You likely did a lot of research when you first began your business. Perhaps you even found a few influencers or advisors; maybe you scanned countless books, magazines and other sources.
The, after making large investments of time, money and sweat equity, you launched. Now, what?
Surviving the startup phase is an accomplishment in its own right, but then you face the challenge of growing your business. There are countless tried-and-true recommendations out there about hiring the right people, knowing your numbers and maintaining focus. And these can create potential for growth.
But they’re not the most actionable tips. Recently I spoke to a number of growing businesses to learn what they’re doing to grow -- and the responses, described below, were as interesting and actionable as they were diverse.
1. Leverage new technology.
It’s easy to wait for the hype to pass, let the dust settle and then see where others have gone with new technology, to see if it’s something viable for marketing and growing your business. But where’s the fun in that?
If you’re among the first wave to experiment with a new platform for promotion and engagement, you could very well have wide-open engagement with your audience -- and little worry about competition. That’s what many companies, like Full Circle Insights have done.
Full Circle Insights provides performance metrics on the Salesforce platform, so that even as a B2B company it's making use of Snapchat. And the project is working tremendously.
“We focus on Snapchat promotions at all of our events,” says Director of Marketing Sweta Patel. “The best part of Snapchat is that it is a direct marketing channel. The enterprise companies we work with are digging it! The number-one way Sales can use Snapchat is by inviting their prospects to lunch. Snapchat was originally a consumer-driven network, and it is recently turning into a B2B network for direct marketing purposes, and bringing a sense of personalization.”
I personally use Snapchat on a daily basis to speak with and help other marketers, often responding to more than 100 comments on any given day. It’s a terrific engagement tool.
2. Develop a community-engagement strategy.
Thought leadership is something a lot of companies strive for, but few achieve. Like any other type of marketing and outreach, thought leadership requires a strategy for consistent engagement. It also doesn't need to live across multiple channels, as we can learn from Brand24.
Brand24 provides social listening solutions that help companies keep track of brand, business and product mentions across the web. To better position itself in front of their audience, the company created a strategy of direct engagement in a specific community: Quora.
“We developed a community marketing team whose KPI [key performance indicator] is to become a leader in topics via various online channels, in order to increase visibility and traffic,” says Chief Revenue Officer Mick Griffin. “We have already successfully achieved this on Quora, and the results are very positive. Our community manager Gloria is now the most-read content provider in 13 channels important to our industry.”
Griffin recommends that others who want to attempt the same community engagement should work on building their profiles on Quora and other similar content-sharing sites. This takes time, but the higher you rank, the more visibility you get. That translates into greater referral traffic without increased costs.
3. Trust content marketing.
I talk a lot about content marketing, and recommend tools like my own ContentMarketer.io platform to engage influencers through content promotion. While content marketing might not seem like an offbeat strategy to some, there’s still a big disconnect with content marketing.
So much so that 57 percent of content marketers continue to ignore it and focus on traditional offline marketing. That means there’s a lot more opportunity there.
Grow and Convert understands the benefits of content marketing. The site aims to help companies attract and grow their audience online and convert their traffic into paying customers. To grow its own business, Grow and Convert took a unique approach using content marketing.
“We're building a business in reverse,” says Benji Hyam, the company's co-founder. “We've been focused on building-out a massive audience within a very defined target market, and then building products that help solve pain points. For the first five months, we only focused on adding value through helpful content, and in turn that resulted in over 25,000 monthly visitors.
"We just released our first product last week, called Postable.io, and now already have an audience to sell it to. Within the first week of launching, we had over 100 people sign up for a trial.”
A focused content-marketing strategy, then, can help you achieve great results: grow brand visibility, generate new leads, nurture existing leads and position yourself as a leader in your industry.
By flipping the thinking on building a business, Grow and Convert faces less risk while providing something more valuable to the end-user. And because they have a relationship with most of their audience members via email, the experts at Grow and Convert know the pains those users have and where they get tripped up.
Through that insight and smart content marketing, Grow and Convert is able to build things that help solve real problems its already-engaged audience is facing.