Jim, an electrician who worked with local commercial clients, came to me recently because the growth of his business had flat–lined.
Fierce competition takes a bite out of business
Over his first five years he’d steadily grown his presence in the local market—and because of his marketing success had seen double digit revenue growth every year. But now he feared the local area might be tapped out. Competition was fierce, and Jim found himself spending a lot of time hustling just to retain his current clients.
His growth had slowed to only two or three percent per year, and he worried his business was on the lip of a sharp fall.
The tried-and-true no longer works
When Jim came to see me he was getting desperate. He’d tried distributing flyers to local businesses and making a lot of cold calls, activities that had worked for him in the past—but this time neither action brought new customers through the door.
I’d seen entrepreneurs in Jim’s position before. The landscape had changed around him and suddenly the old ways were no longer very effective. For many business owners it’s hard to see an effective way forward.
My work with other business owners had shown me that the key to growth hacking for struggling businesses was to break free of the strait jacket of ‘tried-and-true’ traditional approaches and find a ‘Concorde Moment’ – a game-changing, brand new way of generating revenue.
3 ways to jumpstart the growth curve
As I told Jim, there are three key areas he should examine to find his own ‘Concorde Moment.’
When your market gets crowded with competitors offering similar services one of the best ways to find a new advantage is to open a gap by redefining yourself. Examine your client’s needs and look for areas where they feel pain but no good solutions exist—those are opportunities to create new products and services.
2. Jumpstart marketing
Once you have identified new client needs and created an offering to match, it’s time to promote them by pushing beyond the tired old marketing campaigns you’ve been using for years—the same ones you’re your competitors use. Take advantage of social media and the power of your clients’ stories to demonstrate your new expertise.
3. Multiple sales per client
Finding new clients is a key way to jumpstart growth, but an equally effective strategy that many ignore is to do a better job harvesting the revenue potential of your current clients. In many advisory or consulting industries the average number of products sold to each client hovers around 1.1 or 1.2. Which means a lot of clients are underserved. And a lot of business is being left on the table.
A great way to jumpstart growth is to implement a strategy of conducting annual reviews with each client. Use them to update your understanding of their needs, and to show how you can meet those needs.
The three keys in action
Over the next few months Jim created new offerings that could help his clients reduce overhead. Rather than just providing electrical installs and repairs like all of his competitors, he decided to explore how he could bring greater cost savings to his clients through the replacement of old plant with new, high efficiency appliances.
He jumpstarted his tired old marketing approach by joining business associations and energy conservation groups, overhauling his website to include client testimonials and stories, and becoming active on social media to spread the word about the benefits of energy efficient solutions. He also created short content pieces that he sent to local business, giving them examples of ways to cut overhead by going green—clearly separating himself from his old competition.
Finally, Jim set himself a target of conducting four annual reviews per month. And, he was surprised how much of a difference those discussions made in his business. Not only did he see a dramatic uptick in sales, but he uncovered client needs he hadn’t imagined. Those revelations led him to his own, ‘Concorde Moment’— the creation of unique maintenance and operations services he could offer to his entire market.
By year end Jim’s revenue was up 8% and continuing to grow. By putting the three keys into action he had jumpstarted his once stagnant business and the future looked bright once again.
About the author: Andy Haynes is a writer for FreshBooks. He is the co-author of two best-selling business books, a successful entrepreneur and business consultant.