Shake Things Up to Achieve True Growth
What do a jeweler, a niche consultant and a CPA firm have in common? They all have told me recently that they need to shake things up. That exact phrase was used by owners of quite different businesses. What did they mean and how can their lessons help your company too?
These three owners were feeling stuck. They all have substantial revenue and profit and they wanted more of both. They were open to fresh ideas of how to get them.
I have these conversation with owners, founders, principals and executives all the time. If they’re not struggling, they wonder, how could I help them? I told them I was glad they asked!
Every company needs to focus on true growth, which I define as growth that’s sustainable over long periods. As I write in Tinker, true growth is a mindset as well as a behavior set. In the book are 2 pages of options that create true growth. These owners got started with three.
Aligning Marketing with Customer Segments
A company can practically guarantee true growth when it thinks creatively about its own clients and customers.
The CPA had segmented her clients by the client’s size and purpose. The first step in shaking things up was to look at the clients in terms of their desired outcomes. This shifted the CPA into broader and more creative ways of thinking about her clients.
We reimagined her marketing in terms of client outcomes, not client demographics. Where before her marketing was about inputs, now it is about outcomes. To her surprise and delight, quite a few clients identified themselves as seeking bigger outcomes, and were happy to know she could support them.
Developing Deep Customer Relationships
The niche consulting firm has, over nearly 3 decades, become known for the firm’s narrow and deep expertise. The founder knew that his clients needed him and he tended not to worry too much about relationships. They provide top-notch expertise, what else did they need to do?
When we studied revenue for the past 2 years by product/service type we discovered that many clients only used the firm for one of their services. I had a hunch that these clients didn’t know about the full array of offerings. We agreed to test this hunch with a brief experiment: call 15 of the clients who only use them for one service and ask them what else they thought the company offered. The answers shocked the founder. Close to 85% never thought about this company when it had other, related needs.
This lead to an intense focus on developing deep customer relationships. Within 6 months, these same clients increased their use of the company’s other services by 19%. There is plenty more to come, as developing deep customer relationships is true growth—a sustainable, ongoing effort that gets better and better over time.
All Employees Contribute to Revenue
The owner of the beautiful local, independent jewelry store told me that she is growing their business “the right way.” When I asked what she meant, she compared her marketing to the heavy handed tactics of chain jewelry stores, and proudly said they didn’t do those things.
First I suggested that she should not position her store against the chains, but instead should position in terms of the independent jewelry store market. These stores appeal to different customers. For example, her store sends a message of serene luxury, very much unlike the brightly lit chain stores. She needs to attract people with her unique environment.
I noticed that when a customer came in for watch repair, the watch expert took the order, fixed the watch, and returned it to the pleased customer. This expert did not explore, even briefly and pleasantly, if the customer might like to see other watches. This employee did not capture the buyer’s name and contact information. Even the owner herself did not suggest that a customer explore some of the other beautiful pieces on display.
We quickly reviewed how all employees could offer to show customers other pieces in keeping with the serene luxury she created. Within in 3 months they had accumulated a list of customers who willingly gave their names and email addresses to receive a monthly newsletter.
These new practices are leading to true growth: solid and sustainable over the long term.
What are you doing to help your company shake things up? If you’d like to try some experiments on your own, you can find the True Growth list on pages 8-9 of Tinker.
If you’d like the benefit of my expertise on true growth, let’s have a Listening Call to talk. Reply by email or call 703-790-1424.