When it comes to choosing the types of marketing suitable for your business and the appropriate resource allocation, understanding where your business is in its lifecycle, is critical. This is because the priorities of the business are different depending which phase you’re in. To explain, let’s start by looking at the four generally accepted phases of business:
For the purpose of this discussion, we will just spend time on the first three.
Choosing the Right Type of Marketing Based on the Lifecycle of your Business
When a business is first established, the most important thing is driving immediate revenue. “Sales solves everything.” You may be inclined to start some ‘fun marketing’ tactics, such as social media and blogging, but if revenue is not coming in, you could be in trouble. This “Start-up” phase requires a sharp focus and commitment to business development to avoid a quick burn-out.
Business Development initiatives could include reaching out to your network and working to understand if they have a need for your offering. This could be via direct emails, cold calling and/or direct response advertising. All of these tactics are focused on getting results as quickly as possible which is important when every dollar counts.
As the business moves to the “Growth” phase, your marketing and growth tactics start to shift and you may focus on ideas and initiatives which don’t necessarily need an immediate return on investment. That’s because the business should be in a situation where there is steady revenue, cash flow is working for you and you have the opportunity to look at some long-term investment opportunities. It is still very important to make the right decisions in this phase regarding your marketing priorities, otherwise you may see yourself retract backwards to the “Start-up” phase. In this stage however, you have been able to buy yourself some time.
The types of marketing activities that you can be looking at in the “Growth” phase focus on long-term organic growth such as search engine optimization, and paid activities such as digital advertising. It’s important to note that while digital marketing has the ability to bring in immediate revenue, it does take time to optimise. This means the initial cycles can sometimes take time to get to a return.
It’s also important that you continue with the activities where you have seen success in the past and layer them on top of new ones. Just because you’ve moved into a new growth cycle doesn’t mean you forget what has been successful. This is why there are many paths to growth and having a diversified plan provides opportunities to learn and a solid roadmap for long-term success. Think of it like building blocks evolving in maturity over time.
Beyond the “Growth” phase, you start to look at business “Maturity”. Once you transition into this stage you should have a very clear understanding of the types of marketing that are working for your business. These should feature a blend of activities that include long-term traffic generation and brand building initiatives. It’s in this “Maturity” stage that you should be really looking for opportunities to build legacy around your business. These may include longer-term programs that may not directly increase revenue but will indirectly through brand awareness and helping with the sale cycle.
So the ultimate question that you need to ask yourself as a business owner is; where is my business situated in its current life cycle, and based upon that, what are the appropriate marketing activities that I should be looking to employ that will allow me to be successful during that cycle.
By having this calculated view you can understand where your priority should be sitting at that moment, and what the next round of resource allocation should be.