One of the biggest challenges for business owners when it comes to growing their business is troubleshooting the problems that are holding back their growth. With so many responsibilities on your plate, it can be hard to find time to diagnose what’s holding your business back.
We’ve been working with businesses on this problem for years, and there are a few common (but critical) mistakes businesses are making that are crippling their growth potential. Do any of these sound familiar?
Mistake #1: Not Committing to an Ideal Customer
If you were building a house, would you mix and match any kind of building material you could find? Of course not! You’d create a specific design and select the best materials that fit your design.
Building your business follows a similar principle. The best businesses aren’t built out of an indiscriminate, unintentional client base. They’re designed for growth, accumulating ideal “building blocks” in the form of ideal customers.
For your business to unlock its growth potential, you need to have a confident idea of who your ideal customer is. With that knowledge, you are able to position your business model to serve that customer on a larger scale and drive business growth.
And finally, don’t waste time pursuing a non-ideal customer. If you happen to have the good fortune of winning a deal from a non-ideal customer--it doesn’t mean that that is reproducible. It’s like fools gold. Chase revenue, close deals, but don’t build your strategy around those types of customers.
How to Identify/Commit to Your Ideal Customers
Here’s a question that provides a strong starting point for this discussion. If you could clone your 3 best customers, who would they be and why? What makes them so great? Keep in mind, I don’t necessarily mean your biggest account. I’m talking about your favorite customer.
For example, many business owners I’ve talked with say that they would love more of this kind of customer:
- One who is happily loyal to your brand
- Who consistently pays on time
- Who purchases your products/services with the strongest profit margin
- Who refers more business to you (or repeats their purchases)
These clients are financially profitable and logistically efficient. They fit what you do best without unnaturally altering and straining your business model. They represent the best building blocks for your business.
Once you’ve identified this ideal customer persona, you need to commit to targeting this kind of customer. You need to be targeting and speaking to this ideal customer persona. Capture their attention in order to build your business with these “perfect bricks”.
Mistake #2: Not Having a Clear, Consolidated Value Prop
With focus on your ideal customer comes a focus on your value proposition. Plain and simple, growth doesn’t happen when your resources and your focus are spread thin between too many different priorities. Not having a clear, consolidated value prop hinders your growth because you never excel in your offer to your best customer. You need to know what your ideal customer is looking for - what they value - so that you can adjust your business accordingly.
Your value proposition shouldn’t look like a list of your services; it should reflect the aspects of your offer that your ideal customer values the most. Maybe that’s the solution you provide or feeling they’re left with after interacting with your company. Whatever it is, it should be memorable, true, and front-and-center in your marketing.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of strong value propositions.
Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club started as a viral video and turned into a genuine competitor to established brands like Gillette. Why? Because they focused on their experience rather than their features like most razors do. They sum it up as, “A great shave for a few bucks a month.” A “great shave” promises quality (and less razor bumps) while a “few bucks a month” promises value. They do more than just razors, but they’ve prioritized their best product. After all, if you buy a razor, you’ll likely want the other items too!
Burns & McBride Home Comfort Services
The same principles apply to a service-based business like Burns & McBride (a Value Prop client). They’ve carefully chosen what attributes to highlight in their value proposition to set them apart from other competitors, and they’ve done it in a single, confident sentence.
- They’re “complete” - Whatever system you have, they’re equipped to help.
- They’re “guaranteed” - In an industry with a few bad apples, people value promises that back up the work.
- They’re “flexibly priced” - This is very different from “affordable” or “cheap”. Flexibility highlights their desire to work with clients to deliver their solution in an accessible way.
Every word in their carefully crafted value prop speaks clearly to their perfect customer - someone who values quality work from a confident provider. It gives you a clear sense of what they do and the kind of service you can expect - a perfect value proposition.
How to Start Crafting a Clear Value Prop
Maybe you're wondering how to develop a value proposition like we've talked about: one that's clear, consolidated, and powerful. To get your insight flowing, we’ve got a handy question guide for you. This guide will walk you through the three major areas that inform a powerful value proposition, such as:
- Innovation (how you deliver new value to your market through your offerings)
- Endurance (how your unique offer is able to maintain its initial value over a long period of time)
- Brand Experience (how your customer experiences your company's values through the presentation fo your offerings)
It's a quick easy guide full of questions to help you define your value proposition. You can get a download below.
Consider taking this question guide beyond a one-person brainstorm. Talk to your team members, especially your salespeople. What do they hear from clients and prospects? Take their insight and use it to inform your value proposition creation.
Take it one step further and include your customers when appropriate. Ask them why they purchase from you - what do they like most about what you offer? Why do they purchase from you specifically and not one of your competitors?
The more insight you can gain from your key audiences, the more you can inform your value proposition and position your business for actualized growth.
Mistake #3: Not Being Intentional About Marketing
Marketing is an unfortunate cause of anxiety for many business owners. You know your industry, you know your offer, but you’re not confident when it comes to how to find and convince your ideal customer. You know you should be “doing marketing”, but just checking the box isn’t cutting it.
Unintentional marketing is often built on the myth, “If you build it, they will come.” Too many owners are so focused on their product or service that they neglect promoting it. With so much time and energy devoted to the meat of your business, it’s not uncommon for your marketing strategy to get the scraps.
Marketing isn’t occasionally remembering to send an email to your customer list. It’s not hoping a fan shares your social media post or sporadically boosting a post that did well. Marketing can quickly become a drain on your time and resources if you aren’t intentional about your strategy. No more isolated, unchoreographed efforts - your marketing needs to start with the final goal.
When I talk about marketing, I’m talking about the strategy and program that you need to create revenue-generating opportunities. If it’s not ultimately building or fortifying your revenue, it’s not contributing to your growth.
To get your business on a path to new levels of growth, you need to take steps to ensure that the time, energy, and resources you’re investing in your marketing are intentionally contributing to that growth. Here are a few ways we recommend pursuing a more intentional approach to marketing.
Don’t Be Afraid to Commit to Marketing
Whether it’s tight margins or lack of Midas-touch marketing know-how, don’t let marketing be an “optional” item on your to-do list. It’s easy to put off things that aren’t easily done right now. Marketing is no exception.
Thankfully, the first steps of committing to an intentional marketing strategy are easily accessible. It begins with research - evaluate what strategies, tools, and people will have the most impact on your revenue-generating activities.
In my experience, the key to marketing success rests primarily with the last item in that list - people. Strategies and tools are only effective in the hands of someone who understands them and has the time to leverage them. If you can find the right people to help you along the way, you will fast-track your journey to marketing success.
Here’s my recommendation on this point: find the right people at each level of your marketing strategy.
As your company gets bigger, the foundations are tested. Your foundations might not have been under strain doing less than $2 million a year in revenue, but as you add more weight, cracks in your structure become more evident. For companies doing $2-$50 million a year, you might want to consider an executive consultant or revenue coach. A provider like this will be the most helpful when it comes to fixing your marketing foundations. Things like solidifying your value proposition, clarifying your brand, and improving your sales efficiency.
Once you have shored up your strategy and brand direction, evaluate if you need help with implementation. After all, marketing isn’t worth much without execution. Some businesses prefer to hire in-house while others enjoy the benefits of outsourcing their specialized needs. In-house marketers are generally able to give more time and attention to a larger volume of needs. Out-sourced marketing is helpful when you need specific specializations to carry out your strategy.
Don’t let marketing carry on as a pain point instead of a profit point for your business. Don’t get discouraged by wasted efforts or tactics that didn’t come through. Find the people you can trust to handle your strategy and your implementation. Find the most cost-effective way to get the right help. Then you can see your business grow through an intentional, coordinated marketing strategy.
Getting Professional Insight into Your Value Proposition
At Value Prop, we work with business owners who are in the fight of their lives to grow their businesses; who have passion and vision but need the time, mental space, and practical know-how to find new paths forward.
Our Revenue Throughput Program condenses decades of strategy, marketing, and sales experience into actionable work sessions that give you the keys to unlock new growth. That's how Value Prop helps B2B companies do business growth on purpose.
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