If I were to ask you how to grow your business, how many ways would you say there are?
I ask this of a lot of small business owners I speak with. The answers vary, usually falling somewhere between a few dozen and several hundred. I can see their eyes start to gloss over as they run all the options through their minds.
It’s no wonder that so many small business owners feel overwhelmed with how to grow a business. So many options. So many choices. It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands in despair.
But what if I told you the answer to that question – how many ways are there to grow your business – is not dozens or hundreds. In fact, it’s three.
How to Grow Your Business: The Only 3 Ways
- Get more people to buy from you
- Get people to buy more often
- Get people to spend more on each purchase
That’s it. Those are the three levers you have to grow your business. Doesn’t that seem a little more manageable than hundreds?
Where to start will depend on your current situation. It’s almost always easier, and less expensive, to get your existing customers to spend more than it is to bring in new ones. That said, all businesses will lose a percentage of their customers each year and they need to be replaced.
Ultimately, you want to make progress on all three levers and get them working together to create real momentum. But even starting with one can help deliver significant growth.
Let’s have a look at how to grow your business one way at a time in a little more detail.
1) Get More People To Buy From You
This won’t be news to anyone running a business. Getting more customers will grow your business. You’re going to need to spend some time on this just to keep your business at current levels because you will have churn.
Getting more customers starts with identifying your ideal customers. While it may seem like growth to take on any new customer, if the customers you are bringing on aren’t a good fit it can actually hurt you. I break down the process to identify your ideal customer in more detail here, but below is a brief summary:
To find your ideal clients follow these steps:
- Identify your most profitable clients.
- From that group, identify those that refer you business.
- Find their common demographic characteristics.
- Take some time to understand the behaviour that makes them ideal.
- Draw a fully developed biographical sketch to use as a marketing guide.
Now, create a message that differentiates you from the competition in their minds. Make it about how you solve your ideal customer’s problem like no one else can.
Once that’s done, map out all the ways you might encounter these ideal clients based on what you now know about them. This is your customer journey.
Now you’ll have a list of where you need to be to engage with these potential customers and what to say to attract more of them.
2) Get People To Buy More Often
Whether your business is looking to get people to come back to a store or order through your website, getting customers to buy more often is a powerful way to grow your business. Presumably, having bought from you once, they have already convinced themselves that you/your product is of value to them. Now help them see it can be of value again.
First, focus on delivering a great experience. Make sure that experience exceeds their expectation. Then nurture them. Use email, social media, events, bounce-back offers, and retargeting ads to remind customers of what a great decision they made the last time they purchased. Believe it or not, consumers don’t spend their days thinking of you. They need to be reminded, rewarded, and invited to repurchase.
If your product/service allows you to set up an automated repurchase cycle, like a subscription, that is a powerful way to increase the frequency of purchasing.
Return to your customer journey map and look at the ways you may encounter an existing customer at the repurchase phase and what you can say to influence that decision.
3) Get People To Spend More On Each Purchase
When I talk to small businesses about this lever to grow their business, they usually jump immediately to raising prices as the solution. It’s true, this is the easiest way to get people to spend more, but it also carries risk.
If you raise prices too much, you could reduce the number of visits or lose a customer entirely. That may be okay as long as the increased spend compensates for it (this also works in the inverse; if you lower your prices you may attract enough new customers to compensate for the lost revenue). When looking at pricing, it’s important to take a big picture look at your value proposition and your ideal client to be sure you understand what the market will bear.
There are other ways to boost this spend. You can upsell customers to a more expensive item during the sales process. Or cross-sell them on additional products and services related to their initial purchase.
If your transaction takes place online, make sure your checkout process has upsells and cross-sells built-in, such as “related products”. If your transactions take place in person, be sure staff are trained on these processes.
It’s also important to know your average revenue per purchase for each purchase type if you have multiple. Then track the impact your efforts have on this number.
And those are the three ways you can grow your business. Three, not 1,000. Just three. That’s a little more manageable.
As I said at the beginning, a successful, growing business will be working all of these levers in harmony, each contributing to the success of the other two. To start, you may want to choose the one you think will have the biggest impact on your business and test some things.
The important thing to remember is to start with strategy. Get to know your ideal clients, your core message of difference, and how you can reach your customers and prospects during their journey.
Those three things will help you narrow your focus even more and target your marketing efforts for consistent results. You can explore them in more detail in The 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success, a free download.