If we think about tech startups and growth, we normally think about companies like Paypal, Uber or AirBnB, but the truth is that for most companies – even the established and mature ones, growth and expansion are always a part of the goals. For this article I will not touch on growth strategies for established companies, but will focus on some basics for startups.
If startups follow a good strategy and are able to set proper goals and execute their growth right – with the customer in mind – then it would mean that their company would be able to continuously gain more exposure, get more leads and generate more customers and thus increase both value and revenue over time.
So how would a startup company – let’s say your company, be able to increase growth and reach those goals? We are lead to believe and from the rate of failure in startups, that growth is very difficult to achieve. I would argue that growth is not the hard thing to achieve, but instead the hard part is to make sure that 1) your have product market fit and 2) that your product is your marketing. Most companies try and scale before achieving this and that is a recipe for startup disaster.
Many startups normally attempt to utilize every available marketing tactic and channel for scaling growth, but that is a mistake. If you think strategically, you should know that there is a time for each channel and that not everything is going to work.
Jeff Bezos from Amazon was quoted as saying:
“Before if you were making a product, the right business strategy was to put 70% of your attention, energy, and dollars into shouting about a product, and 30% into making a great product…That is getting harder to do. The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies…the individual is empowered…
So yes, the individual is empowered, but so is the company, because it has the opportunity to actually start thinking about the customer and put the customer first before anything is even developed or communicated. This is a big shift from the push or shouting way, but one that I believe is very much needed.
In order to do this, companies need to make sure that they have talked to their customers, that they have built customer personas and empathy maps, have the right on boarding and looked at what the user journey is like and even involving their user experience team. If they get it right, then they are going to be able to actually delight and have happy customers who are willing to talk about their product or service.
So, while your product should be your marketing, you should also know what channels you can use to compliment what you have already built.
- Growth Hacking — You can use growth hacking to test, grow and do it on a budget. To take full advantage of this you need to involve your product and marketing teams and make sure you think about how this would drive engagement and ultimately growth for your company. For example- just think about the hotmail tactic of using a tag-line at the end of each email that said “get your free hotmail account” – You can read about a few more companies that did it here.
- Viral Growth – Consumers who favor a particular product will have no qualms about spreading the word to their personal and social circles, which in turn will continue to pass on the message to their own friends and acquaintances. If you’re wondering about how to scale your business, virality is an important element to pay attention to. Noah Kagan of App Sumo used a drop box give away to drive 250,000 signups. Here are a few other examples you can take a look at.
- Paid Media — If you want to test something quickly and be able to measure it and make sure that what you are doing will have positive ROI and reach the right audience, then paid is the best way to do it, but make sure you are doing it right. Think of BuzzFeed and how they used facebook ads to spread their viral stories. I actually wrote about an experiment I did that got me 1 million page views in 2 months using this tactic.
- Partnerships — If you are a SaaS startup for example you can think about what Xero, the accounting software did to increase growth and gain 120,000 customers in just 3 years. They had a bold go to market strategy that turned bookkeepers and accountants into trusted advisors – that would then recommend Xero to their own customers.
- Inbound — Companies that produce all kinds of unique and relevant content (blog posts, news articles, question and answer articles, reviews, audio and video content) will naturally be able to educate and lead prospects to find the information they need. These users will be turning to search engines to get to your sites and pages, so you need to learn about using Inbound and SEO to build growth for your business. Now a days, you could even use Paid to promote those articles to the right people and add some velocity to your inbound strategy.
So, remember to design your product or service with the customer in mind and make proper use of the channels that I mentioned. If done right both product and channels should bring the right customers for you, which are going to ultimately give you growth and increase your bottom line. Now get out there and grow!