When It comes to developing your business, it’s important to have a strategy for how you’re going to grow and develop. For business owners, this strategy needs to support day-to-day operations while still allotting resources towards innovation and development.
A strategic business plan should be flexible, yet consistent. A common catch-all word for this kind of development is scalability. As a business owner, you’ve probably heard of this, or even used it.
A scalable strategy is one that will allow you to implement systems that not only promote your growth but work to keep current workflows in place or even optimize them.
Having a well throughout plan for your development is crucial for achieving your business growth goals. This plan will act as a road map and a metric to let you know that you’re on track to hit your targets or let you know when and where you’re at risk of falling short.
Now, we’re not the first people to talk about strategic business development. There is a lot of different literature and resources out there on growth models. And the truth is, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
The purpose of this article is to help you identify and develop the key components of a business that will hit their growth goals. These 5 keys will act as benchmarks for you realign yourself with your goals and give you direction if you’re not quite sure what the next step in business development is.
So, without further adieu, let’s dive into the 5 keys to developing your business.
Research Your Target Market
When it comes to developing your business, knowing your target audience is crucial. In today’s day and age, your biggest hurdle will be reaching a big audience while maintaining the personal touches that draw people in.
Thoroughly researching your target customer will allow you to intimately understand their pain points, needs, behaviors, and motivations. For B2B businesses especially, this will help you develop products and services that truly resonate with your audience.
There are several methods you can use to gain these important customer insights. Some of our favorites are launching surveys and studying your competitors.
Surveys are a straightforward way to gather quantitative and qualitative data directly from your potential customers. Well-designed surveys can highlight unique demographics, problems customers face, how they currently solve those problems, and what they would ideally want in a solution.
The downside of surveys is that they can often have a low response rate. One, often underrated, way to offset this is by being sure that you’re asking and making the survey accessible. Maybe, you place a QR code with the survey on your front counter, landing page, or offer it with some type of incentivisation.
Study your competitors
While this is probably something you’re already doing, taking the time to really dig into your competitors process will give you valuable insight. Examine their products, messaging, websites, and marketing materials.
This will help you find the white space (aka opportunities) where customers’ needs are not being adequately met. You can then design an offering to satisfy those unmet needs and pull clientele away from your customer.
A great example can be seen with the ride sharing companies Lyft and Uber. When Lyft broke into the ride-share market, they needed to offer something that would make Ubers massive customer base look for another option.
What they came up with was more flexible payment options. The ability to split rides, call for friends, and rate drivers gave consumers a reason to think twice about how they were getting around. By filling in the “white-space” Lyft was able to successfully develop in a monopolized market.
For small business owners this highlights that when you get clarity on your target market’s needs, you can make product and marketing decisions that align with what customers actually want and your business goals.
Create Your Value Proposition
In today’s market, consumers are more discerning than ever about the values of the companies they are supporting. A strong value proposition is essential for effectively marketing to and attracting your ideal customers.
At its core, your value proposition should communicate why your company is the best option to solve your customers’ problems. It will appeal to both the logical and emotional component of making a purchasing decision.
After you’ve studied your ideal customer, take a hard look at your clients needs and values. Then, compare it to what you’re offering and what your competitors are offering. This will help you understand how to write your value propostion.
Your value proposition will be the statement that succinctly states who your target customer is, the problem you solve, and why you do it better than your competition. With your positioning clear, convey it through your value proposition.
An effective value proposition follows a simple formula:
1. It identifies the target customer and their problem
2. It explains how your product uniquely solves that problems.
3. It speaks directly to the customer with an active voice.
An example of a value proposition for a digital media company may look like this:
“For brands aiming to increase awareness among millennials, our digital media company creates viral video and social media campaigns tailored to engage the mobile-first generation. Work with us to authentically connect with your perfect customer.”
This value proposition clearly states who its target audience is:
“Brands aiming to increase awareness among millennials.”
It also has a clear call to action that uses an empathetic verbiage audience:
“Work with us to authentically connect.”
Alternatively, a restaurant value proposition may be a little broader, like this:
“For foodies in search of elevated farm-to-table cuisine, our restaurant offers a fine dining experience featuring locally-sourced ingredients and creative recipes prepared by our expert chefs. Dine with us for an unmatched culinary adventure.”
From here you have the foundational element for a value proposition that truly resonates and will help you develop your business in a scalable way.
From here, you will use your value proposition to direct other aspects of your business as it grows.
Set long term and short term goals
Setting goals is crucial for business development. At N-Compass we believe that all goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, aka SMART.
In addition to giving you direction, setting both short term and long-term goals will give you a benchmark for determining your growth.
Begin by developing some long term goals. Where do you want to be in the next year, five years, and ten years? Again, keep in mind these need to be specific and measurable.
Some long-term SMART goals may be:
1. Develop 3 new product offerings to extend our portfolio in the next 1-2 years based on customer feedback and market research.
2. Grow annual revenue by 20% within the next 18 months by expanding our product line and entering new markets.
3. Build an in-house marketing department with 5 new hires in the next year to bring key functions in-house.
When we look at these goals, we can see that the department expansion is specific and scheduled. The revenue growth target and timeframe are quantified. And, while some timelines are flexible, the goal is still actionable and accountable to that timeframe.
Once you’ve settled on long term goals. Develop the short-term goals that will support that growth.
Some examples of short-term SMART goals could be:
1. Acquire 5 new clients in the next 3 months through networking events and cold calling.
2. Increase social media following by 10% in the next 2 months by posting daily content and running targeted ads.
3. Contact at least 2 potential strategic partners per week over the next 2 months to discuss collaboration opportunities.
Setting both short and long-term SMART goals helps drive business development by laying out a clear roadmap for growth. The timeframes, metrics and actions should be realistic and relevant to move the business forward.
It’s also important to be consistently reviewing and updating the goals you set. This allows you to actively adapt to your business landscape while maintaining your forward momentum.
Build Partnerships and Strategic Alliances
Building strategic partnerships is the bread and butter of developing your business, especially when it comes to B2B sales. Once you’ve set your goals, ask yourself: Who can help me achieve them
By asking this question, you’ll be able to determine where to put your energy.
At N-Compass, one of the biggest tools we recommend to our clients is to join the local chamber of commerce. This is the perfect place to cultivate genuine partnerships, without the pressure of having to pitch.
We also recommend leaning on your existing relationships. Think beyond your social circle. If you have a regular doctor, coffee shop, or even mechanic that you visit ask yourself: Could they benefit from my service?
More than likely, the answer is yes. Once you’ve established how you will benefit them, ask yourself: How will they benefit me?
In the world of indoor digital billboards and advertising sales, strategic alliances often mean looking at a prospective lead in terms of how they will make your service more desirable or give you the exposure to reach your target clientele.
For example, if you want to pitch Harley Davidson to advertise with you, you’ll likely have more success if you can offer them the chance to advertise in front of their audience, right?
This might mean that you strategically develop partnerships with a few biker bars across town. This way, when you pitch Harley Davidson to advertise with you, you have the prebuilt network to support their marketing goals.
For those who are not in the out of home industry, the same concept applies.
When it comes to business development, you want to develop partnerships with individuals and businesses who will eventually add value to your business by getting you new clients or helping you expand into markets beyond your niche.
As you develop these strategic partnerships, it’s important to keep in mind that they should be complementary to your service rather than competitive.
Analyze and Optimize
Now that you’ve set yourself up for success, it’s time to analyze the efficacy of your business development strategy.
There are several metrics, data points, and methods for measuring (and refining) your strategy. Tracking key performance indicators–also known as KPIs–is an important aspect of measuring your progress towards your goals.
A few important KPI’s you will want to keep track of are:
Customer acquisition cost
The cost to acquire a new customer. Lower is better.
Customer lifetime value
Revenue generated per customer. Higher is better.
Percentage of leads that become customers. Higher is better.
Customer retention rate
Percentage of customers retained over time. Higher is better.
Sales pipeline revenue
Total expected revenue from prospects. Increasing is good.
When it comes to achieving your goals, you’re going to have to go through some trial and error. That’s just the nature of marketing.
Methods like A/B testing allow you to identify what attributes of your website or email campaign aren’t working. A/B testing allows you to measure the success of different versions of campaigns, landing pages, emails, etc. to improve these KPIs.
Additionally, cohort analysis–or a technique that allows you to measure the behavior of different user groups over time–provides insights into customer lifecycles.
If you don’t have robust software to do this, it can be more difficult to gather precise data. That being said, utilizing a CRM to track the lifetime of a customer or simply identify where you’re getting certain leads can help you understand your customers’ wants.
Overall, continuously analyzing data, running experiments, and optimizing KPIs is key to improving acquisition, conversion, revenue, retention and other vital metrics.
Developing a successful business takes dedication, planning, and a commitment to adaptability. By analyzing your target market, developing your business proposition, and setting achievable goals, you’ll be on the right track for growth.
Beyond that, consistency will be your biggest determinant of growth. Implementing these five steps can take time. However, by spending time setting up a strong foundation, you’ll set yourself up for the long term.
Guided by delivering value, creating meaningful relationships, and–of course–the data, you’ll be perfectly positioned for lasting success and growing your business.
Phew! You made it. You now have all the skills and assets you need to take your business to the next level.
Just kidding–but wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case? At N-Compass, we help everyone from experienced business owners to novices build sustainable, wealth generating businesses, Every. Single. Day.
If you’re looking to start your own business, but just don’t know where to begin or how, give us a call today!