What is the difference between high-growth and low-growth or no-growth businesses? In many cases, it comes down to differences in tactics, particularly marketing tactics. Here are 10 highly effective marketing tactics used by high-growth businesses.
In a recent 2017 High Growth Study by Hinge Research Institute, high growth businesses revealed that they invested 43% more effort towards marketing and saw 74% more impact than their low growth counterparts.
The study involved a sample of over 500 firms with a combined annual turnover of $87 billion from across the globe, covering industries as diverse as legal, technology, accounting, healthcare and marketing.
Small business (with a revenue from $1 - $4.9 million) represented 43% of the respondents and showed the highest growth of almost 60%, followed by mid-size organisations $($5 - $49 million) showing 30% growth and large companies ($50 million or greater) at 13.5%. So just how did they do it? Their strategy centred around just 10 effective marketing techniques.
High Growth Strategy 1 – Partnership Marketing
Leveraging on strategic partnerships, 33% of high growth organisations rated highly partnership marketing as an effective way to build a business, boost brand awareness and enter new markets. The success of one brand brings success to its partner brand, too. But value perceptions, target audiences and promotion channels need to align to make it a true ‘win win’ experience.
Some great examples of partnership marketing include Spotify and Uber, where you are welcomed by your favourite playlist when you travel in an Uber car, and BMW i8 and Louis Vuitton’s specially designed luggage.
High Growth Strategy 2 – Downloadable Educational Content
Whilst their no-growth counterparts avoided the option to share gated content, 24.4% of high growth companies gave a rating of 9 or 10 for this marketing technique. A DemandGen report found that 76% of B2B buyers prefer to receive content unique to their buying stage and
95% prefer brands that provide content throughout the buying process. The methodology known as ‘inbound marketing’ delivers content that is targeted to a buyer persona at three key points of their buyer journey. The awareness stage, consideration stage and the decision stage. Downloadable content in the form of e-books or guides are provided in exchange for some information about the buyer, like a name or email address.
High Growth Strategy 3 – Speaking Engagements
Thought leadership is paramount in lifting and maintaining a brand’s relevance. 24.3% of high-growth leaders find avenues to share their expertise and increase their reach through speaking engagements, as opposed to just 7.1% if their no-growth counterparts. In a survey of Visible Experts®, speaking engagements generated almost as many leads as referrals and was rated as the second most impactful marketing tool, 7.8% just under having your own book.
High Growth Strategy 4 – Phone Marketing
Although ‘cold calling’ is fast becoming a less effective tactic for marketing professionals, adopting an ‘inbound’ approach to telemarketing is proven successful for businesses large and small. An Inbound Sales strategy is the process of focusing on individual buyers and their personal needs, points of pain, frustrations and goals ahead of trying to push for attention, promote a company or sell a service. It is essential that the buyer's needs are prioritized before your own.
The strategy follows a four step process – Identify, Connect, Explore and Advise. The Inbound Sales Methodology covers every step of the buyer’s journey - from a stranger to a customer. It acknowledges that Inbound Sales don’t just happen - you do it. And, you do it using tools that help you personalise the sales process to appeal to precisely the right leads, in the right places, at just the right time in their buying journey.
High Growth Strategy 5 – Webinars and Other Educational Events
We thrive and survive in the digital ecosystem and thanks to the convenience of the internet we often omit the need for direct human contact. Marketing Charts report that now 83% of B2B marketers are heavily invested in events in a drive to bring back real human connection into the marketing mix driving a new term called B2H – Business to Human. In today’s buyer journey, up to 80% of which is completed online without any direct contact with a business, a good touch point at the ‘bottom of the funnel’ is an event. 19.4% of high-growth firms put this as a priority in their marketing spend and agree it’s one of the best tactics for marketing impact.
High Growth Strategy 6 – Website
With under 8 seconds to make a compelling reason to stay before the majority of visitors leave, your website has to do so much more than just tell your story. High-growth firms focus on solving particular challenges and offering specialised services – in fact 40% fewer services than their no-growth competitors.
High-growth firms were nearly three times more likely to reference their use of technology and twice as likely to use their marketing/business development approach as differentiators when compared with no-growth firms. They were also three times less likely to reference their history as a point of difference.
They also frequently research their target audience, at least quarterly to understand them and be able to offer a website with content that’s relevant. With 67% of the buyer's journey is now completed digitally (Sirus Decisions) having an effective and engaging online presence is vital. Your website should also cater for the full funnel of prospects, from top to bottom and deliver fresh, valuable content across the whole buying experience. ActOn predicts that a B2B prospect's journey nowadays can last from three months to longer than a year.
High Growth Strategy 7 – Attending Conferences, Trade Shows and Events
Going back to our earlier discussion around B2H – Business To Human marketing, Trade shows, although a somewhat old-school marketing tactic are still effective today. According to a research by the Center of Exhibition Industry Research, 88% of the attendees in a trade show usually visit the company for the first time.
Therefore, a company can make a good impression that will help in converting potential buyers into real customers. Trade shows and expos also put you under the same roof as your competitors so you can see how they pitch and get a real insight into their marketing strategy. 17.1% of high-growth organisations place a high importance on this tactic as opposed to just 9.7% of companies showing no growth.
High Growth Strategy 8 – Online Advertising
There’s a big market out there. We Are Social say there are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. To grow your reach as a brand you need to tap into the ‘social watering holes’ your target market frequents. We already know that the majority of the buyer journey takes place online so it makes sense to have a strong presence when it comes to Google Search, either through smart SEO or Pay-Per Click. In fact, 64.6% of people say that they click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online. (WordStream, 2016). 15.4% of high-growth businesses place online advertising as a priority for achieving the greatest marketing impact compared with 0% of those with no-growth.
High Growth Strategy 9 – Email Marketing
Email is certainly not dead or in decline, email use worldwide will top 3 billion users by 2020 according to The Radicati Group. Personalisation is key to greater email engagement – talking to an audience of one instead of many always achieves better open rates and click throughs (plus, did you know that email marketing can be used for SEO?).Marketing automation software - HubSpot offer a free course on effective email marketing from their Academy - combines lifecycle marketing, segmentation, email design, deliverability, analytics and optimisation into one inbound email strategy. 13.4% of high growth companies see email marketing as a key for delivering impact and as such 28.6% say they make a significant investment in this tactic.
High Growth Strategy 10 – Blogging
Content is still king in 2017 and business blogging is steadily on the rise. Companies with a blog
receive more leads than those that don't and blogging has tremendous SEO benefits with organic search attracting high-quality leads. Some of the trends emerging include longer form blog content which tends to perform better in search engines, visual content like graphics, charts and photos and paid increase in paid promotion/distribution for blog content. Producing engaging content however is still a challenge for the majority (60%) of B2B marketers.
So following the ‘secret marketing tactics of high-growth firms’ is a start, but measuring the effectiveness of a marketing investment is where the firms surveyed went one step further.
High-growth firms on average used 22% more metrics to measure their marketing success and focused on key performance indicators like leads generated, web traffic, web conversions, brand awareness and social media engagement.
Using a healthy mix of both traditional and digital practices using metrics to track success are the key takeaways for why high-growth firms not only enjoy rapid growth, but were also twice as profitable as their no-growth counterparts.