Whether you just started a business or you’ve been established for a while, growth is probably a top priority. Some small business owners struggle with the strategy aspect of putting together big-picture expansion plans. Others may find the tactics piece more difficult. Regardless of which camp you occupy (or neither), you have to find ways to best execute your growth strategy.
Various platforms and tools related to social media, customer relationship management, content marketing, and sales crowd the marketplace. It can be challenging to sort out which ones can help you accomplish your goals, but fortunately it’s not impossible. Below are some of the platforms every business owner should consider to meet their growth objectives.
Businesses that sell products to other companies to reach end consumers are common in the retail industry. Companies or owners often rely on trade shows and sales teams to connect with others. For instance, a food manufacturer might employ business account executives to call on retailers. Account executives and the stores that agree to carry the brand’s products also negotiate sale terms. This can include things like in-store product placement and ordering frequency.
Although these methods can produce results, they can be inefficient in terms of cost and time. Trade shows are usually crowded, making it difficult for all brands and retailers to connect. These shows are also seasonal in nature, and the audience is limited to those who can attend. A direct sales team might reach retailers that can’t go to trade shows, but that reach is usually narrow. Sales teams also incur overhead related to salaries, benefits, and travel expenses.
Wholesale platforms, particularly in the apparel industry, can help brands and retailers connect more efficiently. With wholesale apparel platforms, both can participate in a virtual marketplace. Apparel manufacturers can gain access to a network of retailers, increasing the visibility of their products. Retailers can boost their sales by getting more unique brands in front of more potential customers year-round.
Sophisticated selling and analytics tools are also built into wholesale platforms. Clothing manufacturers and stores can gain enhanced insight into which items are performing well. This includes specific markets or locations. Retailers can adjust merchandising tactics and product mixes in real time, while manufacturers and designers can develop in-demand items. Some platforms also reduce inventory and online shopping risks with free returns and extended payment terms.
Social Media Platforms
Of course you know that social media like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn exist. What’s not so simple is figuring out which platforms are best for growing your business and how to leverage them. While all businesses have to experiment with posts and tactics to find their way, planning can help you pull ahead. Come up with a set of attainable goals you can measure, and then research your competition. Look at their posts to find out what they’re doing on social media.
You can use social listening techniques and tools like HubSpot or Hootsuite to see how your target market is responding to the competition and trends. These techniques and tools can also help you discover which platforms your ideal customer base uses. You’ll learn how other brands respond to and engage with audiences. And you may find some examples and ideas to help you start creating a social media or editorial calendar.
Although you don’t want to fully replicate someone else’s ideas, there might be a few nuggets to expand upon. Your company may have something to add to the discussion, or you could take the topic in a different direction. Examining competitors’ posts and content can often serve as a means of inspiration or a way to augment existing ideas.
It also helps to conduct some third-party research about which audiences use certain platforms. You might find that some of the data is surprising. For instance, companies that want to target a younger audience might think that Facebook isn’t a viable platform. However, gut reactions aren’t always 100% correct and may miss critical insights. Data on Facebook reveals that younger generations use the platform, with its second-largest audience segment being males aged 18 to 24.
Content and CRM Platforms
Ever performed a Google search for information and came across a blog article or e-book to download? Most likely, the article gave you the guidance you were looking for and introduced you to a potential solution.
You might not have purchased the mentioned solution right away, but you started to think about it. It’s possible you bookmarked the company or service provider and checked out some of the other information on their website. You either filed the name of the company in the back of your mind or went back and bought something.
This is how content marketing helps capture leads and broaden a company’s reach. It also nurtures relationships with prospects and existing customers by providing them with useful and engaging information. Blog articles, white papers, videos, e-books, and infographics are all examples of content marketing. So are email newsletters sent to organic lists of leads and customers.
Content and customer relationship management platforms give businesses a way to create, post, and manage their digital outreach. Within these applications, you can track leads captured on your website through gated content. This can include opt-ins to email newsletters, a notification list about upcoming promotions, how-to guides, and industry reports.
CRM platforms take that information and let you set up and segment email lists, design or import email templates, and test different campaigns. You’ll learn what subject lines, images, and topics work with your audience. CRM platforms measure and track these insights, in addition to key performance indicators like organic traffic and email open rates.
Finding ways to grow your business can be tough, especially if you’re the new kid on the block. But successful marketing and sales growth don’t have to be limited to conventional approaches. By considering novel tactics and online platforms, you’ll find ways to branch out and reach more potential clients. Digital wholesale marketplaces, smart and measurable social media experimentation, and online engagement via content can help your expansion strategy succeed.