Laying out your customer proposition is not a one-off project. As your business grows you get pickier about the audience you’re focusing on, and as you get closer to your customers you better learn the language that resonates with them. You also become more sophisticated in understanding where your margin comes from as you start to make money on the bottom line as well as the top. All these learnings help you to evolve your proposition which shifts your brand tone, your marketing campaigns, and often your services entirely.
Top Tip: From the start set your expectation that the proposition will evolve over time, and plan in time to review what’s working and what’s not. See any time that you invest into evolving your proposition as progress rather than thinking you got it wrong the first time – it’s all part of the journey to success!
Lots of businesses have very high expectations on the speed of growth they want, and sometimes these high expectations encourage them to fall into the trap of ‘throwing money’ at marketing.
By investing heavily in marketing there can be the belief that the more that is invested the faster the business will grow, and whilst effective marketing can obviously fuel growth it can also be where vital money gets burnt. We see this particularly with digital marketing. Don’t get us wrong, well thought out digital marketing can be spectacular in fuelling fast growth, however it’s also a precise art. Spending too much on digital marketing before truly understanding your customers or your proposition can make money magically disappear, and unlike other marketing efforts once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Top Tip: Make sure you’re happy with the ROI and conversion rates by running smaller ‘test and learn’ digital pilots before scaling up.
The brand can look and sound great, with everyone in the business on the same path, but one pitfall we often see is that an important group of people aren’t onboard with the vision – the customer. We’ve regularly observed brands not bringing the customers on the journey with them, and not validating the business proposition with customers is a real hazard to success. Scale-ups are often disrupters, ahead of the curve in their thinking, and sometimes the challenge is that the customer just isn’t ready.
Top Tip: If you’re innovating and treading new paths, remember to factor in how you will bring the customers on the journey with you before they will buy your product or service.
The adage about the chicken or the egg is apt here! Businesses often fail when they invest all their energy into building a great brand but trip up over not putting the same effort into making the business model stack up – they simply run out of cash before the whole thing monetises.
We’ve also seen businesses miss out on their full potential because they focus all their efforts into running a great business, and not enough on investing in their brand (which has sometimes meant letting a friend design a logo and buying a cheap off-the-shelf website).
Top Tip: The reality is investing in both your brand and your business is where the true value lies, neither deserves a shortcut.
It’s easy to get over excited about your success, after all you’ve seen the numbers in your forecast and this thing is going to make you the next Richard Branson…. but keep those feet on the ground! Getting your head in the clouds by hiring a highly paid CMO and a top London agency is where things can start to unravel.
Top Tip: Look for the best expertise at affordable rates. Instead of committing to huge marketing salaries consider tapping into part-time networks like The Marketing Centre. When choosing your agency shop about, reach out for referrals, and find a team that wants to come on the whole journey with you as you grow.
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