How to Grow a Business: 3 Research-Backed Insights
Our 2016 High-Growth Study uncovered practical lessons on how to grow a business in the professional services arena. Hinge’s goal is to understand what these high-growth companies do differently and share that insight with other professional services firms. We want to help our clients attract more leads and be more profitable than their organic-growth or no-growth peers.
The High-Growth Club
But what do we mean by high growth? We are talking about firms with at least 20% growth, year over year. That is impressive growth. But we also noted that 30% of these firms generated 88% of new growth revenue.
That’s a club that many of us would like to join. But if you are wondering how to grow a business at that rate, you need to take a deeper look at the research.
So let’s dig in. Here are some main takeaways from our research.
Insight #1: Focus—Develop clear differentiators and specialized targeting
On average, the fastest growing firms are far more differentiated from their competitors. They simply have more advantages that set their practice apart. But it isn’t just the quantity of these differentiators; it is the quality as well. Good differentiators may not be perfect, but they are both provable and relevant to potential clients.
The firms in the high growth club also display a strong pattern of pursuing niche or highly specialized services. In fact, high-growth firms are 75% more likely to have a highly specialized practice. It makes sense, because if you are the only firm practicing in a particular niche, you automatically set yourself apart from your competitors.
Insight #2: Metrics—Track the success of marketing and business development efforts
High-growth firms track a much wider group of metrics that cover the majority of their marketing pipeline. In fact, they use 33% more metrics than typically used by professional services firms to
measure effectiveness and to justify the expenditure of marketing.
- Brand awareness
- Website traffic
- Social media engagement
- Lead generation
- Conversion rate
In addition to measuring key metrics, these firms also use more research and analysis to understand the nuances of their target markets and fine-tune their marketing programs.
This approach logically drives these firms to prioritize and get the most bang for each buck. They don’t necessarily choose the easiest techniques, nor do they focus on techniques that have the greatest overall effect. Instead they rely on marketing techniques that produce the greatest effect for the level of effort required. (Read more about which techniques were most favored in the full research study summary.)
Insight #3: Balance—Connect online and offline marketing efforts
Thanks to the focus and specialization of firms in the high-growth club, as well as the careful measurement and optimization of their marketing efforts, the fastest growing firms experienced stronger results from both traditional and digital techniques. Here are a few highlights on the proportions we saw:
- 23% LESS effort spent on traditional marketing
- 13% MORE effort spent on digital marketing
- 11% MORE impact—overall.
Clearly, these firms are connecting traditional and digital techniques with a favorable balance.
Though high-growth firms spend less effort on traditional marketing techniques overall, there are two techniques that are used more often by high-growth firms than their more pedestrian peers.
- Phone marketing
- Direct mail
What do these two techniques have in common? They are highly targeted, and can be tracked with metrics and analysis. Other traditional techniques were identified as themes, but these were two that stood out in terms of level of effort.
Looking at digital marketing techniques paints a slightly different picture. High-growth firms use more of every digital technique, with the exception of email marketing (still a solid effort, but a less in comparison). Here are the top five digital marketing techniques used by faster growing firms:
- Marketing video
- Guest blogging
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media
So if you are (like so many of us) looking for insights into how to grow your business in a professional services arena, consider these lessons from the cream of the crop.
- Focus. Clarify provable and relevant differentiators and specialize your practice wherever possible
- Metrics. Your efforts should be accountable. Focus on key metrics, research and analysis will allow you to adjust your efforts and level of effort in the most effective (and profitable) manner.
- Balance. Connect the dots and balance your level of effort between online and offline marketing techniques.
I’ve only addressed the tip of a very interesting and insightful iceberg with this post. I encourage you to download the full report summary for some more insights that may help you get the most from your marketing efforts and grow your business. Become a part of a the high-growth club.
- Read about the most effective online marketing strategies for generating leads Online Marketing for Professional Services
- Get a copy of our free Marketing Planning Guide to develop a strategy that generates more leads for your firm by building its visibility and reputation in the marketplace.
- Discover what combination of tools and techniques—online and offline—produce greater visibility, expanded reach, more leads, and higher revenues in the Visible Expert® course through Hinge University.
How Hinge Can Help:
Hinge is a global leader in helping professional services firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be implemented. In fact, our groundbreaking Visible Firm® program combines strategy, implementation, training and more.
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