Growth is more than just a positive uptick in numbers. Truth growth comes down to a pretty straight forward formula, one I’ve written more about here. This formula factors in the key components of actually giving your business lift. If there is a correct definition of true growth – of course there are improvements that seem like growth but really aren’t…and here they are:
1. Not gathering data on users/clients as much as humanly (and legally possible).
So you’ve made a business, built the thing, and you’re selling it….great! Your revenue is growing, expenses per user/client are going down…you’re growing for all intents and purposes. Or are you? If you aren’t gathering data on your users/clients as you go to better understand of 1) who they are (occupation, business type, etc.) 2) Where they found out about you. and 3) What made them choose your product. You are leaving a lot of value on the table.
Although it cannot be disputed that you are growing your revenue, you aren’t strategically growing. Today’s growth should seed tomorrow’s growth – never forget that. Let the business activities you take on today become the sodding for the business activities you undertake tomorrow. Automate where you can. Find new ways to leverage this data to full effect. I’ll be sharing more with you on this, later, but for now….let’s start thinking in that direction.
2. Focusing on building subscriber numbers, not community numbers.
Most business owners and individuals are guilty of getting caught up in the numbers game of social media – rather than the strategic mindset of developing a like minded community. It’s much easier to target the high adoption rate followers who will follow you once and forget it, as they don’t engage with social media too often. It’s equally easy to just send out a blast of Facebook ads and take whatever and whomever bites. These are okay low effort strategies to build numbers, but you will likely see churn and a disjointed community.
You should be solving for brand evangelists and valuable community adds – people who share and write the kind of content you want to share with your community you are building. If I put out great content on the Growth Mindset (which I do, so don’t be a square – join my mailing list below) I want people who are interested in exploring growth strategies and growth hacking to follow me – so that we can share ideas and I can work with them on their blind spots and they with me on mine. Create a community, not a following.
3. Putting a higher priority on new sales than returning customers/clients.
New sales are great – new sales definitely signal growth. However, you shouldn’t be putting a higher priority on “new sales” than you are putting on gaining return clients and return sales. The key here is that returning clients or customers also become strong brand evangelists for you. A client returning to you is signaling that you are the best in the market based on their research – and they are more apt to bring more clients through your door. Create two separate strategies for these audiences – never subscribe to the clients are clients are clients narrative.
4. Hiring a PR firm that is non-strategic, and only about hitting placements.
At this point you must be noticing a pattern – I’m talking about the commonly held belief that growth is about “hitting the numbers”. So many people have this concept indoctrinated in their minds from their days in corporate sales, or from their MBA courses on Financial Accounting. Growth is absolutely about hitting the numbers , but that isn’t all its about. A non-strategic PR firm (and I’ve worked with a few in my time) is going to create a list of media targets with your input and then try to hit all of those media targets. Sure, getting 15 placements for the month is impressive and sure does feel like growth. HOWEVER, if you got your cat toy mentioned in a Dog Fancy article (you know, the publication that is for dog owners and enthusiasts) you shouldn’t start popping the champs just yet, tiger.
Work with a PR firm that has a growth mindset. A PR firm that is interested in building awareness on the channels where your future clients, future evangelists, future investors, or future mouthpieces frequent. Another good tip when it comes to PR folks, don’t think of them as a sales tool. Driving sales is not the point of PR – too high up in the funnel. More on that later.
5. Building your product or service in a vacuum with no feedback from users/customers.
As a career Product Strategist, one of the worst things you can do is build your product or service in a vacuum. It’s easy to think because you’ve studied the problem extensively – that you know all of the answers and exactly how to get to the solution. One of the core tenets of my strategies is building in a Lean Design environment. Start small with the least amount of capital invested and vet out your solution – then continue adding to the functionality, service, etc. with each new layer of needs met analysis.
If you build your product or service without feedback, you aren’t growing your business and you aren’t growing a successful product. Instead you are shopping a fully completed solution around to whomever has the problem you’ve solved. Sell the competency for solving the problem(s), don’t sell the solution. Build and change as your user’s problem set builds and changes. Mark my words, that’s the only way to grow and scale with agility and market matching.
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