Do you secretly practice your Shark Tank pitch when nobody’s around? Have you scanned commercial real estate listings lately and compared lease rates? Did you fall asleep last night excited about the recent spate of new orders your business received?
If any of these behaviors ring a bell, your business may very well be ready to scale.
For a lot of entrepreneurs, reaching this next phase—the growth phase—in your company’s history can be both thrilling and terrifying. But while you dream of growth and expansion, you also understand the importance of thinking it through, or you could risk losing everything.
Although you can’t predict the future, you can read the marketing signs that are one of many indicators that your business is ready to take the leap to the next level. Before you pull the trigger, check out the following five signs that your marketing is on track to accommodate your business growth:
1. Referrals are up. There’s no greater compliment than to have customers refer their friends. But when you start hearing from friends of friends, it’s clear your customers are saying great things about you behind your back.
2. Inbound customer requests have reduced the need for cold calling. And what a relief that is, huh? But simply fulfilling customer requests isn't enough to keep your business engine revved, especially knowing how quickly things can change. For this reason, you need to consistently engage your customers through email and social media so you stay top of mind.
3. There’s both quality and quantity in the email subscribers and social media followers you’re attracting. If you’re actively engaging customers and prospects by providing relevant and fresh information on social networks and through your newsletter, as opposed to using overt sales tactics to attract new business, you already know this leads to more sales and referrals.
4. Customers are coming from even farther away. It’s always a great sign when customers regularly go out of their way to purchase your products and services. If this rings true, consider taking a poll on your Facebook page to find out where they’re coming from and what specifically attracted them. Based on the responses you get, you could present a special offer that recognizes their interests and loyalty and/or extends to their network of friends. Also, be sure to track the zip codes of your online orders and ask customers how they heard of you, as those are other great ways to gauge your reach.
5. There’s enough demand and interest to warrant hosting an event. If you’ve successfully grown your customer base and have the email evidence to prove that you consistently pique customers’ interest in your products or services, that’s the ideal time to host an event. The topic? Well, if customers or prospects are consistently asking you the same questions, think about holding a workshop to answer those questions. For example, a financial advisor could host an educational session on little-known tips to accelerate retirement savings. By freely sharing your knowledge and expertise with customers, you’ll inspire their loyalty and the likelihood that they’ll pass along what they’ve learned to their friends.
Of course, there are many other variables and metrics to consider when you’re determining if your business is ready to grow. These include revenue projections, and debt and lifestyle choices, for example. Regardless of what stage your business is in, however, it never hurts to see how your marketing efforts are aligning with your business goals.
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