If you’ve spent any time in the business world, you’ll know that it’s rare for a startup to achieve immediate success. Even the best business ideas and most promising startups take time to cultivate and grow into a successful, thriving enterprise. Because of this, it’s incredibly important for business owners to follow a business development strategy to continue to grow year over year.
What is a business development plan?
A business growth plan is like a roadmap that helps a company plan their path to success. It also gives them a benchmark to measure their performance against.
Effective development strategies consider changing technologies, consumer trends and marketing tactics, and use these factors to set challenging performance goals.
Creating your business development strategy
Your business growth strategy doesn’t have to be complex. Use these tips to create one for your business.
- Review the past to plan your future.
- Define success.
- Pinpoint your target customer.
- Set challenging yet achievable goals.
- Choose your marketing tools.
Ready to grow? Let’s get to it.
1. Review the past to plan your future
Oftentimes, one of the most effective ways to plan for your future is to look back at your past and the experience you’ve gained along the way.
- What ideas gave you success or bombed into failure? Why? Was it due to an ill-conceived idea or just a lack of money or commitment?
- What technologies have given you a competitive edge?
- What markets have been receptive to your offerings? Are there any ways you can expand further in those markets or apply that experience to another niche?
Your past experience is incredibly valuable; use it as your foundation when creating your business development strategy.
2. Define success
The second step to creating a business development strategy is defining what success will look like for your company. What do you want to achieve with — and through — your organization?
Avoid defining success solely in financial terms.
While finances are important, and should be a factor in determining success, you should include the measurable impact your company can make within your community.
- What foundations can you support?
- What are some social or humanitarian initiatives your company can get behind?
- Is there a cause that aligns with your business — mental health, addiction therapy, homelessness?
Creating social and humanitarian goals helps your company to not only achieve financial success but also have a positive impact on the world around you. It also improves employee morale, as many take pleasure in having a positive impact.
3. Pinpoint your target customer
Having a well-defined understanding of your target markets and the buyers within those markets is crucial to creating an effective business development strategy. In today’s competitive environment, it’s important for you to focus your limited resources on high-return opportunities and clients.
This is where creating accurate buyer personas comes into play. With buyer personas, you outline the major determining characteristics of the people most likely to buy from you. This could include:
- The industry they work in
- Their income or annual revenue
- Where they live or do business
- The social media they prefer
These and other factors can help you get an accurate picture of your ideal target audience. This picture will define the tools and messages you use to reach them.
You might even be able to hyper-target your particular niche. For example, you might determine that your B2B company “targets technology and SaaS companies, located in western United States, with annual revenue ranging from $10M to $250M.”
Creating a buyer persona such as this one will help you create more targeted marketing and lead-generation campaigns, keeping your audience at the forefront of your thoughts and marketing efforts.
4. Set challenging yet achievable goals
Building on your definition of success, you’ll need to create some clear-cut, measurable KPIs (key performance indicators).
How many new clients do you want to close on this year? How many per quarter?
Without setting goals, your company is continually chasing an elusive ideal where the bar to success keeps rising higher and higher.
Your employees might even become demoralized because no matter how hard they work, it never seems to be enough. You must provide them with stated goals so that they know how much of an impact their efforts are having.
Besides financial objectives, it’s even possible to set annual goals for your humanitarian initiates if you so desire.
By taking your annual goals and breaking them down to quarters, months, and even weeks, you’ll be able to have a better idea of how your company is performing against your overall objectives.
5. Choose your marketing tools
Once you’ve determined which markets you’ll target or expand into, and what your overall goals will be for the upcoming year, it’s time to think about how to reach your target audience.
In this step of your business development strategy, you’ll first want to choose which marketing tactics will be most effective with your particular audience.
For instance, potential marketing solutions include:
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Paid advertising
- Customer referrals
Once you’ve selected a few marketing methods that will resonate with your target audience, you’ll need to select which tools and apps to use.
For example, let’s say that you are targeting business executives and other professionals. In this case, you’d want to discover which social media platforms, media outlets, publications and other marketing channels they interact with on a daily basis. This might be LinkedIn, an industry-specific publication, a business association, or otherwise.
Along those lines, many companies have wasted money reaching poorly-targeted audiences. An example of this might be attempting to reach business executives through Instagram ads, sports team sponsorship, or even hosting a video game tournament. While these three channels might be wonderful for reaching certain audiences, they will not likely be the most effective channels for targeting business executives.
Since most companies are restricted to a marketing budget, you’ll want to focus your advertising on the channels that will have the greatest impact and provide the ability to hyper-target your audience niche.
Wrapping it up
Developing an effective business development strategy is key to your business success. In this article, we took a brief look at some ways to do this, including:
- Utilizing past experience to create a strategy for future growth
- Defining what success would look like for your company
- Pinpointing target audiences and markets
- Creating challenging objectives
- Choosing marketing strategies and technologies
You can add steps, as required by your particular company or circumstances, but the steps outlined in this article should start you on your journey towards success. Here’s to the best year yet!
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