Growing a business is easier said than done. Companies of every size face challenges that suppress their growth. A company might have a great product or service but no business growth strategy to help it define, articulate and communicate where it is going.
A growth strategy is different from an annual plan and can be difficult to develop if you’re unfamiliar with what it is, why you need it and how to create it. Below we examine how to develop a business growth strategy that is dynamic and effective.
What is a Business Growth Strategy & Why is it Important?
A growth strategy usually starts by identifying and accessing opportunities within your market. It goes beyond your business and marketing plans, which detail how you’re going to meet specific business targets. Instead, a growth strategy addresses how your company is going to evolve to meet the challenges of today and in the future. A growth strategy gives your company purpose, and it answers questions about your long-term plans.
Growth strategies are important because they keep your company working towards goals that go beyond what’s happening in the market today. They keep both leaders and employees focused and aligned, and they compel you to think long-term. Bad decisions often happen when you make decisions based on today, instead of an emerging tomorrow.
How to Develop a Successful Business Growth Strategy
Developing a growth strategy demands coordination among a cross-functional group of stakeholders; it can’t be just a few people in a room with a whiteboard. Everyone involved should understand what they’re working towards and why, as well as what they’re expected to bring to the process.
To be successful in your strategy, you need to consider what will significantly impact business growth. Let’s take a look at a few:
Value Propositions and Growth Moves
For a company to expand, it needs to increase its reach with existing target customers and acquire new ones. To do this, the company must design a value proposition that clearly states what it does and why customers need it. Then it must create a growth strategy that provides the steps (i.e. growth moves) the company is going to make to take new things to market.
When T-Mobile U.S. came to us because there was dissatisfaction among its customers, we knew they needed a powerful new value proposition and go-to-market strategy. Through extensive market research, we identified a the opportunity for a wireless carrier who didn’t act like one – the “Un-carrier.”
Brand Relevance and Customer Experience
Even the most recognized brands in the world started from scratch at some point. So how did they become some of the biggest names in the market? By building relevance with customers and delivering a distinctive and integrated customer experience. Building a brand is much more than a logo and a color palette (although those things are important for brand recognition). Your brand should be recognized by its values and by how customers experience you – both of which should be highlighted in your growth strategy.
Olive Garden was already an industry leader when they came to us looking for a new way to achieve relevance with both their current customers and new ones. What was the key? Breadsticks and family.
The development of Breadstick Nation saw the brand’s success surge as it launched new breadstick products and experiences. And with a strategic focus on family, a new customer experience for children was created both in the restaurant and online.
Thinking Long Term
Being focused solely on the present and making snap decisions about the future is never a good idea. Your organization needs to invest time and energy in thinking about where the world is going and what it means for your customers, partners, employees, etc. Your growth strategy will help you make good decisions for the future of your business, even though it might seem uncomfortable to place bets when even the present seems uncertain.
Expanding into the New – Markets, Categories, Customer Segments…
Your company’s core business needs to be solid before you make big expansion moves. However, outlining longer-term goals will help you to determine the steps you need to take and measure your progress along the way. Think of it like a road map. Quick wins and small successes can be mile markers guiding you toward the long-term goal of expanding into other markets, categories and/or segments.
Furrion is a brand that was a leader in the manufacture of audiovisual equipment, appliances and power solutions for specialty vehicles, luxury RVs, yachts and consumer industries.
With this strength behind them, they were focused on entering the home appliance market. Prophet worked with Furrion to identify the brand purpose principles that would capture growth in this new market, including a new visual identity, which was unveiled with great success.
Growing at a Pace You Can Handle
We’ve all seen it before, and we’ll see it again – companies that grow too fast and then fail because they can’t keep up. A growth strategy will help you develop at the right pace for organization. The last thing you want to do is overextend yourself to secure short-term gains that will eventually put too much strain on your business and your people. It can be hard to make trade-offs, sometimes sacrificing the exciting for the sensible, but it is sometimes necessary for the overall health of your company. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take risks, but the risks you do take need to make sense in context of the big picture.
The Challenges of Developing a Business Growth Strategy
Developing a growth strategy is demanding and time consuming because it is a bespoke process. That said, some of the most common challenges in developing a growth strategy are:
- Opportunity and impact
- Defining your target customer segment(s), their needs and their pain points
- Evaluating the projected impact of the growth moves you want to make
- Understanding the feasibility of the growth moves (i.e. time, capabilities, resources)
- Alignment and prioritization
- Aligning leadership around a narrow set of well-defined goals
- Involving the right people and managing stakeholder expectations
- Setting priorities and sequencing growth moves in a timeframe that makes sense
- Not approaching it as a one-time task, instead of a continuous journey
- And most importantly…
- Not thinking big enough about what business you want to be in
Before you embark on creating your growth strategy you should consider how you’re going to tackle these challenges.
A dynamic growth strategy guides you and your team towards the future of your company. When you know what you want and have a way to get there, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of making hasty decisions that cost you in the long run. If you’re thinking about how to create or refine your growth strategy, Prophet can help.