Whether it's customers, revenue, locations, leads, mentions or profits, you need to play the game of growth if you want to be successful in business.
Growth is essential to the survival of a business. About 66% of companies survive their first two years of operation, 50% reach the five-year mark and only 33% will celebrate their tenth anniversary. These figures are remarkably consistent across most industries - but they also highlight the importance of planning growth from day one.
In 2018, 53% of US SMEs expected to grow and 22% expected to hire additional staff. This represents an impressive increase from the 2017 figures, which were 46% and 9% respectively. A concrete growth strategy is more than a marketing strategy, it is a crucial part of your professional machine. Without this, you are at the mercy of an unstable clientele and market fluctuations.
So, how do you plan to grow?
Growth Strategy (Enterprise)
The growth strategy allows companies to grow their business. Growth can be achieved by adding new sites, investing in customer acquisition, developing a range of products, etc. A company's industry and target market influence the growth strategies it will choose.
Develop strategies, review available options , and integrate them into your business plan. Depending on the type of business you build, your growth strategy may include, but are not limited to:
- Adding new locations
- Invest in customer acquisition
- The opportunity to create franchises
- Expansion of your product line
- The sale of articles online on multiple platforms.
Your industry and target market will influence your decisions, but it is almost universally true that the acquisition of new customers will play a significant role.
Not sure what this looks like for your business?
Start by learning from the most lucrative companies. Identify their strategies, test them in your niche, and see what works best. Here are four companies and their key growth tips to help you get started.
Examples of growth strategies
Dropbox - Growth Strategy: Viral Loops
As a pioneer in cloud storage software, Dropbox was launched in 2008 and enabled the world to easily store files in the cloud, rather than on a physical device.
We take this convenience for granted today, but it has not always been the case. In fact, Dropbox had to face a tough battle to convince users to abandon their favorite USB drives and external hard drives in favor of the “cloud”, a new and unknown idea.
Dropbox knew it had a high-end product that everyone, whether students or executives, would find it essential. They just had to spread the word.
But they did it. The service reached the milestone of millions of users in April 2009, just two million five months later and three million two months later. Currently, Dropbox has more than 500 million users worldwide.
How did they do it? Viral curls .
The basic principle of a viral loop is simple:
- Someone is trying your product
- They offer incentives to share with others
- They accept and share with their network
- New users sign up, see the incentive potential of themselves and share with theirnetworks
At its best, a viral loop is a perpetual acquisition machine that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Dropbox runs on a “freemium to premium” model, offering all users 2 GB of storage for free. But their motivation? An additional 500 MB for each registered reference, allowing users to get up to 16 GB free of charge.
The result? Service increased by 3,900% over a period of 15 months.
Viral curls are not guaranteed to become viral, of course, and they are less effective than in the Dropbox era since they have become more common, but the potential is still there. Part of the call lies in the fact that the viral loop overturns the traditional funnel:
Instead of needing as many potential customers as possible at the top, a viral loop funnel needs only one user satisfied to share with others. As long as each reference generates at least 1.1 new users , the system continues to grow.
Harry - Growth Strategy: milestones
You may remember when the “Dollar Shave Club” burst in 2012 with the promise of high-quality, yet affordable blades delivered directly to your door. The following year, Harry followed suit, launching, not with a viral video, but thanks to the ingenious use of staked references.
How does it work? Visitors to a pre-launch page have signed up to receive email updates as well as a link to share via email, Facebook and Twitter. The more they referred, the more rewards they could earn.
In this case, the milestones were X number of referrals. It was easy to share, easy to take the steps and offer a tangible product as a reward.
The result? Harry collected over 100,000 e-mails before it was officially opened.
Slack - Growth strategy: word of mouth
In less than six years, Slack has become the platform of choice for online collaboration and communication, both for business users and individuals.
Slack, which had only 8,000 users at launch in 2013, reached one million active daily users at the end of 2015. Today, the service has more than 10 million active users daily. How did they do it?
In its early days, Slack became available to large, well-established companies such as Rdio and Flickr, generating numerous spin-offs in the press. The company focused primarily on user satisfaction, responding to thousands of support requests and tweets each month, leading directly to positive word of mouth among its first users.
Even Slack's management team was blown away by the success of its word-of-mouth approach. In 2014, co-founder Steward Butterfield said: “The growth has been completely crazy and almost entirely by word of mouth. In fact, we've just hired our first marketing officer, but it only starts next week.”Word of
mouth is organic - and, as in the case of Slack, it is effective: 83% of Americans say that the recommendation of a friend or family member gives them a greater incentive to buy or try a product, and 50% would prefer to ear if they could only choose one source of information.
The secret of this effectiveness lies in a deeply rooted psychological bias in all people: we subconsciously think that the majority knows better . This is why social proof remains the #1 instrument of advertising writing and all marketing content . That's why most brands focus on their online reputation.
They know that in today's customer-centric world, when communication methods change and information is accessible to everyone, a single negative blog post or tweet can push all marketing efforts down. As the father of digital word-of-mouth growth, Pete Blackshaw said, “Satisfied customers say three friends, angry customers say three thousand.” That's why Slack focused on the positive user experience to increase this number of satisfied customers and make this wave of great feedback.
Focus on delivering a spectacular user experience, and users will spread the word for you.
WhatsApp - Growth Strategy: The “When they Zig, We Zag” approach
When you enter a cluttered market, you need to stand out. Your value proposition must clearly demonstrate your competitive advantage over others. Why should users use your product or service rather than someone else?
WhatsApp was not the first cross-platform messaging app when it was launched in 2009, but it has become one of the most accomplished, with over 1.2 billion active users per month.
Its founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, wanted to create a product that avoids problems found in other applications at the time. They intentionally opted for the absence of advertising, marketing and a free first year to attract users who were fed up with other providers.
And it worked; they distinguished themselves by being dramatically different from all the other options at that time.
In short, they “ziguated” when everyone “zagued”. They created an extremely simple product for sending and receiving instant messages. People started to use it and share it accordingly, so much so that WhatsApp's growth outpaced Facebook, Skype and Gmail in its first four years.
Take advantage of this effect by wondering what's wrong with the current options in your niche. Can you improve it or eliminate it completely? Highlight this and make users talk.
The “zig” competition, you “zag”.
Successful companies plan their growth. They work for that. They win it. So, what's your plan?