A key goal of every business is finding ways to innovate, grow and expand organically. Businesses that fail to innovate and grow are at risk of losing ground to competitors, losing pivotal staff, or simply operating inefficiently. Before a business can begin looking at ways to expand, the fundamentals of sound business practice such as good customer service, quality products and services, and an empowered workforce need to be in place. Once an organisation has committed itself to these fundamentals, it can begin to focus on other ways to grow its brand name and customer base, utilising social media and other marketing strategies for that extra boost!
Here are ten ideas for ways to expand your business, starting with the basics:
1. Get to know your customers
It’s imperative to understand your customers’ needs so that you can tailor your products and services to suit. To gain more insight into both existing and prospective customers, consider reviewing company sales data, conducting customer satisfaction surveys, or analysing survey results gathered through general market research relevant to your industry. Personal interviews or focus groups with customers may also provide valuable feedback. Simply having an informal conversation with customers to find out their insights about your business can be a very useful tool. At TTP we consider every sale as an opportunity to learn more about what matters to our customers!
2. Provide a quality product or service
Consumers have more autonomy than ever before, thanks to social media, easy on-line comparison-shopping, and an abundance of choices. Be sure that you are delivering on promises and providing good value for money in a very competitive market. This is something our contractors at TTP strive to do for our customers at all times, often under very tight deadlines!
3. Develop a positive organisational culture
Treating your staff, contractors, customers and business contacts with respect will engender loyalty that is priceless to your business. It has been said that a loyal customer could be worth up to ten times the amount they originally spend. Likewise, a well recruited, trained and remunerated workforce will be far more productive and go that extra mile for your business. They are also likely to remain at your organisation for much longer, ensuring retention of organisation-specific skills and knowledge, saving managers time, money, and the obvious headaches associated with recruitment and training of new staff.
4. Act with honesty and integrity in your business transactions
Be honest at all times in your business communication. If you are struggling to deliver a product or service on time let your customers know as soon as possible. They will appreciate the advance notice and also respect your honesty. Ensure that any feedback to your business, including questions or complaints, is responded to promptly and appropriately. Keep in mind that employee feedback is as important as customer feedback so it is crucial to keep internal channels of communication open. This is best achieved within an honest and respectful culture where employees at all levels feel safe to express ideas or observations.
5. Charge a competitive fee
Ensure that your pricing structure is clear, simple to understand, and competitive, relative to similar businesses in the market. You will need to conduct industry-wide research to achieve this.
6. Offer something different or unique to make your business stand out for its service and value
The key here is to offer a product or service that differentiates your business from the competition, giving you a competitive advantage. At TTP we provide professional proofreading as part of the normal transcription rate and not as an extra service. Our fee also includes compiling client terminology documents for our team, to ensure future consistency and quality. This is a feature that is unique to our organisation, making us a cost-effective rather than ‘more expensive’ option.
Think outside the box to see if you can solve a problem for prospective customers, offer a guarantee on service, and/or deliver more than you originally promised. Make sure you communicate this competitive edge clearly in all advertising material!
7. Use social media effectively to advertise and promote your business without great expenditure
Measure what works for you on social media and be willing to adapt. Although growing your customer base organically is preferable, it doesn’t hurt to consider a paid campaign at a small cost, for example, on Facebook, to increase your market exposure. In managing your social media profile be careful not to spread yourself too thin across a multitude of platforms; focus instead on where you will obtain the greatest engagement and value for your time.
8. Consider advertising on the radio, newspaper or television if you have the budget!
Paid advertisements in local newspapers, radio stations and the television can reach a much larger audience and prove useful in gaining you valuable market exposure. These avenues require careful budgeting and need to be targeted to the appropriate audience.
9. Regularly post blogs and updates to your company website to increase Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Publishing blog content on a regular basis can help you to build your brand recognition, position you as a thought leader and demonstrate your company’s expertise. It can also help to drive more organic traffic to your site. Consider adding popular and industry-related keywords to your blog headings, as well as cleverly positioning these buzz words within the beginning and ending paragraphs to increase the SEO of your blog.
At TTP we publish a monthly blog to our website to provide informative and thought-provoking business tips to others based on our own experience, and to encourage traffic to our site. We share links to these blogs via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
10. Make the most of your networks
Encourage your customers to tell others about the great value and service they’ve received from your company. Word-of-mouth recommendations are incredibly well trusted. In line with this, take heed: it has been said that one satisfied customer will tell three friends, but angry customers tell 3,000. The ease and ubiquity of communication on social media has expanded the reach of a single unhappy customer who could now literally tell millions!
There are many things that your company can do to grow its customer base, from tailoring products and services to best suit both current and prospective clients, providing value for money, motivating and empowering your workforce, acting with honesty and integrity in all business communications, finding a competitive advantage, effectively using social media to promote your business, creating regular and original content on your website, and networking. Before you look to expand, it’s important to focus on the fundamentals of good business practice, from which you can launch into marketing strategies to best facilitate and enhance the growth of your business.