Anyone can start an online business, but the hard part is growing it. That often requires time and money that many owners and CEOs don’t have at their disposal.
Successful business development begins with strategic planning. Here are a few useful tips that can help inspire and jumpstart your business development.
Define growth and success for your brand
The concept of growth and success varies from business to business. While a 5% annual profit growth may sound like an accomplishment in some industries, for others it might seem trivial.
Consider the various factors that could define growth and success, including:
- Profit growth/ cutting costs
- Added locations
- Team additions
- Opening in new markets
- Improved efficiency
- Increased production
- New signups/clients/customers
Some of these may be more important than others, depending on the product or service provided. But don’t just feel satisfied choosing one of these factors, but set measurable goals as well. If your goal is to grow profits, by how much, each year? What milestones will you set to ensure you have consistent growth?
Analyze your industry and competition
In our brand audits, we focus on the competition, the consumers and the industry as a whole. Who are the biggest competitors? What are their main selling points? What do consumers most care about?
Judging a brand on its own merit is one thing, but once compared to the rest of the pack, it starts becoming clearer how to improve and become a leader within your niche.
Create an engaging (and consistent) online brand
No matter your industry, there’s likely a similar-sized competitor waiting to take your next potential customer. Even if they have fewer offerings or competitive advantages, they may seem more appealing simply because of the quality of their brand.
When customers browse online, they look for signals of trust, reasons to believe in a brand. Every brand asset tells a story, including:
- Brand logos
- Colors and font types
- Imagery (photos and graphics)
- Website copy
- Social media content
- Overall layout and design
Websites and social accounts essentially act as online storefronts. If they don’t look presentable or appealing, your customer will shop elsewhere.
Tap into your network
Don’t expect new business to fall into your lap. You have to actively search for new opportunities and partnerships, otherwise, another brand may take your place.
LinkedIn is one of the best places for professional networking. Not only is it great for finding new hires, but it’s also a discovery tool for finding certain businesses by size, industry, location, and other relevant filters. Join relevant groups and reach out to individuals through mutual connections or with a well-written InMail message.
Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only social network- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit can be equally effective for finding new partners and team members when used correctly.
Cultivate your relationships with customers and clients
Congratulations- you’ve finally signed that customer or client you’ve been talking to for almost forever. But you’re not done yet. Now you have to maintain and grow that relationship.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It may even take several months or years before a client can fully trust you. Be patient in getting to know your brand- the effort will always pay off.
For example, we have an unwritten rule that we live by at Arcalea: maintain clear and consistent communication. We often make sure that no client email goes unanswered for more than two hours. All our responses are positive and helpful. Our meetings are preceded by an agenda to keep us on track, and a conference report for reference.
Go the extra mile and treat your customers as if they are your favorite. Over time, they’ll learn to perceive you as someone that creates value, rather than as a business that merely sells a product.
Track and monitor your leads and prospects
Once you get into the habit of finding potential clients, you need to create a system to manage them all.
It doesn’t particularly matter which system you use- whether it’s professional enterprise software like Salesforce or a simple excel sheet. What matters is that you find a way to consistently update the sheet according to the last touch point.
In other words, measure how far along the sales funnel each customer is.
While there are different names for the stage a customer is in, they are often referred to as leads (a potential customer) and prospects (a lead that matches the ideal customer criteria).
Organizing your contacts using these two qualifiers can help identify how to prioritize and what kind of language is best to use.
Business development entails a lot of hard work in building and producing a great product or service. Don’t expect changes to happen instantly.
Watching a company grow, both financially and in terms of its offerings, can be one of the most fulfilling experiences. When you put in the hours and the work, everything else should come naturally over time.
For more information on business development, or how Arcalea can help build your business, visit Arcalea today.