How marketing can grow your business

4th, Apr 2017

Do you know what it takes to grow your business? At a recent program hosted by The Alternative Board, speaker, Pete Hayes of Chief Outsiders, spoke about how the right “Insight, Strategy and Execution” can drive business growth.

There were many great takeaways from the program, but as a marketing consultant to professional services firms, I think these are some of the key ones:

1. Understand your purpose and positioning. It is crucial for firms to have a clear message about what work they do, and more importantly, why that’s relevant to clients. They need to specifically express how their services help clients and offer unique value. Many firms just list their services without talking about how they solve client’s problems and in what ways they are different from competitors.

2. Analyze how you make money. Too few firms actually look at their business critically. Often they don’t know which types of matters are the most profitable. They may know which ones generate the most revenue, but they don’t take the extra step of looking at their profitability. How much did they actually collect after write-offs or discounts? Are they properly accounting for all time and costs related to a matter? Different types of work may be more or less profitable. Of course, it may be worth keeping less lucrative work for other business reasons, but firms should analyze their rationale.

3. Clients are not equally valuable. Many firms also don’t look at who are their best and worst clients. Again they should look at profitability, but also look at other factors, such as how long do clients take to pay, do they repeatedly request that you write off time or reduce bills, are they unreasonably demanding or difficult, what is the potential to upsell them additional services, and are they likely to provide referrals? Often firms will market to or keep “C list” clients because they fear losing the revenue, instead of getting rid of these clients and freeing up time to market to better clients. By the same token, it’s important to make sure the best clients are especially satisfied and happy and you maximize that relationship for additional gain.

4. Determine where your growth should come from. Is it from going into new markets, providing new services, getting more business from existing clients, pricing, or another way? In order to identify where is the best growth potential, firms need to do research to understand the marketplace, including their target audiences, competitors and economic or industry trends. Once a direction is chosen, firms need to devise appropriate strategies for how best to market and position themselves.

5. Have a plan. It is essential to have a strategic marketing plan which lays out the resources allocated to the plan, what tactics will be used and how success will be measured. Too many growth initiatives fail because of poor planning and execution. There is no magic bullet which will lead to business growth. It requires a serious commitment and a lot of work.

6. Invest what it’s worth to you. Firms frequently ask how much to spend on marketing. The real question is how much is it worth to acquire a new client. It’s important to analyze the average lifetime value of a client – not just in terms of direct revenue from them, but also what other business may come because of them (referrals, reputational benefits, future growth potential, etc.). Then consider how much it makes sense to invest in gaining new clients based on the goals for the business. Of course, it is also necessary to consider how to spend that money – that is, which types of marketing are most likely to generate a return on investment.

As Pete Hayes stated, “many businesses want to grow, but if they want to succeed they need to focus on the fundamentals: 1) Gaining insight on their firm, clients and competitors; 2) Thinking strategically about their markets, offerings and position; and 3) Executing their plan with the proper resources, tactics and metrics.”

Thanks to Pete Hayes and The Alternative Board for a great program.

Interested in using marketing to grow your business? Contact us for a consultation.

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