We all want our businesses and brands to grow, right?
So why is it that so often we feel stuck and stalled?
There can be many reasons…
…You’ve seen early success for your brand and now you’re just not sure what you need to do to keep it growing.
…The things you used to do just aren’t working as well today.
…Your business team and infrastructure has expanded to keep up with previous growth, but now just doesn’t seem to be working as well.
It all just gets complicated, doesn’t it?
Should you be on Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? What is everyone else doing?
There are so many things that you could be doing to drive growth, you just don’t know where to start or what to do – it’s overwhelming and you just don’t have the time.
Your reaction is perfectly normal. It’s not helping at the moment, but it is perfectly normal. All brands, from a tiny start-up to the biggest multinational, experience growth stalling. Often they don’t know why, and struggle to deal with the situation as they’re just too close to the challenge and can’t see the wood for the trees.
As there are so many tools, techniques and so much conflicting information about how to grow brands these days, it’s really easy to get lost. Brands often find themselves running tactics by trial and error.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Yes, tactics change and with digital marketing it seems that every day there is a new approach that you just MUST be using (hands up if you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go?) Now, while you can make marketing extremely complicated, it’s worth remembering that it’s a practical endeavour.
No one ever grew their brand by overwhelming themselves with multiple tactics. You simply tie yourself in knots and achieve little.
You succeed by doing the things that are right for your business…but what is right for you?
Well, the great news is that it really is as simple as 1, 2, 3!
Take a step back from your business for while.
Block yourself some uninterrupted time with an empty notebook to assess where your business is, and where you want it to be.
At the most fundamental level, there are only 3 ways to grow a brand.
- Get More Customers
- Get Existing Customers To Buy More
- Raise Your Prices
Which approach is right for you depends on the challenges you’re facing.
1. Get More Customers
Where do your existing customers come from? What stops more customers from flocking to your brand? Do you need to explore new sales channels to reach more of your target market? Do you simply need to get more of your target market to know you exist? Do you need to expand the size of your target?
Often, once you have gained a significant share of a category (that you, not the consumer, have defined), growth plateaus and you focus on smaller, incremental gains. However, it’s amazing to see the opportunities that open up once you reassess the market you’re in. As an example, Mr Kipling is undeniably the brand leader in packaged cake, only really competing with private label. However, if we reassess Mr Kipling’s category as all sweet treats (from cake to confectionary and biscuits) then the brand has considerably more growth opportunity to be explored.
2. Get Existing Customers To Buy More
Is your brand a one-time purchase? How can you encourage your existing customers to purchase larger sizes, or multiple packs, more often? Are there alternative uses for your brand that you can share with your customers to increase quantity and frequency of purchase? Can you develop and launch additional products that your existing customers would be willing to purchase? New flavours, limited editions, or the same product in different formats so it can be used out of home as well as in?
Heinz wanted to grow baked beans sales by getting existing customers to buy more. How did they do this? They created a larger sized pack designed to be kept in the fridge. This unlocked two growth opportunities for them. Firstly, larger packs get used more quickly, simply because people use them more generously. More critically, consumers open their fridge far more frequently than their kitchen cupboards where tinned beans are typically stored. Simply by being more frequently visible in the fridge, Heinz managed to grow sales.
3. Raise Your Prices
Simple to understand, but not always easy to implement – Pricing is probably the most contentious growth lever.
But, when executed as part of a well thought-out strategy it can reap benefits beyond simply increasing profit. Unless your entire brand proposition is built on being the cheapest (and that is a perfectly effective strategy as easyJet have proven) then you can generally charge more than you are.
Why is that?
We typically equate cheap with poorer quality and conversely equate expensive with better quality. Is an Audi better than a Skoda? They are owned by the same parent company and typically built using the same materials. But with an Audi you’re happily paying more for the brand, and charging a premium for the brand also helps retain its exclusivity. Would Audi be as appealing if its cars were as cheap as Skoda’s?
There are many ways you can change pricing without needing to take a straight price increase. Consider what volume you sell on promotion and at what depth of discount. Is your pack size optimal? Can you use innovation to move pricing up over time as Gillette have done in razor blades?
Now of course, you can use all three approaches at once: More Customers, Increased Value from Existing Customers and Raising Prices…
But, you’ll achieve far more by focussing on one area at a time and seeing the growth it delivers, rather than charging around trying to do everything at once. You’ll also be able to see what does and doesn’t work for your brand more clearly.
After all, when growth does inevitably slow in the future, knowing which lever you should pull the hardest to get the brand growing again is more than half the battle.
Is your brand storming ahead or stalled? Do you know why and what you’re going to focus on to drive growth?