I get asked all the time by clients and associates, how can I get more people coming in the door without spending a fortune on marketing? How can I build awareness ‘organically’?
Certainly for small businesses, marketing budgets are tight, which makes an organic growth plan much more attractive, however, it is also the hardest to cultivate.
Here are a few steps to take to help your organic growth strategy take off:
Take a Look in the Mirror.
The first step when building towards organic growth is to take a close look at your corporate culture. Do you have corporate values to use as an ethical and professional benchmark? Are you living up to them with every client interaction? If the answer is no to either of these questions, it makes sense to first get very clear on your company’s values and guiding principles to make sure you are consistently providing a product or service worth talking about. Word of mouth can be a very powerful tool for your business, however, by the same token, it can have a devastating effect if something goes wrong.
Get Really Clear on who you are Serving.
Take a look at your existing client base and then take a look at who you are targeting with your current messaging and positioning. If the two are not in alignment, then either your offerings have to change or your marketing approach has to change. When a business experiences organic growth, it is typically within a similar demographic to that they are currently serving. So if you have an existing client base that doesn’t match who you are targeting with your message, it may be time to step back and develop your ideal buyer persona. This type of exercise will help you to develop a better understanding of who your target audience is and then you will have a better chance of effectively reaching it.
Share the Love.
Word of mouth may be the strongest organic growth influencer there is, but alone it doesn’t always drive conversion. An effective way to seal the deal is to initiate a referral program. A great referral program not only rewards the new client, but also rewards the referring client for their loyalty and endorsement. It becomes easy for your clients to bring you up in conversation and when a need arises that your company can solve, it is much more likely that your product or services will be recommended. If a referral program isn’t the right thing for your business, consider loyalty gifts or client recognition programs instead.
Be a Content King.
Social media has changed the face of marketing and exposure. To gain organic growth via social media you have to offer content that is important to your target audience. Important meaning that they have some type of emotional attachment to it. Be authentic, be relatable, offer something new and engage with your audience. Encourage interaction and be quick to respond and create conversation. Posts should be relevant to your target demographic (revisit your buyer persona if necessary), be in alignment with your corporate values, topical and SEO optimized for driving organic traffic.
Remember that Consistency is Queen.
Once you’ve established your values and buyer persona, stick with them. Every decision should be in alignment with your values and relevant to your persona, if you are considering a message or promotion that doesn’t, start over. Consistency in your branding, your corporate culture, social media, positioning and your offering is important to build loyalty, which in turn builds endorsement and eventually, organic exposure. To ensure a consistent schedule, set up a content calendar, however, rather than ‘set it and forget it’, be careful to measure the success of each post and use those analytics to continuously adjust your content for maximum engagement.
Organic growth takes TIME. The best things always do. Stay the course, stay consistent in your interactions and offerings and continue to produce authentic content and the rest should slowly – but surely – fall into place.
Alix Robinson is a Halifax-based graphic designer, branding specialist and owner of Every day I’m Branding Virtual Marketing Management.