Many business pundits contend that if a business doesn’t grow, it will die. I understand this statement on one level, but I disagree on another. It’s great to grow sales if you are ready for it, but the fastest way to go out of business is to sell more products or services than you are prepared to deliver. This is especially true in the service business. If you sell a product, you can’t mail it if you don’t have it, but in the service business a lot of people try to deliver half-you-know-what service when their customers paid full price. In the web marketing business there are a lot of companies providing half-you-know-what service.
The key to success in any business, mine or yours, is building a great product or service first and then focusing on sales. If you build a great product or service, they WILL come.
In my mind there are two different kinds of growth – internal and external. When most companies talk about “growth”, they mean external growth. They want more customers and more sales. While sales and revenue are important, I think that having a great product or service is even more important.
Focusing your time, energy and financial resources on building a better experience for your customers is what I consider internal growth. Michael Gerber, author of The E-myth Revisited, calls this “working on” your business rather than “working in it”.
At TwentySix2 we have experienced year over year growth every year except one since we began in 2001. This growth has been the result of many different things over the years, but the two biggest drivers have been 1) hiring and developing great people and 2) working on how we take care of our clients. Both of these drivers are work we do internally and they have nothing to do with sales and marketing.
In the sales and marketing process we talk about how great we are and why you should hire our agency, but at the end of the day, talk is cheap. What matters more than anything is delivering on the promises we make. And as far as I can tell, the only way to take care of our clients is to continuously focus on and improve on the way we deliver services.
So how do we do that?
- Set client expectations about potential results
- Clearly define deliverables and timelines
- Educate clients about online marketing
- Communicate clearly and often (and don’t BS anyone)
- Deliver ROI on our services
- Learn from our mistakes and get better
- Keep up with industry changes
- Continuously train our people on all things digital
Our list of these internal tactics that help us deliver better service is 67 bullets long, but they are also our competitive advantage, so I can’t share them all.
As you can see, not a one of these tactics has anything to do with sales, marketing or lead generation? The next time someone tells you that “businesses must grow or die”, dig a little deeper. I think a better way to put it is “every business must continuously learn, evolve and improve over time or they will die.”