Every business needs to grow; if you’re not growing, you’re standing still, and that’s the first step of a downward spiral that ends with you going out of business.

But growing doesn’t have to mean aiming for world domination. If you operate a lifestyle business, like me, growth is about finding new opportunities and engaging with new clients to replace the projects that have finished.

Which brings me nicely to the first question you need to ask yourself…

What are you looking to achieve?

If you’re running a lifestyle business, this might be as simple as securing 1-2 new clients. But if you’re looking to scale your business, this could be a percentage increase in business growth.

Once you’ve determined what ‘success’ looks like, it’s time to ask…

Who is your ideal customer?

Consider who exactly you’re trying to reach. For example:

  • What is the size of the organisation?
  • If it’s a large, multi-site business, do you need the head office? Or are you looking to engage the satellite offices? Or both?
  • Where is it located?
  • What is the job of the person you need to talk to?
  • What do they care about?
  • …etc

Then think about what your company does, and how you’re going to provide value to these people…

What are you offering?

It might be that you’re looking to grow your business very strategically; perhaps you’re launching a new product/service, or improving an existing one, and you need to find some new customers to sell it to.

Or, it might be that you’re looking for organic growth within your current offering. In which case, think about whether there are any specific products/services you want to ‘push’ within the market more than others. Perhaps because they’re more profitable, fit your target customer better, or it’s personal preference and there are just some things you love doing more than others.

Whatever the reason, once you’ve identified the products/services, you can start to work on the value proposition – i.e. the one thing you do better than anyone else – the differentiators that set it apart in the market place, and the emotional selling points that are going to hook people in and make them feel that you really understand them.

Once we have a really good idea of who you’re looking to target, and what you want to target them with, it’s time to get down to business…

Time for a little fun

The good news is, that once you’ve answered the above questions, the plan pretty much writes itself.

If you know what you’re looking to achieve, you can determine the volume of promotion you need to commence, and then the effort/resource required to achieve it…

For example:

If I’m looking to secure one new client, I’m going to need to dedicate about an hour a week trying to get on their radar, meeting them and getting to know them. But if you’re looking to grow a £5m turnover business by 10% this year, you’ll need to create a pipeline with 3x coverage to ensure you hit your objective by year-end – and that’s going to require at least one marketing professional working full-time with a budget in the £’00,000s.

If you know who you’re looking to target, you know exactly how to reach them and get yourself in front of them…

For example:

If I’m looking to engage someone like you, I’m going to write content that speaks to the questions currently on your mind, and then make sure they’re optimised for SEO so you find me when you’re Googling. But if you’re looking to engage people in the C-suite, you might need to identify specific events they attend, trade publications they read, or create a targeted LinkedIn strategy to get in their feed on a daily basis with valuable insight.

And if you know the products/services you’re looking to push, you can craft a proposition that’s going to really ‘sell’ it to the audience…

For example:

I ‘sell’ the idea of block booking, because I know that when people create content as part of a wider campaign, containing multiple elements, if delivers better results. Block booking is beneficial to me, because I know what work I have on during the month and can schedule better. And as a thank you to my clients, I offer a 10% discount. For you, the proposition might involve trials, proof-of-concepts, assessments, ROI calculators, training…

Getting started…

I’ve previously shared two templates to help the freelance community with their business and marketing planning – but the principles apply to any organisation.

Take a look and start thinking about what your growth could look like…

And then if you need any help…


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash