Several years ago, I was managing a marketing consulting business that was gathering momentum, despite its competition’s failure to do so. Our management seemed optimistic and excited about the future of the company. In contrast, similar businesses were complaining about ‘down markets’ and their clients’, “Lack of commitment to marketing.” So what were we doing that gave us the edge? Several things, but most importantly our business strategy involved ‘giving away value’. Whenever we signed a new client, we would brainstorm about how we could add to the client’s positive experience with our company. For example, we closed a deal to create a campaign for a large insurance corporation. We knew that they wanted to make big noise about their campaign because it had a social responsibility component to it. With this in mind, we told the client that they could have complete access to our PR agency to assist them with the launch. We paid our PR agency a small fee for their time, providing our client with access to their services. Because of it, our client ended up using them several times again later. The client was very impressed with our willingness to go the extra mile and invest our money into their success. They referred us to other business units in the corporation, which led to more work and some great portfolio case studies. Try creating a result that will keep the momentum going when you give away value. Even if you have a small degree of control over the result, you can probably create a positive outcome.
There are several ways for small businesses to give away value, at little or no cost. In my business, I generate a large amount of written material for my clients. Most of it can be easily rewritten into an article or a ‘how-to’ guide. These elements can be emailed or included in newsletters without much additional effort. The key is that when you make contact with your audience, demonstrate to them that you are frequently giving away value. It might take five or ten times before they buy from you, but they will notice you.
Educate Your Target Audience
All successful executives know that the only thing more expensive than a good education is ignorance. If you are in a position to educate your clients, partners, vendors, or even your competition, then do it. Educating your competition can be a very favorable strategy if you are in an industry that is new and is trying to gain credibility and develop a market. By growing the industry, you grow the market, and the spin-off is that if you lead the way, you will become known as an innovator.
Running workshops, training courses, publishing guides, and hosting web conferences are simple and inexpensive ways of extending your knowledge to your constituent markets. In the early days of the Internet boom, there were dozens of new services, but very few people knew how to use them to make their businesses run more efficiently. The companies that succeeded in getting their clients on-board, were very often the companies hosting free workshops and training for potential clients.
Identify Channels Before You Start Creating New Products
If you are growing a business, there is a good chance you are adding new products, services, or value to your existing offerings. You may also be repackaging your existing products for newer markets. Many businesses spend more time focusing on the product, forgetting about the distribution channels. Successful growth strategies are very often associated with distribution strategy. Think of Microsoft and Dell’s strategy to use partnerships or the Internet to ensure easy accessibility to their products. Understand how your products will reach the ultimate consumers who pay the bills. Try to understand the sales channel and use critical thinking; although your understanding might be imperfect initially, you can quickly refine the distribution model and make it work.