In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, understanding the customer journey has never been more essential. A firm grasp on this path, from awareness to purchase, can mean the difference between a thriving enterprise and one that struggles to keep pace. It’s the guiding force behind profitable growth and business longevity.
Of course, to understand the minutia of growing your business, it’s important to understand the history of business itself, particularly in a post-industrial world. There are so many different ways for businesses to grow, but it’s important to know which strategies failed and which ones have stood the test of time.
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The Evolution of Marketing
Any plan for business growth will inevitably involve marketing. After all, the best product in the world won’t turn a profit if nobody knows it even exists.
Let’s take a dive into the history of marketing, and how that has defined business growth throughout the decades.
Marketing in the 20th Century
The 20th century saw the golden age of advertising. It started with marketing classes in prestigious schools as early as 1905.
In the wake of the new century, the main idea became clear for business owners: focus on what the customer wants, find out what they need, know what they need to grow.
Of course, marketing wasn’t as necessary back in the days of slow mass communication as it is in today’s fast-paced world.
Products would often sell themselves, not because of any particularly high quality, but because they were the only option. Of course, that wasn’t actually the case, but due to the lack of mass marketing, people only bought what they could see.
All of that changed in the post-war economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. The golden age of marketing started to sell not what the product is, but what the product does for its customers. By the late 1970s, businesses knew they needed to research and understand their customers deeply.
Of course, it wouldn’t do to discuss marketing without mentioning the massive power of television during the 1980s. Instead of the limited number of channels from local broadcast stations, viewers now had a plethora of options. This led to the growth of niche channels that targeted specific demographics. Marketers capitalized on this by tailoring their ads to particular audiences.
The 1980s saw several memorable ad campaigns that have become ingrained in popular culture. After all, this was the era of “radical” toy commercials and “awesome” breakfast cereal. Marketing, for the lack of a better term, was “cooler” than it’s ever been. This coolness would continue to influence how businesses grew themselves through the remainder of the decade.
Speaking of cool, the 1990s would then see the rise of what we now know as influencer marketing. While there have always been celebrity endorsements, it was the 90s that truly capitalized on the idea of selling what products could turn you into. “If you use our product, then you’re one step closer to being like your favorite celebrities.” This was when marketing slowly started to turn into a culture.
As can be plainly seen, businesses have always aimed to offer products best suited to different customer groups.
While marketing has changed over time due to technology and culture, the main concepts from the past still stand strong. Each decade in the 20th century brought with it new strategies and technologies that changed the face of marketing.
Even so, all these marketing innovations would pale in comparison to the 21st century.
Now, we’re in an era where the customer holds the power, making marketing more complex than ever before.
Thanks to technology, consumers decide how, where, and when they’ll interact with a brand. With instant access to information and online reviews, the modern customer is well-informed and has high expectations.
Brands now need to create personalized experiences and engage in meaningful two-way conversations.
Before the social media boom, the internet was already changing how consumers interacted with businesses. The advent of Google is arguably the biggest driver for this.
With just a few clicks on their computers, customers could now check a business’s reputation and services, oftentimes without the business even knowing.
Email marketing was also a more targeted version of old newsletters. It was far more convenient and didn’t get lost in the shuffle of bills and personal letters.
Of course, customers started to wise up to the rudimentary ad strategies of that era. Markets once again had to adapt to a consumer that was becoming more and more savvy. Fortunately for them, social media became the central hub of the entire internet. It is no exaggeration to say that social media has changed the face of business as we know it today.
Customers and businesses no longer had a “show-and-tell” relationship. Now, customers can talk directly to businesses and follow their every update in real time. It is this era that we now find ourselves in, the era of instant communication, information, and gratification. Business growth has more options than ever before.
Common strategies for expanding businesses
With all of that knowledge in mind, it’s time to expand on what you can do to expand your own business.
These are the four fundamentals of modern business growth.
In today’s connected world, having a digital footprint ensures that your business is visible and accessible to a vast audience worldwide.
Whether it’s through a website, social media platforms, or online marketplaces, a strong digital presence ensures you can reach potential customers beyond your immediate locale.
Online platforms offer a wealth of data about customer behaviors, preferences, and feedback. By analyzing this data, businesses can make informed decisions and refine their strategies.
A robust digital footprint also helps establish credibility. When customers see consistent activity, reviews, and engagement online, they’re more likely to trust and do business with the company.
By diversifying product or service offerings, businesses can spread risk. If one segment faces a downturn, others can potentially make up for the decline. Diversification can also help businesses cater to different customer segments or needs that they hadn’t addressed before.
Multiple offerings also mean multiple streams of revenue, ensuring that the business isn’t overly reliant on one income source. With how competitive businesses are these days, it’s important to have multiple revenue streams to weather any trends or sources.
Expanding geographically allows businesses to reach and serve new customer bases, increasing potential sales and profit.
If a business operates in multiple regions or countries, challenges or downturns in one area might be offset by stability or growth in another.
Different regions also offer varied consumer behaviors and preferences. Understanding these can lead to new insights and strategies beneficial for business growth.
For example, your product may not have initially sold in one area but turned out to be a hit for another. Taking a look at the location and demographic may be the secret sauce to your surprising success.
Common Mistakes for Quick Expanding Businesses
In the excitement of expansion, businesses end up making some unfortunate mistakes. Let’s take a look at these mistakes to better understand how to avoid them.
Lack of Preparation
When businesses dive into projects or new ventures without proper planning, they often encounter unforeseen obstacles that could have been mitigated or avoided altogether.
This lack of foresight can lead to wasted time, resources, and missed opportunities, ultimately stunting growth and potential profits.
Neglecting Core Customers
Core customers are the backbone of any business; they’re loyal, often repeat buyers, and can be a brand’s biggest advocates.
By neglecting them in pursuit of new clientele, businesses risk losing a dependable revenue stream and tarnishing their reputation. Maintaining strong ties with existing customers often ensures steady growth and builds brand loyalty.
Feedback, whether positive or negative, provides invaluable insights into customer needs, preferences, and areas of improvement.
By ignoring it, businesses miss out on opportunities to refine their offerings, improve customer satisfaction, and stay ahead of potential issues. A company that doesn’t adapt based on customer feedback risks becoming outdated or irrelevant in the market.
Spreading resources too thin, whether it’s finances, manpower, or other assets, can leave a business vulnerable.
Overextension can lead to compromised quality, burnout among employees, and financial strain. Businesses need to understand their limits and scale responsibly.
While it’s essential to have enough staff to meet business demands, hiring more employees than necessary can lead to increased expenses and reduced efficiency.
Overhiring can strain a company’s finances due to elevated payroll and training costs, and it can also lead to decreased morale if employees feel their roles aren’t essential.
Focusing solely on short-term gains might mean missing out on investments or strategies that would benefit the business in the long run.
Sustainable success often requires patience and a vision that looks beyond the immediate horizon. The problem with short-term gratification is that it is often not sustainable.
Not Tracking Your Progress
Without regularly evaluating and tracking performance, businesses can’t accurately gauge their growth, setbacks, or areas needing improvement.
Monitoring progress ensures that companies can pivot when necessary, allocate resources efficiently, and set realistic goals for the future.
You may consider investing in tools that can better track essential KPIs, for example, if you aim to increase your organic traffic, you may look for SEO monitoring tools to help you identify opportunities to utilize SEO and organic traffic to grow your profit and brand.
No Solid Branding Push
A strong brand identity distinguishes a business from its competitors and fosters customer trust and recognition.
Without a consistent and solid branding effort, businesses struggle to create a memorable impression in the market, making it harder to attract and retain customers.
Best Strategies for Modern Business Growth
Now that we understand the fundamentals of growth and the common mistakes present in the venture, it’s time to take everything we’ve learned and apply it to your business.
Time is of the essence in the business world. Automation is what enables businesses to have all of their different revenue sources without being overwhelmed.
By removing the most repetitive and time-consuming tasks, businesses are free to focus their mental energies on major projects. Utilize tech such as AI automation to save more time and reallocate your effort to more essential projects.
Offering tailored experiences boosts customer satisfaction. Using data to understand preferences and customizing products, services, or marketing messages accordingly proves effective. Make sure to track sales, queries, and feedback to maintain strong business relationships with your customers.
The business landscape changes continually. Whether it’s books for digital nomads or following industry trends on the internet, it’s imperative to never stop learning.
In that regard, understanding the customer data you gather is pivotal. With this knowledge, businesses can tailor their offerings and marketing efforts for maximum impact.
Gone are the days when businesses could rely solely on the quality of their product. Now, fostering strong relationships with customers, suppliers, and stakeholders alike ensures sustainable growth.
Social media in particular has made this connection even more powerful, as customer service teams can chat with customers in real time.
Benefits of Business Growth
Now let’s see the fruits that your business bears after a successful growth push.
Naturally, growth leads to higher sales and, in turn, increased revenue. This financial stability allows businesses to invest in itself once more. Increased revenue is essential for the continuous growth of a business, as without it, all you’d be left with is the costs of an even bigger business.
With growth comes visibility. As businesses expand, their brand becomes more recognizable, creating trust and credibility in the market.
Brand recognition is hard to control, and first impressions are crucial for retaining customers.
Once your brand is trustworthy in the mind of a customer, it will take quite a bit to dissuade them from that opinion.
Growth opens doors. Whether it’s forming partnerships, entering new markets, or launching new products, a growing business enjoys numerous opportunities for further expansion.
Just take a look at how many tech entrepreneurs started their business out of their parents’ garage. It’s only fitting that new doors are only accessible once you reach a new level.
The path to profitable business growth isn’t a straight line. It’s a journey shaped by the customer experience, driven by modern strategies and tools, and dotted with both opportunities and challenges. The history of marketing proves that there are always new ways to capitalize on customer interest.
New technologies and strategies spring forth every day, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all this information.
However, by understanding this path and navigating it wisely, businesses can ensure not just growth but lasting success. All they need is the right tools, information, and drive to become successful.
Regi Publico is a full-time writer who is also an artist for fun. She takes pride in her towering collection of books and loves reading about anything under the sun. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge through every article that she writes.