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Winning Strategies

Are Your Competitors Using These 5 Business Growth Strategies In 2018?

There are lots of ways to grow your business: diversification, acquisition, product expansion, developing partnerships, market penetration, etc.

But one of the best business growth strategies from an ROI perspective is increasing market share through better marketing.

The reason you can see high returns with this strategy is because there is often a unique opportunity to get a competitive advantage.

Marketing has changed fundamentally over the last decade, and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. In many markets, companies are not developing strategies to meet this upheaval.

So, implementing strategies to match these tectonic shifts in consumer behavior can give you a distinct advantage over the competition.

This Isn't A Trends Article

We'll cover some of the most solid strategies heading into the heart of 2018 & early 2019. Note that we said "most solid." This isn't a "what we hope are the trendiest trendy trends" speculative post. These are tactics which have been proven to work over the last couple of years and which a lot of businesses still haven't started using.

One great way to use this list is to do a little research yourself to see if your competitors are killing it in these areas. If not, you have an opportunity to be the leader. With each strategy, we'll give you some tips on How To Scope The Competition so you can do some quick research on your own.

5 Customer-Centric Business Growth Strategies

1: Build Awareness With Video Marketing

You've probably noticed it in search engine results, your Facebook feed, and even in the more formal B2B world of LinkedIn. Video content is booming. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg predicted that he “wouldn’t be surprised if you fast-forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video.” In August 2017, LinkedIn added video posts to the news feed as part of a larger overall video push. Even if social media isn't a significant part of your marketing strategy, video should be. These indications show a shift in the type of content people want to see. Make plans to use more video on your website and emails, and start producing instructional videos on YouTube.

How To Scope The Competition

Go to the bottom of your competitor's website and click on the social media links. Look through their feed and see how often they post videos. Do a search on YouTube and Vimeo for your competitor's name or do some searches for instructional videos to see if they show up.

2: Podcast for B2B Exposure

As it often happens, when a new channel opens up there's an immediate surge of interest, and then it drops off rather precipitously. Many people thought podcasting was a hot trend a decade ago which fizzled out.

But podcasting isn't Pokemon Go. It's back and stronger than ever.

Check out this Google Trends graph showing the volume of searches for the word "podcast" over the last 14 years. PodcastingTrends

The 2017 numbers aren't in yet at the time of this post, but podcasting ad revenue was expected to jump a whopping 85% vs. 2016.

Putting ads on industry podcasts is one strategy to consider, but a more impactful option may be starting your own podcast covering topics your prospects are interested in. Or volunteering to be a guest on another leading podcast.

How To Scope The Competition

Search for your competitor's name on iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher. They may be guests on someone else's podcast, and a search may turn them up. Or subscribe to a few niche podcasts and give a listen. Their sponsorship may be audio-only and not in a text version in the podcast details.

3: Buy Customers (With Diversification)

As digital advertising continues to mature, there are fewer goldmine gaps to find which haven't been explored. But that doesn't mean paid traffic is a lousy growth strategy. Just make sure to diversify your ad spend across several channels and don't rely solely on paid ads.

Several of the larger platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Adwords gives you very precise targeting tools.

Internet ad spend passed TV ad spend in 2016, and the gap is expected to widen. Your competitors may not be taking advantage of these opportunities.

How To Scope The Competition

Search for your niche keywords and see if your competitor's ads show up. Or use tools like Spyfu or What Runs Where to find out who is advertising in your niche.

4: Increase Conversions With Smart Content

Smart content is website content which is customized for a user based on information gathered from a previous visit.

This can be in the form of personalized headlines, images, forms, or calls to action. Enterprise-level Content Management Systems like HubSpot make implementing smart content a breeze.

Does it work? In 2017, "HubSpot looked at the data for more than 93,000 calls to action created using HubSpot over a 12 month period and discovered that calls-to-action targeted to the user performed 42% better than calls-to-action that were generic."

If your competition isn't using smart content to capture more leads, you may have a distinct advantage at getting more leads, customers, and a larger share of the market. To learn more on this topic, check out Leverage Inbound Marketing To Climb HBR's 5 Stages Of Business Growth.

How To Scope The Competition

Go to your competitor's website and visit a few pages in a single section of the site, NOT every page on the website. By looking at one feature or service, their CMS may assume you want to see information on that feature or service on a future visit. Fill out a form using a non-branded email address. Then return to the site without clearing your browsing history and cookies.

5: Iterate Quickly With Nimble Websites & Marketing Experiments

Smart businesses are figuring out that dumping a crap-ton of money into one massive website overhaul every four years is a monumental waste of resources. The quarters-long project will be out of date before it sees the light of day and you'll get very little insight into what works and what doesn't.

Growth Driven Design (GDD) is an agile method which utilizes a scientific approach to launch quickly and continuously optimize brand experiences. The investment is spread out over the long-term.

One of the big advantages of GDD is that you'll get new insights into the thought processes of your customers. In 14-day sprints, you will hypothesize, test, analyze the results, and iterate to learn what motivates your site visitors to action.

Does it work? Watch how we helped StandDesk increase Customer Acquisition by 221% through GDD. 

How To Scope The Competition

Put your competitor's website url into The Wayback Machine. This is the archive of the internet and it may contain snapshots of your competitor's website over the last few years. If you see don't headline, content, or design changes on a regular basis, you have a great opportunity. Lean-Labs_Goal-Setting-Guide

Featured image at top: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=927886

Written by Ryan Scott / April 10, 2018

is the Inbound Marketing Artist at Lean Labs. His marketing experience ranges from colleges to SMBs, and tech startups. When not marketing, he's sure to be enjoying something nerdy.

Articles by Ryan Scott