Growing your business in a sustainable way isn’t as simple as simple hiring a marketer or a few additional sales people. Picking up the phone, or launching a social media campaign can be an important part of a growth strategy, but it’s not going to transform your position to help you break into new markets or establish you as an innovative leader in your industry.
Developing real, sustainable growth necessarily requires that you study the fuel that drives demand for your business and industry. In doing so, you’ll discover not only how to better identify and reach your target market, but also how to improve your products to better serve existing and future customers.
What does your business do for customers?
All products and services are, from the consumer’s point of view, a means to an end. For example, a reputation management firm’s primary activities generally centre around helping businesses build a positive public image online by addressing criticism and negative content. The immediate service is about protecting a business’ image from potential threats, but that isn’t the client’s core purpose. What the client wants is to be well liked and respected by the public and by potential consumers. To best serve a customer, a great reputation management firm should seek to address that as well as the more superficial issue that they the client might initially have hired them to deal with.
Of course, the factors that drive demand for your business might be far more complex and difficult to pin down with certainty. Think about your customers’ perspectives and what their end goals are, and consider soliciting feedback from them directly to get a solid grasp of what problems they are trying to solve. Gaining the customer insight you need might require a some amount of investment and effort, but it doesn’t have to break your budget.
Using your insights to build demand
Building a complete picture of what your core purpose is for your clients is the most important aspect of understanding your own business’ place in your industry. In doing so, you’ll be better able to serve both your business and your customers.
Expanding into new markets
Sit down and ask yourself who your business’ potential customers really are based on the end result of your product, rather than the product itself. In doing so, you’ll be able to take a more flexible and innovative approach toward product development and market research that can help you identify new potential opportunities.
Sport provides a great example for this. Snowboards, at their most basic level, are a way to maximize the enjoyment of sliding down a steep slope in a controlled manner. Looking at it from this rather abstract description, sandboards seems like an obvious way to innovatively apply a snowboard manufacturer’s existing expertise to reach markets that competitors haven’t even considered engaging.
Besides identifying and reaching new markets, these insights can also help you to improve existing products or services to provide customers with a better experience and more complete solutions. Financial institutions, for example, provide liquid capital in a number of different ways to businesses to help them with a wide variety of cashflow problems. At their core, though, their business is simply ensuring that their clients’ businesses are financially secure and able to pursue their goals. They can better serve their customers, then, by addressing that purpose as fully as possible. Instead of just offering access to great financing tools, they might also offer financial consultations and ongoing expert support to help customers operate with fewer cash flow interruptions in the long run, as we do here at Fifo Capital.
Marketing to the problem
Most marketing focuses on promoting a final packaged product or service that your business can easily produce and sell. This is an efficient way to target well understood markets with well understood needs, but it can also limit your business’ potential to branch out. To help discover new and possibly unexpected markets, insights into demand can help you improve and broaden your marketing strategy. With this you can more effectively begin reaching out to potential customers that previously wouldn’t have been targeted by your efforts.
Work to build greater awareness for the general problems that your product or service can solve, rather than singular specific applications. By doing so, you’re much more likely to catch the attention of new and unexpected potential target markets who typically don’t use or aren’t aware of your industry’s potential for addressing their needs.
By taking the time to understand what drives demand for your business, you also get to the bottom of how what your business is, and what it can be to the general public as well as your existing customers. Using these key insights, you’ll be better able to push the envelope in regard to what you can do for your customers while also competitively leading your industry to new markets.