Business Growth Requires Six Fundamental Steps

1 – DO WHAT WORKS

The first step to continued business development is knowing what drove your leads and sales in 2009 and 2008. It makes sense to try new things like social media, but the first step in growth is to identify what already works, and make sure you squeeze every last benefit you can from the tried and true.

For example, one contractor I work with did direct mail to try and grow his new maintenance division. But after analyzing past results, he realized that his maintenance growth had come through the web/better business bureau and leads from existing clients. So the contractor has opted to do more of what’s already worked; tweak direct mail but keep it focused on their core brand (installs), and do more upselling and web marketing aimed at maintenance.

2 – OUTLINE YOUR VISION

Outline (or re-commit to) your three-year company vision, which should answer these questions:

• What kind of work do we do?
• What is the scope and size of the work?
• How many accounts do we have?
• Is there anything new that we’re doing?
• Is there anything we plan to stop doing?

Outlining your vision will ensure that the business development initiatives you undertake will help you reach both your 2010 goals as well as your long-term vision. Moreover, doing this will get employee input and buy-in, and create energy, excitement and motivation.

3 – FIND OUT WHAT MAKES ’EM SPECIAL

Identify who your target market is. The most successful companies typically pick a single target and single focus. If you are a multi-division company, you need to figure out the target client profile for each division because they may differ from one another.

Identify what makes your clients special. What do they want, like, love, hate and need? The quickest way to figure this out is to hold a customer focus group with 10 of your target clients. They will tell you in their own words what their hot-button issues are, and what language and benefits will attract them.

4 – LIMIT YOUR INITIATIVES

Repetition is key to successful marketing. Your best marketing plan should have only a few elements that get repeated over and over.

Some of the most successful tactics include relationship marketing, direct response, targeted advertising, public relations and unconventional marketing.

5 – BUDGET IN THREE CATEGORIES

To create your final plan, confirm how much money you can spend, and how much of a return you want. Your budget can be broken into three areas.

• Branding Elements such as signage, stationary, etc.
• Passive Marketing such as brochures, photography and websites.
• Active Marketing is what brings in new leads that wouldn’t come in otherwise. Here you can spend as little or as much as you want, as long as you can calculate an ROI to show that it makes sense.

Some companies spend zero here, while others spend 5-7% of total sales (usually during ramp-up mode for a new division.) Think of each active marketing investment as a separate project, where you should be able to measure specific sales and specific ROI.

6 – MEASURE THE RIGHT THINGS

Measuring results is the only way to feel confident that your marketing plan is working. Then you’ll have data to make tweaks and future decisions.

Measure the sources of each lead, along with the closing ratio of each salesperson.

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