Like the individuals who run them, businesses eventually grow to be a reflection of their owners and a unique specimen unto themselves. It takes firm, directed and focused planning that is deliberate, strategic and consistent in its choices and actions to get a business through to these stages.

Where it arrives will be a blend of intentional action and organic response, all within the context of a well-defined growth marketing strategy.

What it all comes down to, then, is the recognition of where a business is, where it intends to grow and what strategies it will take to get there. These strategies are choices — the very same choices that Michael Porter says are essential to a business’s DNA.

While there are now clear actions that businesses can take — such as training, innovation, digital transformation, data & insights, investing in technology and more — is there a single test for learning about the efficacy of strategies?

Strategies themselves will change but good strategies must pass five key tests:

  • The test of value proposition
  • The test of tailoring activities to that value prop
  • The test that calls for making those inevitable and unavoidable trade-offs (i.e., choosing what not to do)
  • The test of ‘fit’, bringing the best ‘parts’ of strategies together in one seamless, complex but reliable system that fit together to produce consistent results
  • The test of identifying, quickly and easily, strategies of continuity when faced with the latest ‘New Thing’

When these companies look back at what they have achieved, they won’t take steps that zigzag all over the place. Instead, they’ll be able to trace back a distinctive pattern or “footprint” of manageable tracks. In and of themselves, these strategies won’t move the needle. But link them together as a staircase of sequential growth and a business can achieve significant and dynamic results.

And that’s what growth is really all about: maximising where we are while building towards where we intend to be next.