By Ben Paul.
Now that January is fully upon us, it is that time of year again when many businesses and departments within businesses start to look at their plans and strategies for the year ahead. But what does this actually entail? Will you simply review and tweak last year’s plan or follow the same format or structure that you’ve carried out every year? If you do you won’t be expecting radically different results.
I was thinking about this after I’d come out of the movie theatre having thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s latest instalment of the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One. Clearly the investment in Star Wars from Disney was around tapping into our childhood memories and producing as many films as close to the originals as possible to help the dollars come pouring in. Clearly Star Wars is one cash cow that can be almost endlessly milked, as sequels and side stories all have box-office and merchandise spin-off success.
However, how can you find a way to grow your business universe, if you don’t have the financial muscle of Disney ? Below are five simple things you can consider in your growth planning strategies.
1. Read your “about us” or “mission statement” out loud with a twist. The twist being where your company name appears, insert your competitor’s. Then go the next stage and take your company name out and do the same with a handful of your nearest competitor organisations and see if you can spot the difference. If you and your team can’t, then do you think that your target customers can? So perhaps you would do well investing time in a new one. For those of you who are fans of Simon Sinek, this really is about finding your “why”.
2. Understand what winning means for you. If you haven’t read “Playing to Win” by A.G. Laflely and Roger L. Martin, I’d recommend adding it to your reading list. Growing by 10% may be an aspiration but it isn’t a winning strategy. It is more about how can your product or service be recognised as the leader in the market that you choose to operate in. If you are a budget product are you the best in that price bracket for your target market? If not, how can you make changes to your product or service so that you are? It is worth investing your time here as this enables your sales team to go to market with confidence.
3. Know the value of your existing client base. There is a comfort on working with your existing and loyal customers. They know you and you know them. However, look at it realistically if you aspire to galactic growth, how much more can they spend with you? You can look at a matrix and see the gaps in products or services that they don’t currently buy from you. You may find that there’s not much more you can squeeze from your existing base. It may also be hard to convert them across to your other offering, they may not have the need for these. Or your problem may be due to a lack of internal trust which is preventing your cross-selling efforts. Overcoming this takes organisational change as Keith Dugdale talks about in this article here. You certainly should try to maximise and provide real value to your loyal customers but it will help you to be aware of how far your customer base can take you.
4. Look to leave some customers behind. If some customers are taking up too much time or if your offering has simply out grown them, now is the time to look at setting them free. Where possible, assuming they still need a similar product or service to yours, find them an alternative so you can pass them on with good wishes and in a way that maintains your reputation. After all it is likely that you will meet the people from these unwanted clients in another capacity at some point.
5. Explore a wider universe. One of the best ways to grow is to seek out new clients. In many cases this can be a very quick process as you can build relationships with new people from a clean slate. As long as you strive to offer value to them in every interaction, a great relationship can be built very quickly. So invest time in thinking about who your realistic targets are for the year ahead and plan how much market share you can gain from them, if all goes well in 1, 2 and 3 years time. Hopefully, you’ll find the figures here exciting and perhaps even scary in terms of the growth possibilities. This should give you confidence to invest in your client development time, knowing that if you do the right things it will pay off in the short to mid-term.
Of course knowing your strategy is only the 1st part in conquering the galaxy, it will most likely take a co-ordinated team effort to get there. In Rogue One they knew their mission and they were all on-board together, which helped them to capture the Death Star plans and successfully return them to the rebels. If you come out of your planning sessions with a united purpose then you are well on your way to a successful year.
This post first appeared on Ben’s LinkedIn page. If you’d like to comment or join in this conversation, please visit the post here.