The life cycle of businesses, products and services is shortening. As categories get disrupted by evolutionary ecosystems and revolutionary players, coupled with a seemingly endless supply of new entrants to the market, sustainable growth is harder to achieve than ever before. There is a constant instability that makes seeking out and renewing growth opportunities more necessary than ever.
But growth is tricky. Continuously identifying opportunities and executing activity to drive short-term and long-term business success requires planning, process, persistence, and to quickly pivot if required.
It’s hard. But hard is rewarding. Hard means you’re doing something right; you’re pushing yourself and your limits. It’s also hard because not every business knows how to achieve growth. Sure, we all have grand plans and ideas, but the reality of turning ideas into growth sustainably is seldom met.
Identifying and executing growth ideas depends on the resilience and adaptability of your business model and your current operations. Think about how easily you can (re)allocate investment, develop new innovative business models, and optimise based on feedback loops. This is an incredibly important point to consider. In short, how easily can your organisation execute your growth ideas?
Start by shining a light on your organisation. Identify your current position and threats to achieving your goals. For a quantitative performance view, look at your customer acquisition costs (CAC) and lifetime value (LTV). Speak to your existing customers (and the employees operating your growth levers) about the issues which matter to them, and the extent to which you currently address them. Review your current data input quality and performance across all marketing channels. This will tell you more about your business direction and capabilities, “as is”. It will help you to understand internal fixes needed, and potential areas to leverage for future growth (“to be”).
Look at what is happening in your market. What is happening in your category right now? Is the market changing? What disruption? What are the political, economic, cultural trends and influences to consider? How are your competitors serving your market and what are your existing value proposition’s share of voice by comparison? You could perform a SWOT, TOWS or VRIO analysis. The more environmental data gathered, the more informed you’ll be to seek out new growth opportunities.
How are your target customers behaving in the market? Identifying a growth opportunity compared to your competitors will only be valid if it’s what your potential customers actually want. Do you understand your customer’s needs, and are these being met by your company? Agree the small steps to bring you ever closer to, and gain insights from, your potential customers.
Armed with business, market and audience insight, you can start to plan for growth. Based on your goals there are a number of strategies to consider. Are you looking to grow the market, steal market share, innovate new products and services, or diversify altogether? Each strategy carries its own level of risk. To be able to take advantage of growth opportunities and optimise your efforts, your business needs to implement an effective planning, execution and optimisation system. Working within a structured agile marketing framework will allow you to stay on top of business, market and audience trends, and means you’ll be able to pivot efficiently and effectively, as needed.
We see “top digital marketing trends” reports every year. The latest tactics and trends usually revolve around updates to search, social, design, content and email. It’s not to be sniffed at, these are important tactical considerations. But don’t overlook the wider technological innovations which are often drivers of more fundamental trends in business and consumer behaviour.
Predicted digital trends for 2021 include conversational marketing, “zero-party” data, and AI/ML, while personalisation and email automation are (slowly) entering more wide-spread adoption. Additionally, speaking tactically, there are always growth opportunities in the latest updates and trends to be aware of, such as algorithm updates, new programme features or the adoption of new platforms.
In terms of wider trends, COVID-19 has reshaped and catalysed what consumers are looking for and how businesses should shape their technology investments. For example:
- Increased emphasis of health and safety – for staff and consumers
- Desire for human connection in a socially distanced world, aided by technology
- Conscious, ethical, transparent and inclusive consumerism
- Voice optimisation
- Rural innovation
- Pay later and transient ownership models
- 5G enabled XR (AR/VR)
Staying on top of the industry and maintaining strong governance across all of your touchpoints and growth opportunities is imperative. Not doing so could not only jeopardise your customer’s experience, but your potential revenue too. It is therefore vital to take the time to analyse and audit your market, your operations and your current activities at a strategic and tactical level. Use the learnings and insights to formulate short-term and long-term improvement plans.
To quickly assess your current growth barriers and opportunities, speak to our Growth practice.
This article was co-written by Seth Campbell, Head of Innovation, Etch Horizon.