At some stage, all business will need to go through a period of growth to survive. This growth may need to occur when launching a company to build traction. It may happen later in the business life cycle when trying to stay one step ahead of the competition.
It can be challenging figuring out exactly how marketing can play a role in this growth. To help, we have put together the following article to explain what business growth is and how marketing can support an expanding enterprise.
What is business growth?
Business growth is the expansion of an organisation. No single metric can define growth. Instead, growth could occur in several ways, including:
- Customer numbers
- Employee numbers
Your overall business objectives will determine which metrics are essential to your growth strategy. It is vital that you choose the right metrics so that you accurately measure whether you are on target to achieve your goals.
Types of business growth
Generally, you can split business growth into organic growth and rapid growth.
Organic growth is slow, stable expansion, achieved by continuing to do what your business does best. Examples of organic growth are:
- Selling your products to new customers
- Selling your products to customers in new geographical regions
- Utilising new channels to sell and distribute your products – for example, perhaps you have a brick and mortar store, and you launch an eCommerce website to sell your products online
Rapid growth is the expansion of a business that occurs over a short time. This type of change is often riskier than organic growth. It requires scaling your operations at a much faster rate than is manageable. An example of rapid growth would be the acquisition of another business.
In truth, there is a grey area between organic growth and rapid growth. You could be growing organically, but your enterprise is expanding so fast that you could class your development as rapid.
Four common growth strategies – the Ansoff Matrix
You can visualise the four most common growth strategies using the Ansoff Matrix. Igor Ansoff developed the Ansoff Matrix to be a strategic, business planning tool to help business management decide which growth strategy to pursue.
The four strategies of the Ansoff Matrix are:
- Market penetration – Selling more of your existing products to existing markets
- Market development – Selling your existing products to new markets, e.g. selling your current products to customers in countries you previously did not supply
- Product development – Selling new products to your existing markets
- Diversification – Selling new products to entirely new markets
How marketing can support business growth
Marketing can help you achieve your business growth objectives in several ways. We can look at how marketing can help you achieve growth goals based on the metrics we highlighted previously.
- Market research to identify the right target audience resulting in an increased conversion rate
- Promotion of products and services to a broader audience
- Promotion of special offers
- Marketing automation allows to more efficiently market to existing customers
- Market research can identify competitor pricing leading to a more informed pricing strategy
- An increase in sales from marketing activity will increase revenue, assuming prices do not drop
Increase in profit
- Marketing automation can result in more efficient processes, lower costs and increased profits
- Research can identify more cost-effective channels and tactics to market products and services, leading to lower costs and increased profits
- Some channels allow you to target new markets easily – for example, you can use paid search advertising and paid social advertising to reach new audiences based on various criteria, including age, gender, location, interests, job role, education and more
- Marketing can allow you to better promote your products and services to your existing target market
- Marketing allows you to better promote vacancies via channels such as social media and search engines
- You can use marketing platforms, such as your website to promote vacancies and even accept applications
- Keyword research allows you to identify the search terms your potential employees are using
It would be best to remember that the most important step is the research phase when creating a marketing strategy. Research your target audience, your competitors, and the internal and external factors that affect your organisation.
Marketing channels for business growth
Regardless of the type of business growth you wish to achieve and the growth strategy you will use, marketing can help you reach your organisation’s objectives.
Let’s take a look at some of the channels you can incorporate into your marketing strategy for business growth.
You likely will not see results from SEO in the short term. Therefore organic search traffic is generally an excellent channel for organic growth.
Organic search is particularly suited to market penetration. You can leverage your reputation with existing customers and partners for link acquisition and promotion of your content. However, SEO is something most businesses should be doing sooner regardless of their growth strategy.
Note that SEO is cost-effective in the long term, but can be costly when starting. If you begin optimising for search engines while in a rapid growth phase, ensure you do not have cash flow issues that can arise from other aspects of sudden expansion.
Content marketing is generally a long-term marketing tactic, although this is not always the case. For example, you might manage to guest post on a high traffic website that your target audience visit. In this situation, you could start to drive high converting traffic almost immediately. So, depending on your approach, content marketing is appropriate for both organic and rapid growth.
Content marketing works quicker for growth strategies where you target your existing market. You can promote this content via other channels more easily to existing customers, e.g. through email marketing and social media posts about your new content.
Content marketing for market development and diversification strategies requires more research to identify where best to promote your content. However, it can still be a successful approach to drive new business.
Organic social media
Organic social is a long-term approach. You need to build up your following to have consistent engagement and increased reach. Because of this, organic social suits organic, not rapid growth.
Organic social media is particularly suited to market penetration and product development. You can use your relationships with your existing audience to your advantage. Reaching out to new markets for market development and diversification strategies will be more challenging.
Paid search advertising
Paid search or search engine marketing (SEM) can be great for short-term strategies but can become costly relative to other channels in the long term. Therefore, paid search is well suited to rapid growth as it allows you to increase your reach almost immediately.
Paid search can work for all growth strategies, but is particularly useful for market development and diversification. It allows you to reach new markets straight away.
Social media advertising
Paid social media is similar to paid search, as you can reach new markets and customers the same day you launch your marketing campaign.
Paid social is excellent if you are looking for rapid growth if you use either a market development or diversification growth strategy.
Paid social can be considerably cheaper than paid search, depending on the social platform your target audience uses. If you are on a tight budget and need rapid growth, this might be one of the best channels for you.
Email marketing can be beneficial if you already have marketing lists. Because of this, email is generally better suited to market penetration and product development growth strategies. You can always purchase marketing lists to target new markets, but you need to be very careful. Ensure the lists you are purchasing are compliant with GDPR and any other relevant privacy legislation.
In terms of objectives, email works best for organic growth. However, with the right tactics, you can use email for rapid growth too. For example, you could provide free resources in return for your target audience’s email addresses. Combined with other marketing channels, you could build up an email marketing list relatively quickly.
Events can be a great way to reach new customers, although it is not as scalable as other channels. You can use online and offline events to reach existing and new markets, making events suitable for all growth strategies. For example, you can host events targeted to your existing customers and attend industry events in new markets.
Events can work for both organic and rapid growth. In my opinion, they usually are better suited to organic growth. It can take time to find the right event format for your audience and convert them into paying customers.
Public relations (PR) can work well for both rapid and organic growth.
In terms of organic growth, PR is great to stay top of mind, and for your existing market to see you as thought leaders.
For rapid growth, PR done well can put you in front of entirely new target markets. For example, suppose a publication that your ideal customer often reads features you. In that case, this can significantly increase your brand awareness and enquiries.
PR is suited to all growth strategies. For market penetration and product development, you can leverage your reputation within your existing market and your knowledge to pitch yourself to relevant publications. For market development, you can use your current offering’s reputation and expertise to approach relevant publications.
Diversification can be trickier as you are developing new products and targeting new markets, so you are essentially a market entrant. However, suppose you have built up your brand awareness. In that case, publications may be willing to cover the news that your business is diversifying. An example, as of the time of writing, is Apple developing self-driving cars. Quite the departure from iPhones and tablets.
You should now have a much better understanding of how marketing can support your business in achieving its growth objectives.
If you would like to find out how we can help your business grow, email our us firstname.lastname@example.org.