I’ve yet to encounter a CEO, president or business owner who isn’t constantly considering ways in which they can grow their business. When I ask what types of initiatives they are considering, the responses tend to focus on applying what has worked in the past rather than what might work today.
The most common approaches pursued typically fall into one of three categories:
- Improve marketing to expand market reach (i.e. new brand, better website, new marketing materials)
- Increase the size and skill set of the sales force (i.e. more sales reps, increased skill sets)
- Investigate possible M&A opportunities (i.e. increase market share, expand into new markets)
If this is how you think growing a business should be approached, then there’s something wrong with your thinking because…
- Historical marketing practices are lost amidst the expanding global marketplace
- Customers are more educated than ever before and don’t respond to traditional sales tactics
- M&A carries with it significant investment and risk at a time when the economy remains delicate
Put another way, seeking to grow your business by applying strategies that yielded success 10 – 20 years ago is asinine. The world, the economy and most importantly, your customers, have evolved.
Disagree? Well would you buy a car today with roll up windows just because they were once the most effective way to cool down the car? Or would you visit a teller at the bank to pay your bills rather than setup automatic payments online just because it was once considered the best way to ensure your transaction was secure? Of course not.
If you wouldn’t revert to how you used to do things personally, why would you ever revert to practicing old approaches to growing your business?
You need to think and be more customer centric – more people centric. Mass marketing and blanket approaches to selling are no longer relevant and anyone trying to tell you they are doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
The truth is, you can grow your business on a budget. To meet the needs of today’s customers and clients requires that you shift your attention from marketing and selling to empowering your customers. Today’s customer needs to feel valued.
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When was the last time you asked your best customers where they seek out your products and services? That’s where you should market.
When was the last time your salesforce met with customers not to sell, but to learn how you can improve your product or service? That’s how you should sell.
It’s time to step out of the 1980s and stop treating customers like they’re all the same. Making meaningful connections and empowering customers is the key component of your customer attraction and retention strategy.
For more ideas on how to empower your customers make sure you grab a copy of my book from McGraw Hill entitled “Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition.”
© Shawn Casemore 2015. All rights reserved.