Seven tips to grow a business: transformation for the digital age

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Whether you’ve owned a business for just a short time, or you’ve been a business owner for years, there is always a need to grow a business. For most business owners, growing a business starts by scaling it using a technology-driven marketing strategy. It also involves a great deal of innovation.

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Grow a business while wearing many hats

Before you can start focusing on growth, it's important to understand the many hats business owners must wear in order to be successful. For example, every business owner must market their business to prospective customers and the general public.

In determining what your digital strategy is, you will have to consider many things. Within marketing, you will have to take on numerous roles. Even if you hire someone to handle some aspects of your digital marketing strategy, you will still have to oversee it and make decisions about that strategy.

Some of the hats you will have to wear in the marketing aspect of your business include branding expert and logo designer, storyteller, copyright lawyer, videographer and editor, graphic designer, social media manager, email marketing, search engine optimization guru, public relations expert, and influencer and affiliate marketing coordinator. Working to grow a business requires all of these roles because businesses don't grow without some effort and a strategy to get the word out about the goods or services you provide.

Feed the content mill

Whether your business has anything to do with publishing, you will also have to serve as both editor-in-chief and content creator. A digital marketing strategy requires you to feed the content machine on a regular basis.

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This will enable you to keep your website updated and relevant to the latest trends. Even if you hire someone to provide your content, you will still have to oversee the process and edit the content as needed.

In addition to actually providing content, you will need to stay on top of search engine optimization (SEO) trends by keeping track of the keywords people are using to find businesses and products like yours. You understand your business better than anyone else, so ideally, you will be the one doing the keyword research.

You will have the best understanding of which keywords will work for your business and then be able to develop content that uses those keywords in ways that make sense for your business. A website is a crucial tool in efforts to grow a business, and using the right keywords will bring prospective customers to your virtual doorstep. There's more on SEO below.

Be the project manager

Growing a business will also require you to be the project manager, which goes beyond simply running the day-to-day operations. Project managers must think about every aspect of a project, and as a business owner, the same holds true of your business.

You must be able to see how your digital marketing strategy fits in with your day-to-day operations because one feeds right into the other. You are also the one who will come up with all of the ideas to improve the business and its processes.

A project manager takes the work performed by a group of people and combines it into one cohesive, working unit. To grow a business, a project manager must look at every aspect of the business, which is also what a business owner must do.

Project managers are responsible for defining and communicating objectives, lining up what's needed to complete the project, like the workforce, needed information, and various agreements, and managing the cost, time, scope, and quality of the project. Business owners must take on these responsibilities as well.

Six ways to grow a business

Once you understand the many different hats you will need to wear in order to grow a business, it's time get down to the nitty gritty. There are six different ways you can grow a business, and as you create your digital marketing strategy, you will need to know which of these ways you are targeting.

The Harvard Business Review describes these six ways to grow a business as new processes, new experiences, new features, new customers, new offerings and new models. Some of these methods will come easier than others, but you must know your options before you can start deciding which method you want to use to grow a business.

  1. New processes – This method involves taking the products or services you already sell and figuring out a way to lower your costs while providing the same goods or services. The only change that's being made is reducing the margins on what you already sell to the same people who already buy your products or services
  2. New experiences – This technique is a little more complex, although it is simple in the fact that it involves selling the same goods and services to the same people who already buy from you. Instead of reducing margins, you're looking for new ways to connect with your customers and improve the experience they have when buying from you. Your website can provide an easy way for you to change customers' experience by adding value to their purchases without spending much additional money. If you also come up with new processes to reduce costs, you can keep your margins the same while adding new value through the website or another type of experience.
  3. New features – Enhancing the goods or services you already sell can convince people to buy from you more often. You may also be able to attract new customers by offering additional features you didn't offer before.
  4. New customers – Finding new customers is perhaps the most obvious method to grow a business. You're simply increasing the number of people who buy from you by reaching new customers through marketing, social media or other means of communication.
  5. New offerings – This method involves coming up with new products or services you haven't offered before. Not only can you capture purchases from current customers, but you can also attract new customers who are interested more in the new product or service than in what you offered before.
  6. New models – If you sell products, this idea is simple as it involves coming up with new versions of what you already sell. If you sell services, this method of growing a business can also involve switching to a subscription model for your services.

Whenever you decide to grow a business, you must be intentional about the method you choose instead of just allowing the pieces to fall where they may. Resources are limited, so you should focus your time, effort and money on the best areas of potential growth for your company.

Now that you've decided which strategies you want to use to grow a business, he following tips will help you do it step by step.

1. Tapping your digital marketing channels

Whichever method or methods you decide to use to grow a business, you will find it necessary to tap your digital marketing channels. Deciding which route you want to follow to grow your business will enable you to develop the best digital marketing strategy possible.

For example, the strategy you would use to find new customers will look different than the strategy you use to market enhancements to your goods or services. Finding new customers will require you to advertise in different places or perhaps use different keywords to market your business.

On the other hand, if you're going to enhance your products or services, you must develop ways to communicate the improvements you have made in a way that convinces people to buy. Social media offers an excellent way to do this.

In fact, social media is a very versatile part of your digital marketing strategy, so it should play a role in whatever method you use to grow a business.

2. How to use social media to grow your business

When you're trying to grow a business, it's important to understand the many digital marketing tools that are at your fingertips. If you don't already have a website, social media is a great first step. If you do have a website, then you can use social media to drive more traffic to your website.

Either way, social media is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. Some business owners have found that all they needed to do was build a social media presence to grow their business because it gets the word out about what they do or sell.

Connecting with influencers is an excellent way to gather social media followers. It may be worth the money to sponsor one or more influencers if you can figure out who your target customers are following. The key is to do your research so you can target influencers whose following is made up of your target customers.

3. Using a website to grow a business

In addition to social media, you've also got to take other steps to grow a business. Your website is an excellent tool, but it's only as good as the traffic it attracts. To keep your website relevant, you will need to update it regularly with blog posts about your industry.

You can then use social media to pull in traffic. You will also have to stay on top of which keywords customers are using to find businesses like yours. Use the keywords you discover in your blog posts so that people will be able to find them when running a search on the topic.

Tools like Yoast, which is a plugin for the online publishing platform WordPress, are great at helping you optimize posts for keywords. You must use them often enough in the post to rank for the keyword but not so much that it looks like keyword stuffing.

4. Capture leads

You should also use your website to provide value to potential customers in exchange for them handing over their contact information, especially their email address. You do this by offering a free e-book or other downloadable content that they must enter their email address to receive.

The more valuable the content is, the more likely that your potential customers will give you their email address. You can then use their email address to target them with marketing emails and hopefully attract them as a paying customer.

To develop such content, look at the problems your prospective customers deal with the most. If it's an issue they're dealing with, they will likely be more than happy to provide their contact information in exchange for a helpful e-book or guide on the topic.

As you build your email list, you should work on ways to engage with your customers by providing them helpful content that sets you up as an expert in your field. The more they see you as an expert, the more likely they will be to come to you when they are ready to buy. Tools like MailChimp make it easy to track your emails and see which content is getting the most interest.

5. Consider your value proposition

As you innovate within these different ways of growing a business and develop your marketing strategy, you should also be thinking about the value proposition provided by your company. The key is to give much more than your customers, employees and other stakeholders ever expect. You can communicate your efforts and the extra value you provide via your email list and social media accounts.

Younger people especially are now looking for Certified B Corporations, which basically just means that they give back to the world. Certified B Corporations are legally required to think about the impacts of their decisions on all their stakeholders, including their customers, employees, suppliers, community and environment.

They balance their purpose with their profits, forming a community of leaders who use their businesses as a force for good. Consumers know that every time they spend money, they're casting a vote for the company they're doing business with.

By voting with their money, consumers can choose to support companies that do more than just earn a profit. When you decide to become a Certified B Corporation, you're demonstrating that you care about all your stakeholders and the world you live in. By advertising that you are a Certified B Corporation, you create opportunities for growth because you attract people who otherwise might go elsewhere with their money.

6. Use your network

One other thing to think about when you're trying to grow a business is your network. In many cases, it's the people you already know who will help your business grow, and that's not the only way your network can help your business grow.

Your network will also include people who can help you with the work that must be done in order to grow a business. You should always ensure the quality of the people you work with, including writers, SEO gurus, technical experts, and more.

You should always strive to do business with ethical people because they will help you grow your business for the long term instead of just for temporary success. Those who are unethical may say they're using shortcuts to grow your business, but such black hat techniques will cause your business to crash and keep you from long-term success.

Your business should also include other like-minded entrepreneurs. Not only will they be able to help grow your business, but you will be able to help them in return. Networking with other entrepreneurs will enable you to share your resources and expertise and guide each other through difficult times.

7. Using leverage to grow a business

Finally, you may have heard it said that to make money, you have to spend money, but that can be hard to do if you don't have the funds sitting an account and waiting to be spent on growth efforts. As a result, you may find it necessary to take on some leverage through a loan with the Small Business Administration or another source.

Some agencies also hand out grants for small businesses, but it is much more difficult to get a grant than a loan. Most grants are reserved for non-profit organizations, but the SBA and other government agencies like the Economic Development Administration do give grants for small business owners who meet certain requirements.

To take out a loan, you will need to write a business plan and present it to the bank or other institution you are trying to borrow money from. The business plan must include three to five years of financial projections and a clear explanation of who you are and what your credentials are.

The business plan must also show how you will be able to pay the loan back by demonstrating that you know what to do to grow your business. The lender will want to see that you will make plenty of money so you can pay them back. They will also want to have an understanding of the business and how it operates.

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