Where has your target market gone? How SMEs can roll with the changes to develop a business growth strategy with impact

When your firm wants to grow worldwide, you'll be advised to form an international corporation. What does it entail, and more importantly, how would a foreign legal entity influence your business?

For businesses looking to scale successfully, a growth strategy detailing how to overcome current and future challenges is essential.

What might have worked well in the past has now been complicated by a rapid change in the way that we consume content, who we trust and how we live our lives. As the business landscape moves on in 2024, companies need to keep up with the industry and the latest tactics to see themselves grow.

What does a growth strategy look like?

Under the current business climate, a growth strategy for every stage of your business is more important than ever. Your growth strategy is a decision on where you plan to focus your business efforts to bring in greater profit in 2024. That could be:

·       More customers – expanding your target market;

·       Sales – selling more product/services to your existing customer base;

·       Improving products or processes;

·       Putting up your prices for existing products;

·       Improving your revenue or profit margin – supplying the same products or service at lower costs to you.

A well-constructed growth strategy will usually include a combination of the above and can help your business expand sustainably or overcome the financial impact of a changed business landscape. Aspects could include market expansion, developing services and new technology innovations.

Where is my target market engaging?

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. The business development landscape has changed rapidly in the past couple of years. The pandemic sped up the trend to work from home some or all of the time, which also impacted how customers interact with businesses. Home delivery and online marketing has replaced many physical interactions with customers.

The pandemic also contributed to the change in the sources of information that people trust. The number of people that previously had a high level of trust in broadcast and print media has plummeted with just 37% of people trusting the media now. More trust is placed in social media platforms – with many businesses now having a TikTok presence – and podcasts. Trade and business press have also turned to online-only delivery.

How to create impact with your growth strategy

PR is one of the fastest ways to drive business growth and increase market penetration. A good PR agency will have strategies to get to hard-to-reach audiences through non-traditional routes such as working with influencers and vloggers, creating video content to gain traction on social media sites, or securing your company CEO a guest speaker slot on a trending podcast.

It’s vital to develop a process to align your PR strategy with your growth strategy. For example, if you’re trying to bring in more customers from new demographics, your PR campaigns should focus on building your credibility in the places these demographics hang out – whether that’s on the business pages of the FT or with the influencers on YouTube Shorts. By adapting content and processes to work across a number of channels, PR can ensure your messaging remains clear and measure whether you’re hitting your development goals.

Employees are your best brand ambassadors

Your most important audience is not your customer base, but your employees. Keeping them upskilled and motivated means you have a crowd of brand ambassadors promoting your company whenever they leave the premises. It’s all part of building a positive employer brand.

Company costs to develop employees, such as increasing their knowledge of new technology, can be a sound financial investment for the future. Whether staff feel valued can determine the success or failure of your company.

If you do one thing this year

If your business isn’t trying out how AI and business function automation can make you more efficient, you’re already behind the curve. We’ve had well over a year to get to grips with large language models (LLMs) and systems such as ChatGPT and, when used well, applications for businesses are varied. As well as content creation, AI can be used by companies for working out how marketing and PR campaigns will be received by your target audience. It can also point out questions people will ask about new products or services, manage diaries of your sales people, assist with visualisation and analysis of sales data, conduct business impact analysis of PR campaigns, and automate certain customer interactions.

AI can’t replace the humans in your business, but it can save them time, freeing them up to do more strategic tasks and focus on growth. However, it’s a mistake to think your employees will get the most out of AI resources without any training in how to structure an AI prompt or how to tweak results to get from 80% success to 100%. Investing now in upskilling colleagues to use AI systems to reduce resource requirements and manipulate data can contribute to business growth.

Do more of what works

Setting clear objectives and an actionable plan means you can measure the impact of your growth strategy: have you increased market share or penetrated a new market, added a business function or begun production of a new product line or service?

To maintain a rapid growth stage, it’s vital to carry out a business impact analysis of your growth strategy regularly to continually improve your critical business processes to adapt to each disruptive event (general election, anyone?) and industry pressure that occurs in 2024.

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Where has your target market gone? How SMEs can roll with the changes to develop a business growth strategy with impact