Are You Ready to Scale? 3 Stages of Prep for a Growth Marketing LaunchMonday April 17th, 2023
If you're considering a big marketing push to take your small business to the next level, it's time to take a critical look at your operations and business foundation. Before taking the leap of faith, run through our list of must-haves to make sure you're ready to benefit from a big marketing investment.
Do you feel confident that your small business is ready to grow? Are you wondering how to scale a business from $10m to $20m in revenue? Before adding fuel to the fire with a marketing investment, you need to ensure your business is equipped to handle the resulting growth. For further guidance on managing your business, you may want to consult with this Business Insolvency Company.
Even if your metrics have been trending upwards for several quarters, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to expand. Instead of throwing money into marketing and hoping for good results, we’ll help you determine if marketing is a smart, profitable investment right now. Before taking the leap of faith, see if you have the qualities of a company ready to scale. We’ve distilled down the qualities of our most successful partnerships into one checklist. We’ll help you decide if you’re ready to invest in marketing-led growth, or if it’s best to continue building the building the foundations of your business. To help you with financial matters, hire a professional by visiting this website: https://brightsg.com/en-gb/accountancy-manager.
Stage 1: The non-negotiables
Before you even consider scaling up, it’s crucial to have these key pieces in place. If you approach a growth marketing plan without them, you can waste your time and money on efforts that aren’t aligned with your goals or communicating appropriately with your audience.
Clear goals and KPIs
Whether you’re relying on an in-house marketing team or hiring an agency, you’ll need clear goals and KPIs (key performance indicators). Your team needs to objectively evaluate the impact of marketing efforts, and goals give a benchmark to refer to. Some of the most common and valuable KPIs include year-over-year growth targets, customer acquisition targets, allowable cost per acquisition (CPA), customer lifetime value (CLV), and return on ad spend (ROAS). Determining these for your marketing team will require a thorough understanding of the financials of your business model, and how this can be impacted – positively! – as you scale.
The more specific you get, the more you empower your marketing team to hit the ground running. If you know exactly how many leads you want in a year and at what cost, your marketing team can work backwards to break down what channels to leverage, how much advertising budget they’ll need, what cost per clicks they should hit, and the conversion rates required to achieve those goals.
Without the high-level planning and benchmarks from your team, even the most experienced marketers will have trouble recommending the best next step confidently. It’s hard to decisively choose a path if your leadership team can’t help point you to where you should be going.
A focused offering
Take a moment to consider the product or service you offer. Does it address a distinct need? Does it offer a unique value to people with that need?
Knowing exactly what problem your product or service solves helps marketers dive deeply into your audience’s pain points, craft the right messaging to reach them, and convert them into happy customers.
Operationally, there are benefits to having clear answers to these questions too. Getting specific and presenting a distinct, differentiated value will keep your product and business focused instead of spreading yourself thin. Specialization lets you differentiate your product, build credibility in your industry, and improve your profits as you hone in on a unique audience need. Otherwise you’ll be throwing all your product benefits at the wall to see what sticks with your audience instead of showing them why you’re different and why you’re the right solution for them.
Early customer traction
Similarly, knowing that there is a market out there for your product is necessary before any significant investment in marketing.
The easiest and most valuable way to determine if there is a market to reach is through acquiring your first five to ten customers. It doesn’t matter if those first few customers come from your network, traditional sales efforts, or giving your product away for free to get it in their hands. Before investing in any marketing, you have to have an existing customer base that can provide immediate, invested feedback on your product and brand as you prepare to scale.
Clear brand positioning
Once you understand your product, the problem it solves, and who will benefit from using it, you’re ready to communicate your unique value and niche within the market to win over customers.
Brand positioning is how you differentiate yourself from your competition in the mind of the target customer. A focused product offering and an initial customer base can validate the product you’re selling, but brand positioning goes beyond that to identify what makes your business the go-to solution for a specific audience’s problem. Brand positioning answers the “Why should I choose you?” question for potential customers. Having a clear and concise answer to this question can empower your marketing team from the onset to craft this vision of your business in the mind of your target audience.
Stage 2: Be prepared to figure these out quickly
Once you get the ball rolling with a marketing investment, these operational questions will become important to answer. You don’t need to have everything below figured out as you plan a marketing launch, but they will become pressing issues the closer you get to initiating and implementing a new marketing strategy. The more thought you can put into them ahead of time, the better place you’ll be in to make smart, strategic decisions as you grow (and the less money will go to waste as you are figuring things out).
Tracking, attribution, and feedback
Without getting end-to-end tracking in place, it’s impossible to attribute success to your marketing efforts or find opportunities to learn, iterate, and optimize your approach. Tracking lets you see where leads came from, how they engaged with each stage of your marketing funnel, and when they converted, all of which can be leveraged to optimize campaigns. Once leads start rolling in, there also needs to be a feedback loop with your sales team to identify quality leads and adjust campaigns to capture more of them.
Tracking also gives you the ability to identify where people are dropping out of the funnel, so that those funnel leaks can be plugged. End-to-end tracking will show you where someone learns about your brand and what actions they take from there so you can identify what points will increase chances of conversion, or stop a lead in its tracks.
For example, if your top of funnel advertising directs people to an educational hub where they sign up for your newsletter, you have better visibility into their funnel journey now that they’re part of your owned audience. Maybe you send a follow up email with a related blog article and then you never see someone open your emails again. Or, you send a discount code in your follow up and see people convert immediately. Tracking helps you identify these points and verify your tests so your marketing team can optimize your efforts.
Customer acquisition economics
Once you have goals and KPIs, the next step is to define more specific targets that measure your growth so you can evaluate your progress. The most essential KPI is your customer lifetime value (LTV), or how much revenue you can expect to get from an average audience member over their lifetime as a customer. Combined with a solid understanding of your cost of services or cost of goods per unit, customer LTV will determine your maximum allowable cost per acquisition (CPA), a key metric in any marketing effort. CPA determines your budget for ad spend and tying it to a KPI gives you a solid foundation to plan your paid campaigns in a way that brings a positive return on investment, instead of spending frivolously on gut instinct.
Sales process that can handle leads (and close deals)
Growth opportunities can come with operational challenges, especially on the sales side. Instead of pushing leads to an unprepared sales team and potentially losing out on deals, it’s best to consider how you’ll scale your sales process as you grow. A manual system is fine for now, but as you fuel your marketing efforts, you need to start forming a plan of how you’ll ensure your sales process stays as frictionless as possible.
We’ve worked with companies where an influx of new leads come through, but get dropped by a sales team before they can turn into customers. A good marketing partner will be ready to audit and improve your sales process as you grow, ensuring that your team is ready to make the most of any opportunity that comes your way. Whether you’re missing out on opportunities because you don’t have a reliable, robust CRM or an untrained receptionist holding you back, Brolik can help you spot the gaps and tighten your operations.
If you’re considering scaling your business, odds are you’ve already seen some success. Tapping your existing customer network to gather reviews and testimonials, advocate for your brand on social media, or produce other user generated content (UGC) like case studies will help you convince a broader audience to take a chance on your company. Social proof is one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing as it creates trust and signals credibility. It shows potential customers the results they can expect from your product directly from those without a vested interest in your company.
It will be a necessary part of middle- and bottom-of-funnel marketing efforts, so gather some customer reviews or at least a list of happy customers you can reach out to for testimonials and case studies before considering a marketing engagement.
A good, quality offering
You don’t have to have the perfect product or service immediately when you launch growth marketing efforts, but having a solid offering that will win over customers – and keep them – will make a huge difference. It is extremely difficult to successfully acquire and retain customers with a sub-par product. At the very least, you need to meet their expectations and satisfy them, otherwise your customer turnover will be extremely high.
For businesses that rely on frequent repeat customers, even if you keep throwing money at acquiring new customers, you won’t have a sustainable business if each customer buys once and never comes back. Your customer acquisition efforts will always be chasing your customer churn – a position you don’t want to be in.
Sufficient supply to meet demand
With an influx of customers from your marketing investment, you have to be ready to meet the increased demand. Do you have a plan to scale operations? Will that require a bigger sales team? Or a bigger team to deliver service? What about manufacturing capability? What other aspects of your business will need to ramp up as you scale?
You don’t need to start implementing your plan now, but you need to know where potential bottlenecks will be and have a solid idea of how you will address them. This speeds up the troubleshooting process when you hit roadblocks so you can resolve bottlenecks quickly. If you’re not prepared, you can hit marketing success and delivery failure at the same time. Without an idea of how to accommodate increased demand with increased marketing, your efforts can be for nothing.
Consistent outbound messaging
Even with the best product in the world for a specific audience in a huge market, growth will be difficult without solid messaging that communicates exactly why your solution is right for your audience. Building off what you established with brand positioning, your brand messaging will help you craft the right way to talk about your offering to show your audience how it will solve their problem or pain point.
No matter where someone finds you or how they engage with you it is crucial to be consistent in how you communicate your value. With effective messaging you can foster a sense of need from your audience, without having to convince them to give your company a try.
Stage 3: Areas for improvement over time
These don’t need to be squared away immediately, but they will need to be addressed at some point. The sooner you can wrap your head around these potential challenges, the smoother your growth trajectory will be.
A plan to scale your team
Expanding a business goes beyond having enough product to meet your new demand. As you scale your operations, your team and its capabilities become more crucial than ever. You don’t want to risk bottlenecking your growth because your team isn’t able to accommodate the extra business.
Before investing in marketing, you should have an idea of what teams will need more support and how you’ll hire more people. More importantly, you should have a sense of what a good fit for your team looks like, to ensure you add the right people to your team at the right time. Hiring is expensive and time consuming, so having a solid recruitment strategy makes all the difference. Planning ahead as you grow will make it easier for you to onboard people when you need them, rather than playing catch up and scrambling to add someone to your team.
Strong digital foundation
These days, a strong digital presence is the most important asset for the majority of businesses. For many businesses, that means a website that offers at the very least a good experience for users and is optimized for search. For other companies it means relying on other digital platforms, like a strong social media presence.
Even if marketing efforts direct traffic to whatever digital platforms are most valuable for your company, without a thoughtful structure that informs and encourages valuable actions you may bottleneck your operations and stunt your growth. For companies that rely on their website to drive leads or convert customers, site architecture, information, and ease of use are all crucial. You want to provide useful information at the right time with a logical layout that makes your site easy to navigate while providing a good user experience. Use your site to inform, combat any potential customer hesitations, and provide clear calls to action and valuable conversion points.
Cohesive visual identity
Eventually, you can take your branding to the next level with a visual identity that complements your brand positioning and messaging, while expressing your unique aesthetic. A brand’s visual identity is one of the most impactful assets you have as it builds credibility, familiarity, and communicates your product, all without words. Think about some of the biggest companies out there and how the majority of people can recognize their brand just from a swoosh or a golden set of arches. It’s a type of brand recognition you can’t buy, but which gets built over years of careful cultivation of your visual identity.
Often visuals are the first thing that grabs attention, and it’s key to have a consistent identity across your physical and digital presences. A clear visual identity can also communicate how you want to see yourself in the future and get customers to buy into that vision. While you may not have a sleek, high-tech product now, you can set the tone early on with the right modern visuals and work up to your goal.
When you’re ready to expand, the right growth marketing team can provide the guidance and tactical know-how to achieve your goals. We’ve made it work for clients across industries and delivered results like growing a family business from $23MM to over $40MM in revenue that ended with an acquisition, or growing revenue 450% in a year for a local B2B service. But without the proper foundation for success, you may not make the most of your investment or waste it entirely.
If you’re eager to scale your business, take our quiz and see if your operations are in a place where you’ll benefit from growth marketing efforts. With all your ducks in a row, those dreams of double digit growth for your business can quickly become a reality. Or, if you’re not quite there, you’ll have a clear set of priorities to hit in order to be ready to scale. No matter where you are, our growth experts are ready to guide you to whatever your next stage is.