You can’t cut your way to growth. Profitability? Yes, at least for a while. But, growth is an animal of a completely different color.
Growth requires increasing the top line and there are only four basic ways to accomplish that:
• Sell more of the products or services you currently offer
• Sell additional products or services in addition to those you currently offer
• Generate additional revenue (a premium) for your products and services
• Buy additional sales by purchasing your competitor
The odds are against you being able to substantially raise prices on your current product or service in the short term. Your customers are counting pennies, and your competitors are willing to undercut your prices at every turn. Here are four ideas to help you break out of the pack and grow:
1. Know more about your customer than they know about themselves.
Did you know you wanted an iPod, iPhone, or iPad before you saw one? Did you know that you needed bottled water, gourmet coffee, or TV’s with screens measured in feet not inches? Someone did because they knew more about their customers than the customers knew about themselves. Make it your business to be relentlessly focused on understanding your existing customers AND anticipating the desires and needs of your future customers.
2. Add so much value that you are impossible to ignore.
A reader asked me a very interesting question a few weeks back: “What does it mean to add value?” He went on to say that I – and virtually every other business writer – tossed the phrases “add value” and “value added” around like everyone knew exactly what that means. But, according to him, none of us ever explained the term.
Obviously, I missed an opportunity to add value to this person. So here goes: We add value when our product or service contributes more to the customer’s success or well being than he/she expected to receive OR when the customer would have reasonably expected to pay more than charged for the product or service provided.
Do that enough times with enough people, and you will become impossible to ignore.
3. Always be innovating and improving.
Past success proves you were right once. Your fifteen minutes of fame has now been reduced to a single 24-hour news cycle. Get used to it. You are either growing or dying, and your customers are asking: “Why you? Why now? What makes you relevant?”
4. Anchor it all in the culture.
Great cultures create great execution and customer experiences. Great execution and customer experiences create great brands. And, great brands give you credibility, longevity, and cache. You can’t ask for more than that.