Plan if You Want to Grow Your Business

When business owners and executives ask us which marketing tactics work best; advertising, direct marketing, internet marketing, trade shows, etc., our response is to ask them about their growth objectives. What do growth objectives have to do with marketing? The answer: EVERYTHING!

Marketing strategies must be driven by Growth Objectives. Let me use a simple example to illustrate why. If I run a million dollar business and want to grow by 15% annually over the next 5 years, versus doubling revenues every year over the next five years, would this have an impact on my marketing strategies? Would I need to reach more prospects if I wanted to double my revenues? Would I have to use more lead generation tactics? Would I have to have a bigger marketing budget, more salespeople? Would I have to target new geographical areas. It’s obvious your marketing strategies would differ. The point is simply this: you must have well defined growth objectives – A PLAN – before you can develop marketing strategies and tactics that’ll get you where you want to go.

I know we all hate to plan; regardless of whether it’s our personal finances or business planning. So make it as painless as possible. Don’t worry about developing a full blown business plan, just focus on: defining your Growth Objectives, Identifying any Impediments to Growth, and determining what Drives your Growth.

  1. Define year on year growth objectives for the next 5 years. Make sure objectives are realistic and if you have history (if you’re not a start up), base them on the past two or three years. Do “what if scenarios” to see what happens if you take the projections up or down. Don’t try to be perfect, these projections won’t be cast in stone. You simply want to establish growth objectives that are achievable – if you do the right things.
  2. Identify Impediments to Growth…and plan to get rid of them. Identify all the things that would prevent you from achieving this growth –people issues, lack of capacity or capital, service capabilities, information technology, poor marketing, etc. Impediments are things you control, so it’s up to you to get rid of them.  Develop a plan to eliminate each impediment, and set priorities since it’s unlikely you’ll be able to deal with them all at once.
  3. Determine Drivers for Growth…and figure out how you’ll measure them. It’s not enough to simply develop growth objectives – you must clearly understand what will drive this growth. As an example, if you must do a consultation before you can secure a client, then consultations are a driver for growth. If your marketing efforts drive more consultations, then even if your close rate remains constant your revenues will increase.

Drivers for growth can be things such as number of prospects in the pipeline, close rates, number of sales meetings, number of phone calls received, number of seminar attendees, etc. Once they’re defined, set targets and measure your performance against each of them.

How you perform versus these drivers will determine whether you achieve your plan. This is where the link between growth objectives and marketing happens – marketing strategies and tactics must be designed to meet or exceed targets set for growth drivers.

Eventually the things you’ll need to measure – Drivers for Growth – will become clear. In fact in the outstanding book Good to Great – a recommended read for all business people (click here for more information about Good To Great) – Jim Collins states all Good To Great companies “attained a deep understanding of the key drivers in its economic engine, and built its system in accordance with this understanding…”.

These three steps are like a putting a stake in the ground. It’s really not that difficult, and once you do it, you’ll know exactly what needs to happen in order to achieve predictable growth. It’s the critical first step in building a marketing system.

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Ben Molfetta
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