Posted on Fri, Nov 09, 2012

Three key ways to grow your businessMany business owners think there are a whole host of ways to increase business and fuel their growth. Some thnk that having a great product is the only thing you need. If you build a better moustrap they will come. That may work for Apple, but more often than not, that strategy fails.

Others think that having a big advertising and marketing budget is the answer. If you want to get more business, you just need to spend more money in advertising, right? Broadcasting your message through tradititional advertising, whether it be print, radio or TV has got to be the most effective way to get people to buy lots of your product or service. There are two big problems with this approach: first, most businesses can't afford the ad rates charged by these mediums to get sufficient coverage of their target markets; and second, there are too many ways now for people to filter out interruptive and inconvenient advertisements. Satellite radio and personal video recorders are used to filter out unwanted messages; print ads can be easily ignored. 

How about internet marketing through pay-per-click (PPC)? Yes, PPC can help get you to the top of search engine results on your targeted keywords, but today PPC tactics are used by many companies targeting the same keywords. Because of this, the cost per click on many keywords has steadily risen to the point where it is not as viable as it used to be to pursue a PPC strategy, especially for smaller businesses. On top of that, if there is no call to action on the pages that people land on, then your potential customers will be left at a dead end wondering what to do next. Not a great impression to leave with your potential customers. A poorly managed PPC program can burn a hole in your pocket with very little return.

The good news is there are really only three ways to increase your business:

1. Increase your number of customers

But, you may ask, don't you have to spend a lot of money to increase the number customers you have? Today, most business don't need to have a large marketing budget in order to attract a targeted audience that wants to buy their product or service. Traditional marketing and advertising approaches are expensive because they rely on a "casting the net" approach. Cast your net as widely as possible into the water and hope that you catch the fish you aim to catch. Most businesses today already have a website, but most companies under-utilize it. Your website can be your most important marketing asset. If your business uses the website tools available to it wisely, you can attract the customers that are looking specifically for your product or service. With a little hard work in developing blog articles and creating free on-line offers, your potential customers will find you. Blogging is a great way to add interesting content to your site so you can get more traffic and leads - and it's inexpensive too.

You can begin a dialogue with a whole new customer base who are looking for what you have to offer. The best part of this: it is a much lower cost marketing approach than the traditional route. Companies who create, optimize and promote their blogs get 55% more traffic and 70% more leads. The average cost per lead for companies who spend at least 50% of their marketing budget on this approach is 60% lower than for businesses that mostly use traditional marketing approaches.

2. Increase the average size of the sale per client

Once you have a larger following of existing and new potential customers, create some great free offers in the form of eBooks, toolkits and white papers to name a few. Add in some engaging calls to action and these potential customers will be willing to give you their email addresses in exchange for your offers.

It's really not that hard to do. You started your business because you have a great product or service that you really believe in, and you know more about that product or service than most people. All you have to do is educate your audience on what you know and what makes it so great. Most companies already have technical papers, fact sheets and other sales materials that can be re-purposed into remarkable, useful and interesting content such as white papers, eBooks, toolkits, case studies and YouTube videos. Your audience will love these and consider you the subject matter expert. And they will return to you again and again. This is a lower cost way of advertising your product or service by leveraging your most important marketing asset - your existing website.

3. Increase the number of times clients return and buy again

Once you have your audience converting on your offers and downloading your content, you need to make sure they return to your site to explore your latest blog articles and newest offers.  The simplest way to continue the dialogue with your audience and customers is through lead nurturing email marketing. This is an effective tool when used to engage potential customers on their terms. They have given you permission to continue the dialogue with them and they are more receptive to your communications. You are no longer interrupting people in an attempt to 'sell' your product or service. By letting them know about offers or content that they may be specifically interested in, you increase the probability that they will return and buy again from you.

If you can execute on these three steps to increasing your business, there will be an unexpected, pleasant development. The customers that meet both items two and three can become your best customers or your 'key accounts'. These customers are strategic to the growth of your business. If developed and managed properly, these strategic accounts leverage your whole business' sales efforts. These key accounts generally account for a large percentage of your company's total revenue, but require only slightly more resources to manage than smaller accounts. Often, these key accounts are leaders or key influencers in their respective markets. They can provide you with excellent opportunities to learn best business practices. These leaders demand that their suppliers become learning partners so that they improve their knowledge and skills to achieve the same level of sophistication. In this way, both organizations can grow and succeed together. Most companies that invest in a company-wide strategic account management program achieve significant revenue growth with their strategic accounts in the first twelve months following implementation.


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Tags: Strategic Account Management, blogging, marketing on a shoestring budget, Inbound Marketing, marketing with limited resources, Key Accounts