Pick and choose from these expert ideas to expand your company
“Growth and comfort never co-exist." - Ginni Rometty, former chairman and CEO of IBM.
Like a duck paddling furiously beneath the water, you must work hard to grow a business while you stay afloat. But post-COVID 19 don’t expect it to be easy.
Reliable growth is getting harder
As author of GROWTH IQ Tiffani Bova said even before the pandemic hit:
“Repeatable and reliable growth for established companies and new ventures alike is hard and seems to be getting harder.”
However, there is hope. The global customer growth and innovation evangelist for Salesforce and bestselling author says growth is far less complicated than most people make it out to be.
Free Download: 10 Leadership Qualities That Will Help Solve Challenges in 2023
10 growth paths
In fact, she’s identified 10 clear growth paths available to companies. So, we thought we’d revisit Tiffani’s interview with us and dive back into her book GROWTH IQ to see what growth opportunities are open to you post-pandemic.
In brief, here are her 10 growth paths:
1. Customer experience – inspire additional purchases and advocacy
2. Customer base penetration – sell more existing products to existing customers
3. Market acceleration – expand into new markets
4. Product expansion – sell new products to existing markets
5. Customer and product diversification – sell new products to new customers
6. Optimise sales – streamline sales efforts to increase productivity
7. Churn (minimise defection) – retain more customers
8. Partnerships – leverage third-party alliances and channels
9. Co-opetition – cooperate with market or industry competitor
10. Unconventional strategies – disrupt current thinking
Scroll down for some information on each of these growth paths. But before you do….
4 points to remember
Tiffani says context, combination, and sequence matters when choosing growth paths. For this reason, you can’t easily replicate another company’s success. You need to forge your own path.
· Don’t try to copy what you think your competitors are doing. Imitation is not the path to success, especially in the overcrowded industries most companies confront today.
· Don’t get distracted by what landed you in your current situation – good or bad.
· Don’t make the common mistake of believing that what you’ve always done will continue to deliver.
· Keep your mind – and your options – open.
Okay, with these points in mind, let’s continue with a look at each of the 10 growth paths in more detail.
Growth Path One – Customer Experience
How can we better service our customers so they become our advocates?
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated.
Or how other customers were treated. 70% of customers look to reviews when deciding among different brands or products.
Tiffani says Customer Experience (CX) must become the ‘nucleus’ that sits at the intersection of all business units, all functions, all decisions, all employees. Everything.
“CX is not an either-or decision; it must be a philosophy embedded into your company’s DNA.”
Growth Path Two – Customer Base Penetration
How can we more deeply know our customer?
More competition means businesses struggle to get new customers. Customer acquisition costs are increasing too.
It costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Growth from your existing customer base, therefore, is ‘gold.’
Don’t ignore your customers, and ensure you capture key data with customer relationship management software. This helps you narrow the type of customer who is likely to buy from you.
“Know what your most valuable customers look like and why they buy from you.”
Growth Path Three – Market Acceleration
How can we find new customers outside our current market?
Market acceleration is the path of taking a brand’s existing products into new markets. These may a new geographic area, adjacent vertical segments that are not part of the current customer mix, or of different customer size (i.e., from small business to medium size business).
If there is competition in the new market, go after a small niche and win there. Learn the market, pull people into your product, your brand’s orbit, and then begin to expand.
“The quickest path to getting big in a new market is to aim small.”
Growth Path Four – Product Expansion
How could our products or services offer more value for our customers?
Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more when compared with new customers.
Providing value to customers (by solving a personal, business, or societal need) is the most important reason for any new product or development.
For this reason, customer experience becomes the product. For example, building a tractor with an enclosed cab, a radio, adjustable seats and a heater is a ‘new product’ but also a ‘new customer experience.’
“The business world is littered with companies that didn’t want to change – even when the market was changing around them.”
Tiffani Bova is author of GROWTH IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business.
Growth Path Five – Customer and Product Diversification
How might we reach new customers with new products?
If you have a culture of innovation, this growth path could be a good one for you. It’s a risky to take as it’s about developing new products for completely new markets and customers.
A new product is an untested product, one whose market reception you do not know, explains Tiffani. Great products do not sell themselves, she warns.
For this reason, the risks can be extraordinary - but so can the rewards.
“You should ensure that you clearly understand whether you have captured all of the options available to you with the existing products and services you offer prior to considering this path.”
(Helpful reading: A summary of Business Model Canvas co-inventor Alex Osterwalder's masterclass on business model innovation).
Growth Path Six – Optimise Sales
How could we sell more effectively?
Tiffani says that sales is the ‘last mile’ – the moment of truth for any company.
“Businesses do two things – make things and sell things.”
She says leadership doesn’t always take the time to review current sales practices on a regular basis. And sales executives rarely come up for air to re-evaluate how they are selling.
Tiffani says there should never be a time when a company isn’t focusing on increasing sales effectiveness.
“At its core, sales is about relationships and trust.”
Growth Path Seven – Churn
How might we stop our customers leaving us?
A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.
Keeping the customers you have is just as important as gaining new ones. Tiffani says there is no way to acquire and keep every single customer but losing customers can wipe out all the gains you make in sales growth.
If you are able to examine the timing and causes of customer defection (via your technology) you can come up with solutions to stop it. Importantly, consider the long-term value of the customer.
“Successful companies combine a focus on churn with a focus on long-term value (LTV).”
Growth Path Eight – Partnerships
How could we work with others to grow?
Companies can’t always go it alone, says Tiffani. The response to all the changes in the market, in industries, and in consumer behaviour requires businesses to work together much more closely than they have in the past.
Partnerships, collaboration, co-branding, strategic alliance can provide growth. They can be more effective than hiring your own sales team or leasing distribution facilities in a new market, for example.
Effective partnerships are built on trust, fairness, and mutual benefit.
“Partnerships should be proactive and have well thought out arrangements between the companies with clear expectations and measurable results.”
(Helpful reading: 9 Effective Ways to Build Trust in the Workplace).
Growth Path Nine – Co-opetition
How could we collaborate with our competitors to grow the pie?
It’s likely your USB cable works on any device and your earbuds will plug into most devices so you can listen to music or take a phone call.
Tiffani says this is because the computer industry has ‘co-opetition’ – it’s developed standards to make it a more seamless experience to use smartphones and laptops.
Co-opetition is the notion that even competitors can find ways to work together to accomplish ends that they’d be unlikely to achieve alone.
“The goal of co-opetition is to find synergies and common ground between those competitors in the hope of growing the size of that pie.”
Growth Path Ten – Unconventional Strategies
How can we use purpose to drive growth?
This growth path is about passion, purpose, and social change. Many companies grow by seeing a purpose to their existence beyond profit.
In this way the line is blurring between non-profit and for-profit organisations, says Tiffani.
‘Doing well by doing good’ is not only possible – done right, it can be an authentic way to connect with your employees, customers, partners, and shareholders in a meaningful way.
“Taking a step back, pausing, and hitting reset is sometimes the best way to move forward.”
Tiffani says that growth needs to be countercyclical. The best time to create the next big opportunity is when things are going well, not when you are struggling.
Leaders tend to get a bit overconfident in their future and their existing growth strategies when things are booming, she says.
“Sometimes the biggest threat to a company can be its own success, or worse, complacency.”
So decide which path(s) might suit you to grow your company, and get going even if the sun is shining on your business right now.
We hold weekly live virtual events with experts in growing companies. If you'd like to increase your professional and personal development why not consider becoming a Growth Faculty Pass holder? Unlimited access to 40 live virtual masterclasses and Global Headliner virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content at On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. Join a community of knowledge seekers who are inspired by the best. See who's up next.