21/11/2014

By Anna Morrish, Marketing Executive, DMCSoftware.co.uk

Businesses are constantly striving to achieve sustainable growth, but why? In this article I explore what sustainable growth is and why businesses strive to achieve it…

What is it?
Sustainable growth refers to a continual and realistic business growth structure that is maintainable without requiring additional resource or running into problems. Striking a balance can be tough. Businesses that grow too quickly can struggle to fund growth and find they are unable to meet their customer’s demands due to lack of resource. On the other hand, businesses that are slow to adapt and implement new strategies, which reflect customer needs often struggle to attract or retain customers, resulting in a lack growth.

Satisfaction in Key
Customer satisfaction is key to achieving sustainable growth. This statement is supported by Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service who said, “Organisations that deliver sustained, long-term success are those with a strategic leadership commitment to customer service across the whole customer experience. As the economy moves into growth, there is a temptation to prioritise a short-term boost in customer numbers; but the evidence from UKCSI demonstrates that only a consistent focus on the customer experience will enable organisations to adapt to changing customer expectations and achieve sustainable success.” This is something we illustrated in our latest infographic, which you can see here.

Steps to success 
In my previous post on Fresh Business Thinking I explained that it can cost up to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one, Therefore, customer satisfaction and in turn retention lends itself to sustainable growth, which is why it is so important for businesses to gage customer satisfaction.

Monitoring customer feedback and using the findings to guide business strategies and goals is extremely effective. To help, there are a variety of innovative tools that enable you to record this data and turn it into actionable insight, including customer relationship management software (CRM). 
 
To succeed follow these steps:

1. Define your unique selling points (USPs) that set your business apart from your competitors. Do this by communicating the benefits of your product or service that are unique to you, this can be anything from quality, cost or innovation. To do this, think about how you would answer the primary question customers will ask, “what’s in it for me?”
2. Identify your target market and build a business community around this. For tips on how to identify your buyer personas and find your target market through social media channels, read this blog post. Engage and nurture those within your community in order to turn leads in to customers.
3. Communicate your offering to your target market using a combination of direct, email and online marketing, advertising, promotions, events and PR. In conjunction with your communications, it is important to track responses and measure success in order to replicate successful marketing campaigns. This too can be done using an integrated CRM Solution.
4. Utilise data available to you, this might be data from within the industry, your own client base or your business community. By analysing data and observing trends it is possible to develop your products or services to reflect what the customers want.
5. Adopt a flexible and agile business structure in order to be responsive to changes in the market and customers’ demands. With increased agility it is possible to implement changes quickly ahead of the competition.

Jayne Archbold, Director of Strategy & Corporate Communications at Sage recently said, “As businesses move from the ‘S’ to the ‘M’ of SME they slowly change the way they operate – and if they don’t, they can run into ‘growing pains’ that can steal focus from where it’s needed.” Sustainability takes preparation, intelligence and continual maintenance, which requires a business to be flexible. Businesses must have the resource, tools and practices in place in order to stay flexible as they grow. This way, they can overcome set-backs and sustain growth by implementing new strategies and rapidly increasing output.

Set achievable business goals and you will succeed. This is not a new concept or idea, as the infamous philosopher Aristotle once said:
“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”