To help small businesses identify unique growth strategies, we’ve gathered fifteen insightful suggestions from founders, CEOs, and other industry leaders. From implementing an exclusive membership or loyalty program to offering specialized training or certification programs, these experts share their top strategies for business growth once you’re established.
Implement Exclusive Membership or Loyalty Program
A unique growth strategy for an established small business could be to create an exclusive membership or loyalty program. This program could offer members special access to new products, discounts on services, or even VIP events.
By cultivating a loyal customer base and rewarding their ongoing support, the business can not only boost sales but also enhance customer retention and brand advocacy. It fosters a sense of community and exclusivity, setting the business apart from other competitive businesses.
Focus on Enhancing Customer Experience
Focusing on customer experience is a unique growth strategy that can help you grow significantly. As the owner of a small-business blog, I’ve always interviewed founders of small businesses that have gone on to excel within a short time. Most of these founders agree that the customer is king, and you should cross all bridges to make customers happy.
Customers’ perceptions can hinder your business or contribute to significant growth. Always produce quality products, and customers will share their positive experiences on social media and tell the world about your products or services. The fast growth of small businesses largely depends on their ability to make existing and prospective customers happy. Simply use your small size to communicate with customers and anticipate their needs, leading to faster and more sustainable growth of your business.
Stefan Campbell, Owner, The Small Business Blog
Pursue a Micro-Market Expansion Strategy
While expanding internationally is a common growth strategy, consider the opposite approach: micro-market expansion. Identify smaller, underserved markets within your current region or niche and tailor your products or services to their specific needs.
In my experience with a specialty tea company, we identified a growing demand for unique tea blends in specific neighborhoods within our city. We opened small pop-up shops in these areas and curated tea selections that catered to the local tastes and preferences. This hyper-local approach resulted in a dedicated customer base in each neighborhood and increased overall sales.
Micro-market expansion can help you capture niche markets that larger competitors may overlook.
Share Industry Knowledge and Expertise
Sharing knowledge and expertise within your industry or niche is a powerful aspect of a community-centric growth strategy. This involves disseminating valuable information and insights, such as blog posts, webinars, workshops, and tutorials. By providing consistently valuable content, your business establishes itself as an authority in its niche, building trust and credibility among community members.
At Wainbee, we share our industry knowledge and expertise through media outreach, social media, conferences, and other corporate events. We actively engage in collaborative efforts with brand partners and associations. We regularly contribute articles and insights to industry-specific publications in print and online to reach a wider audience and position ourselves as thought leaders.
Leverage Industry-related Partnerships
A unique growth strategy for an established small business is to leverage the strength of partnerships. Work with complementary businesses in your industry. Create joint promotions or packages that provide consumers with a holistic approach.
For instance, we could collaborate with a sleep specialist to offer consumers a “Sleep Wellness Package.” This package may include a high-quality mattress, individualized sleep consultations, and access to sleep-enhancing products. By cross-promoting one another’s services and products, both businesses can draw into each other’s customer bases and increase their visibility and revenue.
This strategy promotes community engagement and establishes a small business as a specialist, fostering sustainable growth and customer value.
Diversify Products or Services
Once you have established your small business, consider diversifying your products as a unique growth strategy. Start with identifying complementary products or services you can offer. These offerings should seamlessly blend with your existing set of merchandise. In my case, I also sought strategic partnerships with niche providers offering these complementary products or services.
Once you approach them for strategic partnerships, you can cross-sell or bundle your products/services with theirs. Product diversification also requires you to work on joint marketing campaigns. Collaborate with these partners to offer co-branded materials. While you focus on diversifying your products, streamline the experience of your customers and track the results.
For my e-commerce startup, I largely counted on analytics tools to track the performance of our partnership. In the process, we could come up with subsequent strategies to remain on the growth trajectory.
Set Up an Effective Retargeting Strategy
Many businesses focus intensely on new-customer acquisition, often overlooking lost leads. We set up an effective retargeting strategy that sent personalized messages to potential customers who left items in their cart or browsed products but didn’t buy. We weren’t just nudging them; we were solving problems.
For instance, if they abandoned a cart due to high shipping costs, we’d offer a limited-time free-shipping code. It’s a reminder that persistence and problem-solving can often turn a lost sale into a loyal customer.
Invest Time in Organic Marketing
For any small business aiming to grow, one growth strategy I’ve always believed in is organic marketing. It’s like planting seeds and watching them flourish over time. When I think back to the foundational days, we recognized the power of a genuine online presence. You don’t need a mountain of cash for it, either.
Here’s the thing: just by investing some time in creating meaningful content online, you pave a path for potential customers to discover you. No flashy ads, no aggressive pitches. Instead, it’s all about sharing your story, your products, and what makes your business unique.
Over time, this allows people to find you naturally when they search online. And trust me, the return on this investment is genuinely impressive. It’s not just about customer acquisition; it’s about building trust and long-lasting relationships.
Explore Acquisition or Partnership Opportunities
As your small business grows, explore opportunities to acquire or partner with complementary businesses. Look for businesses that can enhance your product or service offering, expand your customer base, or provide cost-saving synergies.
In the marketing industry, strategic acquisitions, such as a graphic design firm, can allow for comprehensive marketing solutions in-house and increase competitiveness in the market.
Be cautious and conduct thorough due diligence when considering acquisitions, and ensure that partnerships align with your long-term growth strategy.
Span Chen, Growth Director, Notta
Implement a Customer-Centric Feedback Loop
Discussing the nuances of growth strategies, particularly for budding enterprises, is heartening. From experience at the helm of a high-performing software product team, one unique strategy stands out: the “Customer-Centric Feedback Loop.”
Businesses, be it retail or D2C e-commerce, thrive when actively integrating customer feedback into product development cycles. Think of it as an iterative dance; customers lead with feedback, and the product gracefully follows. Over the last year, 72% of the most successful feature releases were directly influenced by customer insights. This creates a sense of ownership among users, fostering loyalty.
As the saying goes, “Tell me and I forget. Involve me and I understand.” Making your customer a part of your journey isn’t just growth; it’s smart business.
Expand Digital Marketing Efforts
Once established, my small business focused on our digital-marketing efforts to continue growth. This allowed us to maintain and further leverage our client base, as well as take advantage of the many platforms and tools on the internet.
For example, my company decided to create a newsletter and began a regular posting schedule on all of our social-media platforms. Expanding our digital footprint has positively contributed to our growth, keeping us relevant to our clients and on top of industry trends.
Listen and Act on Customer Needs
A unique growth strategy that small businesses can implement once they’ve established themselves is to listen to their customers. When a product is loved and people are willing to pay for it, it’s easy to get caught up in the next big thing. The belief that the next best thing is at hand and the desire to get it out there for everyone to use can be overwhelming. However, if customers aren’t asking for the product in the way it’s being offered, then there’s no reason for them to continue purchasing.
It’s challenging to ask customers what they want because it requires self-evaluation and the willingness to improve and change the brand’s identity. It’s crucial for customers to know who they’re buying from and what they can expect—and this only comes from consistently listening to their needs and acting on those needs in ways that are mutually beneficial.
Adopt Sustainable Supply Chain Practices
Integrating sustainable and eco-friendly practices throughout your entire supply chain is a consideration. This involves sourcing materials, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution with a focus on reducing environmental impact.
A small clothing brand’s experience involved transitioning to sustainable materials, minimizing packaging waste, and partnering with eco-conscious suppliers. This not only appealed to environmentally conscious customers but also opened doors to collaborations with eco-friendly retailers and expanded market reach.
Embracing a green supply chain not only helps the environment but can also attract a dedicated customer base that values sustainability, driving long-term growth.
Prioritize Customer Retention
One strategy I recommend, which has worked well for my business, is customer retention. Small businesses often get so caught up in acquiring new customers that they forget about the ones they already have. Retaining existing customers is much more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Loyal customers not only bring repeat business but also act as brand ambassadors, referring your business to others.
That’s why it’s important to invest in building strong relationships with your current customers. Offer loyalty programs, personalized experiences, and exceptional customer service. Turn them into brand advocates who will spread the word about your business and bring in more customers.
Offer Specialized Training or Certification Programs
Consider offering specialized training or certification programs related to your industry. This strategy can not only generate additional revenue, but also position your business as an authority in your field.
This approach has worked wonders for a small software company. They developed a certification program for their software users, which not only provided valuable skills but also encouraged a strong community of certified professionals. Over time, this program became a revenue generator in its own right and expanded the company’s influence within its niche.
Specialized training and certification programs can enhance brand recognition and foster long-term relationships with customers and partners.