Lesson 5 of 5 free five-minute videos for busy entrepreneurs: 5 hard learned lessons on building a “growth engine” for your company. If you got here from an email or a tweet, click here to grab the complete series.
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Why do you think some companies are more successful than others?
Often, because they do things differently than most of their competitors.
If all you do to get new customers is what everyone else is doing, your growth will likely be painstakingly slow.
Today I want you to get creative. You can leverage what you have and what you are naturally good at to create new streams of business for your company, or boost the existing ones.
A first thing to realize is how small improvements in your growth engine can have a big impact on your bottom line. Remember the example of the growth engine from Day 4? Imagine we make small improvements in 4 conversion rates: increase activation from 20 to 22%, nurturing from 60 to 63%, and the two activation steps from 15 to 17 and 80 to 85% respectively.
Here comes the cool part. The compounded effect of these changes will be a total of almost 40% improvement in bottom line sales!
Making such small improvements over time should certainly be possible, right?
Here is how successful companies do that.
A first step is to look at the metrics of your growth engine and decide where to focus on. For example, we built a growth engine for real estate agents in Belgium. After the leads started flowing in, we saw two possibilities for improvement:
- Improve the conversion rate of capture (our landing page). This would have a direct impact on getting more out of what we spend on Google AdWords
- Improve Google rating of our blog. After some analysis we established that our blog – although SEO optimized – has a very few links and it therefore scores bad in Google
Second, you need to look at your own strengths – and think creatively about how to leverage what you have. Continuing our real estate example, we realized that we can easily get relevant geographic data about Belgian municipalities from Wikipedia, and free government stats on real estate.
Here is what we did:
- We have written a simple script that generates super-targeted Google AdWords. If anyone looks for a real estate agent in any Belgian village or town, we serve them a very targeted ad. For example, “47 real estate agents found in and around your town, compare them now”. We have then generated a series of more than 500 targeted landing pages, If the prospect clicks on a the Google AdWord, they end up on the right page with specific information for their municipality. This almost doubled our conversion rate!
- To solve the problem of links, we started from the government data published as a large Excel file. We wrote a web application that generates more than 500 beautiful price guide infographics for each Belgian municipality. Next, we have reached out to website administrators of individual municipalities and asked them to link to these infographics.
Even if you don’t have technical knowledge to do this, with some creativity and strategic thinking, you can leverage what you have. Another example is a growth engine we built in the innovation sector:
- There, we have written and published an article. At first, the article was doing okay, but not great.
- Then, we spent an hour on keyword research and reworking the headline to include popular search terms, and to make it more “sharable” on social networks. As a result, the article started bringing more than 3000 visits via Google per month, and more than 800 people have recommended it to their friends and colleagues on social networks.
- Next, we turned the article into a SlideShare slide deck, using a free beautiful template. This brought in another 4000+ views.
- In the presentation itself, we have also embedded a call to signup to our “free bribe”, a 10-step email course for business development. A similar call is embedded next to the article.
- This brings in a steady stream of leads, without us having to do any work.
- Then, we purchased the SlideShare Pro version, which allowed us to create a lead generation form – calling anyone viewing the slides to sign up for a free bribe. The result: 30 leads in 2 days (30 is actually a maximum provided in the pricing plan we chose).
- Finally, the same article is used as one of the steps in the nurturing process, which drives engagement and new visits and shares.
The lesson here? We could have just published the article and forgotten about it. But instead, we have taken a couple of extra steps, leveraged what we have, and got so much more out of that one single article.
Other lessons from today
- Use your metrics as a management tool to decide where to focus. Remember: small changes can have big impact
- Leverage your strengths and brainstorm ideas to improve your growth engine, based on what you have or can easily get
- Adopt the mindset of experimentation. You are not your customer, and you simply cannot know upfront which of the improvements will work. Instead, try to carry out as many rapid experiments as you can until you find one that works
- Once you find one that works, stay with it, and milk it for all it’s worth!
In fact, you can start planning your ongoing activities as a series of growth experiments. We organize a planning meeting every other week, with the following agenda:
- Look at the results of previous weeks’ experiments and the latest metrics
- Decide which experiments to continue, and which to drop
- Brainstorm ideas for new experiments to run to further improve the figures
- Prioritize and plan the experiments for next week
One last word of warning: do not underestimate the time it takes to set up an experiment. You cannot call one experiment a failure just because you didn’t do it right. How many times have I seen a failed blogging attempt or money thrown at an unoptimized Google AdWord campaign.
To be truly successful, you will need to build or acquire a number of skills, like copywriting, web design, and basically any technical capability to do whatever it takes to grow your business. If you don’t have the affinity or time to build these skills, you should consider hiring people who do.
This concludes our short course on a smart ways to grow your small business. If you have any questions, or you want to know more, don’t hesitate to reach out. Just shoot us an email to [email protected] or [email protected] or give me a call at +32 471 40 15 35.
And yeah, watch out for a bonus video we’ll be sending.
Be well. Bye.