Over my 20 years of marketing experience growing a range of companies across different industries I’ve developed and implemented a range of growth marketing strategies. Some worked brilliantly (“I am a god!”). Some flopped (“f#@k!”). And some just kind of ticked along yielding mediocre results (“yawn, is it 5pm yet?”).
Invariably all of these strategies had some variation of these 4 objectives:
- More sales leads.
- More new customers.
- More repeat purchases from existing customers.
- Lower costs per sale.
In this article I want to share the 8 Growth Marketing Principles which I have found, through years of trial and error, will consistently help generate growth for almost any business. Conversely, ignoring these principles will often lead to expensive and frustrating growth roadblocks along the way.
As a wise man once said: get your head out of the sand and learn from other’s mistakes and successes before I fire you!
The 8 Growth Marketing Principles
1) Have a Profitable & Scalable Business Model
You can have the best marketing in the world but if your business model is flawed then the more you grow the more problems you will face. Either because your business has no economies of scale (lower costs per sale the more you sell) or worse it ends up losing you money the more your customers use it. You don’t want to be in either situation.
What makes a business model flawed? Typically it’s to do with its ability to scale effectively. You need to ensure that the production and delivery of your product/service is designed in a way that allows you to a) lower your costs per sale the more you sell (thus increasing profits) and b) to expand sales volume without being constrained by finite resources (e.g people, space, etc). It’s critical that you address this situation before you start investing in major growth strategies to avoid getting stuck with an invested business that can’t grow.
2) Define Your Target Customers & Their Pain Points
It’s critical that you take the time to understand and define who your target customers really are. I don’t just mean in terms of demographics like gender, age and income level. I mean especially on what pain points they have and how your business could help solve these. This is an often skipped process by many marketers who just have a superficial understand of who they are trying to reach. Problem is that if you don’t take the time to do this then no matter what you do you will see mediocre results because in today’s market there are just too many options available to customers for them to be interested in generic products that don’t perfectly match their needs. So spend time with your customers via primary research or get on the internet and use search and social tools to find out what problems they face and how you can help them solve those.
3) Clearly Position Your Business To Solve Their Pain Point
Once you understand how your business can solve your target customers’ problems make sure you clearly position and communicate your business in that way. Your offering needs to stand out and be immediately relevant to your prospects. Don’t make them think too hard. Hook them from the first time they see your brand. At a minimum they need to see enough to want to call you or visit your website. Don’t assume that all you need to do is show some clever visual or ad and that they will figure it out. Customers are inundated with marketing messages every minute or every hour of every day. Yours is just one of them. They don’t have time to sit there and interpret your clever marketing – they just wanna go back to looking at cat and dog videos on Facebook!
4) Develop A Measurable Marketing Plan
Put in place an effective marketing strategy and plan. Develop clear measurable objectives. Start with broad long term business objectives and cascade those down into specific objectives for each of your campaigns or tactics. Taking the time to clearly define these will allow you to evaluate the success of your marketing. More importantly they will provide milestones that will allow you to course-correct if you realise that your marketing is not delivering what it should.
These objectives will often vary based on your business type. Ideally you want to try and tie them to business growth in some way. That could be sales, new leads, or even just generating traffic to your website. However ensure that they are not too broad that they become meaningless. They need to be suited to the tactic or medium being used. Evaluating a Facebook advertising campaign with just a broad objective of increasing sales or marketshare is pointless unless your business can generate sales directly from Facebook.
5) Reach Your Prospects Effectively & Efficiently
Use the right communication marketing mix to let your prospects know about your business. You want that mix to be both effective & efficient. Effective means that your communications clearly get your message across in the most relevant manner for your target customers. Efficient means that the cost to reach (and acquire) each customer does not exceed the value your business can derive from a successful sale.
A key part of this will be figuring out what marketing channels and platforms to use. Should you use press ads or radio? What about Facebook, Instagram or Google? Do you need a website? A blog? What about direct sales? The good news is you definitely don’t need to use everything. The hard part is deciding what to leave out.
The ideal solution will be determined in part by your available budget (some mediums will be out of your reach), what your target customers consume but also critically by what suits your business sales process. For example, if you’re a business that needs direct face to face interaction with a prospect to complete a sale, then you want to make sure your communication mediums allow for an effective way to capture a lead so that you can initiate that direct communication. The last thing you want to do is start wasting money on mass mediums like radio or TV that make capturing a lead very difficult.
6) Lead Processing – Capture, Track & Automate
That you have a proper lead capture and follow up system in place. Basically a CRM of some sorts. This is critical but so often forgotten by businesses.So potential customers start responding to the marketing efforts but then there is no CRM in place to capture their details. Sales people are not informed and nobody follows up. And if they do follow up there is no tracking in place to measure the outcome, so before you know it you’ve spent alot of money on marketing but have no idea what works and what doesn’t.
There are many tools available in the market for this. Picking the right ones will depend on your business needs, scale and budget. The good news is that many of the tools are now SAAS (Software As A Service) based and therefore can be deployed quickly and relatively cheaply, often for a fraction of what your advertising budget is. No point spending thousands or millions on advertising and not having even a basic system in place to measure and use the leads generated. Yet I still see business owners who do this everyday! Please don’t be one of them.
7) Continuously Optimise Your Marketing
Remember how we established clear objectives, an effective and efficient communications plan and a CRM to track results? This is where they all come together and you use the data to optimise your marketing and sales strategies to make them even better. This is what will allow you to gradually lower your cost per acquisition/sale. Measure the effectiveness of each of your channels and campaigns. Test your marketing via A/B testing your communications. Know what works and what doesn’t. And scale your business by doing more, much more of what works and kill what doesn’t.
This principle is very useful when it comes to rolling out new products and services. Often at that stage, even if you did spend the time to understand your customers, you can’t be certain your marketing will resonate with them. So if you have the above steps in place, you can do a limited launch, gather results, tweak via A/B testing and when you have found the optimum message/medium you can then proceed to the full blown campaign. This will give your marketing a much better chance of delivering the results you want.
8) Deploy The Right Marketing Team & Resources For Success
Good growth marketing requires effort and that needs good dedicated people to do it. If you think all of this can be done by your admin temp staff who also fills in as your finance and HR director then…well…good luck!
So seriously, you will either need in-house employees or work with the right outsourced partners or agencies who can create and run the process for you. You want a good balance of experience and attitude. And this team will then need to be equipped with the right tools to do their job. This often costs just a fraction of what you will spend on actual advertising or communications but it is essential to reap maximum benefits. Time and again I have seen business owners be ready to spend millions on advertising but then not be willing to pay a small retainer to engage a good team or agency. This results at best in a mediocre marketing effort but at worst in a complete brand disaster. Ofcourse how much you need depends on the nature and size of your business. But remember the saying, you pay peanuts you get monkeys!
So there you have it – 8 Marketing Principles that any business can use to grow more effectively and efficiently. It’s not necessarily easy to put them all in play, especially if you don’t have experienced marketers on your team. However that is something that can be fixed either by hiring or working with a good consultant or agency. If you take the time and effort to do so I can assure you will see better results.