Some say the economy is turning around and business should be improving. We asked several business owners what they would suggest as a growth strategy over the next few months to make an organization more visible, more appealing to current and potential customers. Here are their thoughts on business growth strategies:
“Good economy or bad, the number one thing I tell business owners is that you need to understand why people buy and what makes their experience with your company good. Then you need to reaffirm your customers’ good experience and use that same message as an enticement for prospects. Those messages are best delivered directly through personal selling or non-personal direct contact.” Stephen Eckert, President, Eckert Marketing and Communications
“Our approach at Carnegie Science Center has been to become even more visitor focused than we had been. It means for us, trying to provide a product mix that is responsive to visitor needs and interests. This has been accomplished by paying keen attention to customer service, making sure our product mix is relevant to our audience, partnering wherever possible to provide maximum impact for the time/dollars invested and thinking ‘regionally’ versus locally.” Ron Baillie, Carnegie Science Center
“Businesses should keep in mind that renewed growth requires working capital–cash. As sales potential increases, so will the need for cash. The same is true for your customers, they are ordering from you because their sales have picked up, and so has their need for cash. Keep an eye on your company’s cash flow, be cognizant that your customers may not have their eye on their cash and may find cash too tight to pay you in a timely fashion, make advance payments as they did in the past, or other accommodations that helped your cash flow. The same is true for your vendors, they also need cash to grow and will be less able to provide extended terms or wait patiently for payment. Growth will strain cash, know your cash needs, anticipate your customers’ demands and be aware of your vendors’ requirements.” Marilyn Landis, President, Basic Business Concepts, Inc.
“Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, Wall Street’s leading Internet Analyst, is back with a vengeance, and writes recently “….The Internet is still in the early stages of becoming a central communications, information, commerce and entertainment medium. There are 750 million users worldwide using the internet an estimated 30 to 45 minutes per day. The number of internet users will grow 15 percent a year, fueled by greater broadband availability and access in non-U.S. markets…..”Given this trend, developing a growth strategy that incorporates and leverages the power of the internet or reviewing your current Internet strategy would be a good first step in responding to an economic turnaround.” Deborah Moses, Executive Director, PowerLink
“Customer service, customer service, customer service. This is the mantra which I believe is the heart of any business. Just like for home buying it is location, location, location. If your customer service is outstanding, you will differentiate your business from others. This will retain customers as well as bring in new ones.” Marcia Barber, CEO, Girl Scouts Trillium Council
“I do think things are beginning to turn. I have seen many industries starting to get aggressive. My advice to anyone that wants to position themselves for this market is to emphasize how they can help with their clients’ GROWTH. I believe businesses are tired of playing defense and are ready to look at how to strategically become more aggressive and implement growth strategies. I don’t really care what product you are selling, target it to the growth of your client organizations. If is equipment, will it grow with your prospect? If it is services, will you be able to handle the client’s growth and how do you intend to grow with your clients? Finally, I would try to show the prospects how you have helped others navigate this economy and how your product or services have helped them to expand their business. I would be far less concerned with showing how you have helped others cut back. If your product is a savings, great, but don’t only emphasize the savings. Show how the savings is a side benefit to the real value, growth.” Buddy Hobart, President and CEO, Solutions 21
“The media look for local angles to national news stories, so position your CEO to the media as a leading industry authority who can provide a local perspective and background on key economic issues.” Mary Gilbert, President, Gilbert Group
“It’s much easier to keep a good client than to find a new good client. Make sure that every client is continually well served and not taken for granted. Go the extra mile for each client as you did when they were a new client. Make opportunities to ask current clients for referrals. Word of mouth is always a great way to get new business.” Susan Gove, Gove Group, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA
4 Tips to Business Growth
- Be well known for quality. Many organizations offer the same product or service you offer. Be known for offering the finest quality of what you sell.
- Toot your own horn. Keep the PR going so that your current and potential clients will know that you are well known in the business community. They want to work with a winner!
- Stay connected. Develop a strategy to truly stay in touch with your clients’ needs.
- Think ahead. Position yourself to anticipate the future needs of your clients.