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Bottom lines, market shares, client lists, there is no end to the things that healthy companies want to see grow. Long-term growth is the number one priority for the majority of investors, and that kind of sustained expansion doesn’t happen by accident.
In the same way that a rocket launch takes careful, strategic planning and countless teams and experts working in tandem, sustainable growth for your business requires a master plan. A fully fleshed-out growth strategy.
Let’s take a look at how a killer growth strategy is formed, and how you can start implementing it right away and blast off into the future of your company.
What is A Growth Strategy?
As the name suggests, a growth strategy is the plan you have in place to expand your business in every way possible. It includes ways to grow your reach, increase your customer base, and get that revenue flowing faster than ever.
When planning a growth strategy, your team will need to look for opportunities for growth, set clear objectives, and find the perfect strategies and tactics to make those goals a reality.
Growth opportunities for a business come in four forms.
- Market Penetration - Selling more of an existing product or service to existing customers
- Market Development - Bringing your existing products and services to new markets
- Product Development - Researching and developing the next big thing through new products and services
- Diversification - Growing your business into new markets and industries
These areas act as a ladder, and you should work to fully grow into the rung you’re on before climbing to the next. For example, you’ve likely heard that diversification shouldn’t be seen as a viable strategy for quick growth, however, this is often because companies jump to diversification before fully expanding in the other three areas.
Why A Growth Strategy is Important
It can be easy to brush past a dedicated growth strategy by assuming that everyone wants your company to grow and is as invested in that growth as you are. However, taking the time to craft a full strategy and share it continually with your team has tons of benefits.
- Clarity and Focus - Fully articulated visions and goals act as a guiding light for your entire organization. You can point to this strategy when making decisions about resources, initiatives, and more to keep everyone on track
- Sustainable Growth - When you fully understand your market, target audiences, and competitive landscape, you can enact change that keeps you growing in the long-term
- Competitive Advantage - By identifying unique value propositions, areas of expertise, and other things that make you stand out, you can position your company as a leader in your industry
- Increased Buy-In - One of the most common barriers to change is employee pushback. Managing this can be as simple as having a clear plan with obvious benefits to share with your team. Remind them of the goals regularly and see them get excited with you
- Effective Resource Management - A growth strategy helps you focus your resources, whether they be time, money, or talent, in the most effective and efficient ways. This ensures that you are not wasting resources on initiatives that do not align with your overall growth goals
Ultimately, a growth strategy allows you to present a united front, and keep your company moving toward a bright future without any unnecessary detours.
Growth Strategy Examples
So we know what a growth strategy is, but what are some potential frameworks you can use? Most successful growth plans are a combination of some of the following.
- Branding - Focusing on making your company as recognizable as possible
- Word of Mouth - Through referrals and ambassadors, you can leverage social proof and get people coming in the door already primed and ready to make a purchase
- Innovation - By ushering in the next big thing, you can establish yourself as an industry leader and give people what they didn’t know they needed
- New Locations - If you’ve reached market capacity in your current locations, you can take your company on the road and share the goodness around
- Promotion - People can’t invest in what they don’t know about! Getting more marketing out there can bring in growth fast
- Cost - Keeping costs low for your customers can bring in new folks and bolster disruptive innovation
- Mergers and Acquisitions - You can always grow by bringing in other companies that are finding success in new markets
When they live in the abstract, it can be hard to visualize different potential growth strategies. Let’s zoom in on three ultra-successful examples to examine how you can use similar strategies for your own company.
Tinder: Targeted Brand Advocates
I won’t bore you with an explanation of what Tinder is, but for any of you who weren’t there at the start, I’ll tell you what Tinder was. It was yet another small-time dating app that had a major problem. Not enough users.
To solve this fundamental issue, Tinder focused on finding brand advocates to go onto college and university campuses to spread the word. Once more people were swiping right on the idea of this app, and natural referrals took care of the rest.
Girls saw that their friends were using Tinder, and guys saw that there were girls on the app. The rest is history.
Nestle: Empowering Startups For Product Development
As one of the biggest food and beverage companies in the world, Nestle has a lot of market share and resources at its disposal. It’s been able to use that brand power to focus in on democratized innovation.
By putting in place opportunities for team members across the world to collaborate and pitch new ideas for growth, they’ve tapped into their greatest resource, their team. These think tanks have suggested everything from drone delivery to apps for inventory, allowing Nestle to continually grow and expand their market.
What’s more, Nestle actively connects with new startups to bring fresh perspectives and products to their lineup. By funding the future leaders in their niche, they’re able to capitalize on the growth that is happening around them.
Dropbox: Referrals as Market Expansion
Nowadays we think of cloud storage as a given. This wasn’t always the case though, and when Dropbox came onto the scene in 2008 they had their work cut out for them.
By designing a stellar referral program, they were able to bring in people at a break-neck pace. They offered additional free storage for every single new user you brought in, meaning that folks could have up to 16 free GB rather than the standard two.
While it took Dropbox a full year to reach one million users, the exponential growth of a well-implemented referral program allowed them to triple that number in only two months!
Growth Strategy Best Practices
Studies show that focusing on specific factors of your growth strategy can boost your ability to outperform competitors by nearly double. Here are the tips that will give you the most bang for your buck.
Tip One: Keep Track of Your Competitors
Blockbuster famously laughed at the idea of Netflix becoming a problem for their business. Now the streaming giant has a failed TV show about their previous competitor’s last existing store.
Turning this big of a blind eye to your competition leads to missed opportunities, resources going to the wrong projects, and ultimately a loss of market share.
Stay on top of the market trends, and always be aware of what your competition is up to. Don’t stop growing, because at any moment a scrappy young company could snatch up more market share than expected.
Tip Two: Conquer Your Home Market First
I can't stress enough the importance of growing one step at a time. Expanding into new locations and markets takes tons of time and resources, which is fine if you're running a tight ship at home base.
Before looking at new markets, new products, or heaven forbid new industries, make sure your current market is solidified. Dominate at home before even trying to gain abroad.
Tip Three: Keep Growth at the Core of Your Ethos
Encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking within your company. Foster a culture of innovation that allows employees to suggest new ideas and take calculated risks.
This can lead to breakthroughs and advancements that give your company a competitive edge. Make sure ideas are rewarded and celebrated, even if they don’t all end up being successful. Failure is just as important as success in the growth process.
Having agility and scalability baked into your core operations ensures that both your team and your infrastructure are ready to jump on growth opportunities whenever they arise.
The Bottom Line
If your brand wants any chase at getting long-term success and sustainable expansion, you’re going to need a killer growth strategy. By developing a plan, you can chart your course to success and ensure that your business continues to grow and thrive in the years to come.
Whether it’s through smart marketing tactics, innovative product development, or strategic partnerships, there are countless ways to drive growth for your company. So don’t wait any longer – start working on your growth strategy today and watch your business soar.
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