July 15, 2021
President & CEO, Melwood
Senior Economist and Data Scientist, Glassdoor
Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, CO—
In an ever-changing business landscape, scaling operations in a healthy way is a primary goal (and challenge) for many small businesses. Especially in a post-pandemic world, entrepreneurs must keep current on the latest technology and utilize best practices to attract and retain customers.
If you’re looking to scale your small business, here are four expert tips on how to do so sustainably from a recent CO— Roadmap to Rebuilding panel.
Leverage Technology and Know Your Audience to Expand Your Reach
Michelle Aragon, vice president of brand marketing and strategy at Spectrum Reach, encouraged business owners to leverage technology to stand out from their competitors.
“As technology advances, consumption shifts,” Aragon explained. “Customers have new places to access content … [so] businesses need to think about new ways to connect with audiences.”
Beyond using technology, Aragon recommended that entrepreneurs first get an understanding of their audience, and then work on creating awareness, interest, and engaging content.
“Once you know who your customers are, it’s easier to find more of those customers in your marketing tactics,” said Aragon. “[Create] valuable content [for] both new and existing customers … [that] makes their own personal and professional lives easier. Then… focus on ensuring that they can find your content through your SEO strategies [and] your social media.”
Invest in Available Tools to Develop a Differentiated Marketing Strategy
Investing in available technological tools can help businesses differentiate their marketing strategy. Justin Croxton, CEO and managing partner at Propellant Media, credits much of his company’s growth to tools such as targeted marketing and automation software.
“We focused a lot on geofencing marketing,” explained Croxton. “Geofencing gives you the ability to serve ads to people in very precise areas — I mean all the way down to the contours of a building.”
His company also invested in online sales and marketing automation software to streamline its processes. Croxton’s company uses Hubspot not only for customer relationship management (CRM), but for other features such as email marketing, chatbots, and pop-ups for downloads.
“If you think about all the money that you’re putting into advertising and to brand-building … the investment that you make in conversion rate optimization automatically reduces your cost for customer acquisition,” Croxton stressed.
Visibility, Efficiency, and Automation Are Key to Successful Technological Implementation
When using technology to scale, businesses should focus on three factors: visibility, efficiency, and automation, according to Thomas Sutter of the Finance Centre for Excellence at Oracle NetSuite.
“The entire business needs the visibility and control of what’s going on,” Sutter advised. “Once you have that, [ask yourself] how efficient are you at looking at … that detailed information [or] at putting more information into your systems to get better visibility?”
Though Sutter championed the use of automation, he noted that “even when you’re scaling, you don’t have to have everything … be automated.”
Instead, he encouraged business owners to automate standard processes, and then manage by exception.
Understand Your Finances and Your Team to Ensure Sustainable Scaling
When scaling, small businesses must be cautious about doing so too quickly — otherwise, that growth might not be sustainable in the long run. To avoid this fate, Okabashi Brands CEO Sara Irvani encouraged entrepreneurs to keep two things in mind: their finances and their team.
“Make sure that you are financially responsible and you know what getting to the next level means in terms of financial commitment,” Irvani said, adding that business owners could turn to mentors or partners for insights on managing money.
After considering the financial aspects, Irvani stressed the importance of understanding your team.
“Automate the processes that you can [and] bring in more technology so that you can scale with [your team],” she advised. “But make sure that you’re doing pulse checks [to] make sure that everyone is emotionally there, that morale is high, and [that] growth is exciting.”
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