yet that they should?
- What type of content will they find the most entertaining?
- In what ways are they struggling, and how can you help them?
- What type of inspirational content will they find the most appealing?
You get the picture.
Cold outreach still works, but you need to stand out!
Cold outreach has fallen out of favor over recent years, thanks to the rise of modern inbound marketing techniques. With that said, the approach can still work, but only if you do it right.
The trick is to find ways to stand out from the crowd. Many companies call prospective clients hoping for business, but they fail to provide sufficient value. Often “marketing” simply involves presenting the target customer with a list of prices – not exactly inspiring!
Making your outreach personal can help you differentiate yourself from others in your industry. You want to make it appear as though you have spent a long time thinking about your client’s actual needs. They should come away from the interaction without suspecting that they’re just on a calling list along with thousands of other people. It should feel like you’ve specifically considered them in some way.
There are all kinds of things that you can do. Here are some options:
- Write them a unique letter explaining the current problems that they have and how you can solve them
- Create a video that shows them how you would address the current issues that they have
- Offer a free, no-obligation trial of your product so that they can figure out whether it has value or not
- Ask to provide an in-person demonstration to their team
- Offer a free support period
Where possible, try to think of things that your competitors are not doing. Look for ways to make your outreach low-cost and high-impact. Always keep one eye on your expected ROI.
Networking is critical when you’re trying to propel a business towards growth. The more people you can bring into your social circle, the more opportunities you have to sell, form partnerships, and gain introductions.
Despite COVID-19, networking today is easier than ever. Digital conferencing tools like Zoom are giving busy business leaders opportunities to meet many more people worldwide without traveling physically. This change in paradigm cuts costs while also allowing executives to cast their social nets wider.
On a practical level, you need to consider networking carefully. Don’t put it on the back burner or assume that it will happen by itself. Instead, be proactive. Schedule time every week in your diary for conferencing with people over Zoom/online and build solid relationships. The more interactions you have with people, the greater the influence you will have, and the tighter the connections you will form with them. Ideally, it should become a ritual and routine part of the week – something that multiple members of your team can join in with.
Many new business leaders believe that they need to bring as many tasks in-house as possible. Cost-saving is at the top of the agenda.
If you’re in this boat, you might want to rethink your position. While you shouldn’t outsource your core competencies – the things that give your enterprise unique value – there’s a strong case for farming out tedious, dull, repetitive, and technical tasks to third parties.
There are two primary reasons for this. First, outsourcing reduces your opportunity costs. Because outsourcing reduces the time you spend on administrative grunt work, you have more time to dedicate to the things that allow you to generate real value. You’re not spending all your time worrying about your accounting or IT resources. Somebody else is taking care of all that background stuff for you.
Second, some types of outsourcing can help your business to grow. Doing marketing and advertising work yourself may generate positive results. But you will rarely do a better job than full-time experts who have spent years acquiring business skills and experience. Farming this out to third-parties can enhance your appeal to your target audience, refine your messages, and boost your brand.
Furthermore, sophisticated experts can also create marketing plans tailored to your business. These bespoke strategies give you a framework for capitalizing on your strengths and findings ways to carve out a niche separate from your competitors.
It might be dull, but being consistent is the primary way to win the game in business. Most new business leaders, however, don’t appreciate this. That’s because you don’t see the fruits of consistency when you’re just starting. Over time, though, you notice that the things that worked the best were precisely the areas where you were the most repetitive.
The average startup company has an annoying habit of jumping around all over the place when trying to define their offering. Many embark on a multitude of different tactics to get their enterprises to grow, trying everything from SEO to adjusted hiring practices.
But these experiments often yield inconclusive results – primarily because new businesses don’t stick with them long enough to evaluate them properly. When it comes to growing a business, strategies often take a long time to play out. This principle particularly applies to companies with extended buying cycles. It could take many months for your sales techniques to yield rewards.
Here’s some advice: pick a strategy and stick with it. Just because something doesn’t work right away doesn’t mean that it lacks value. The market will always reward compelling products and services eventually.
Know your worth
When trying to figure out how to grow a small business, you need to know your worth. A lot of founders, however, don’t. The most common mistake is charging too little under the mistaken belief that this will help boost business and undermine your competitors.
This strategy leads to a couple of problems. One is that it has a nasty habit of attractive cheap clients who want it all but aren’t willing to pay you enough money to make the effort worthwhile. Also, bargain hunters tend to cause more aggravation as a group, making your business less efficient.
Attracting high-paying clients, by contrast, can help your business grow much faster. Not only do they tend to cause fewer problems, but they are also more likely to associate with other high-value prospects, giving your business a word-of-mouth boost.
Offering incentive-based referrals (such as money off your services) can also help to propel business growth. If existing customers can act as sales agents on behalf of your firm, you’re much more likely to see new customers coming through the door.
Finally, companies will also often enter the market charging high prices, only to discover that their target market is laughing at them and going to their competitors. Always conduct proper research beforehand.
Get good at customer service to get good referrals
If you ask experienced entrepreneurs how to grow a small business, they’ll often tell you to get good customer service referrals. In practice, this means going above and beyond, delivering experiences well beyond what clients expect.
Most customers will have a pre-formed idea in their heads about the quality of service that they will get from you, and they’ll expect you to deliver something along these lines. When you go beyond this, you immediately differentiate yourself from your rivals. Suddenly, customers notice you and get a strong sense that you’re committed to quality in a way that your competitors are not. Almost instinctively, they tell their peers about you, leading to an explosion in your enterprise’s referral traffic.
Don’t be frightened to spend money
If you’re struggling to figure out how to grow a small business, it could be because you’re frightened to spend the required money. Many startups and small business owners are afraid of splashing out – even on the right things – because they see it as an unrecoverable cost instead of an investment that will generate more earnings in the future.
If possible, try to avoid this viewpoint and look at all your spending from an investment perspective. Don’t look at the sticker price of something you need and reject it solely on that basis. Instead, try to figure out whether it will help you grow.
This point is the critical difference between firms that continue to expand and those that don’t. Those who aren’t afraid of spending can often see the bigger picture of an investment and eventually pay for itself.
Large investments with substantial returns could include a professional website that converts, outsourced SEO and PPC ads, social media ads, and professional content writing. Measure and track your returns to confirm whether you’re spending in the right places.