Whether it’s a natural reaction to spring, a slight surge of cautious optimism, or if you’ve been plotting out your plans to build your small business for months now, growth and expansion are on the radar for many small businesses.
According to inc.com, one of the best ways to grow your business is one of the most overlooked, by expanding your reach into new markets.
Just as you’d expect, you need to begin with some market research, and that can start with your existing customers. Tools like social media can help you deliver products and services to new markets. It’s important to be sure to include word of mouth marketing in your business expansion strategy. To begin harnessing the real power of word of mouth, be sure you are talking with your customers on a regular basis. Many, if not most, will be happy to recommend prospects to you. Of these referrals, at least some should fall outside your normal marketing channels and boundaries. You’ll still need to conduct thorough research and/or due diligence on these new opportunities. Remember that talking to customers is something you be doing on a regular basis, regardless of your intentions to grow your business.
Other ways to expand your markets may include bundling products and services and entering into joint ventures with other companies.
Ian Lurie, founder and of Portent Inc., an Internet marketing agency that provides digital marketing services, writes on marketingprofs.com about how an intriguing technique in Expand Your Market and Audience: Use the ‘Idea Graph.‘ He begins by describing a classic “universe” problem that transcends business types and sizes: You may have built a receptive, high-conversion audience but can’t manage to increase its size. Common sense says that if you can’t expand your universe beyond its current population of everyone you already know you can sell to, your business will stagnate.
Lurie says that social media offers one of the best opportunities to identify and excavate your dormant audience(s) by building an Idea Graph. The key to Lurie’s Idea Graph concept is to first find the “random affinities,” or relationships between entities that appear to be unrelated.
Nevada Small Business (nevadasmallbusiness.com) offers a variety of reasons businesses may want to expand into new markets: Leveraging current success, enjoying economies of scale, growing revenues and products, reducing overall risk and creating a more stable business model.
But once you’ve identified why you want to move into new markets, the next question is, Should you? Even if your answer is an unqualified “yes,” take a step back and reflect before rushing into the unknown. Be very specific about infrastructure or processes you already have in place that can be expanded and what new things you may need to build or establish. Grow Your Business: New Markets offers some excellent tips on two very different paths for taking your business into new markets: Geographic expansion and customer expansion. Click here to read the full article.
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