We all want sustainable growth in our business. The question is: where to begin? Success expert and author Brian Tracy said, “When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.”
We can do more than walk around with a hammer. I think we can be more strategic by identifying four ways to grow your business and examining the pros and cons of each.
This is often the first place businesses go to drive growth, especially if they don’t know where else to start. There are numerous advertising options available including online, television, radio, print, newsletters, billboards, coupons and other promotions, bus benches, and even posting a business card on the local community bulletin board.
The Pros of Advertising
- The potential to reach masses of people in a short time frame.
- Very little work or effort because an expert is hired to do it.
- It can generate a large volume of leads.
- It can be targeted to specific demographics and to different geographic areas.
The Cons of Advertising
- Potentially the most expensive way to grow a business.
- If an advertising campaign is not strategically executed, it could have zero results.
- Some statistics show that 80% of sales come after at least five impressions or contacts with potential customers. There needs to be a commitment to a long-term strategy with advertising campaigns.
- Consumers are bombarded with ads, and it can be difficult to break through the clutter and capture their attention.
- Public Relations
Public relations (PR) manages the message between a company or individual and the public. Good PR helps build visibility, boost credibility, and enhance the reputation of a brand or company through storytelling, and by promoting a company’s products and services. This is usually accomplished through press releases, feature stories on television news broadcasts, and/or articles in newspapers, magazines, or websites.
The Pros of PR
- It is a cost-effective approach to building positive awareness about a brand.
- PR is an efficient tool for building credibility, especially through media relations.
- The third-party endorsement and support of a quality journalist who covers a story about your company can be invaluable.
- Good PR can enhance and amplify other marketing efforts.
The Cons of PR
- PR is generally about brand building. It is not about immediate sales.
- It takes time to build relationships with both journalists and with the public. Public relations results are not instantaneous.
- Measuring the results of any marketing initiative is critical. However, it is often difficult to evaluate the success of a PR campaign because it is not traditional marketing.
- Cold Calling
About ninety-seven percent of salespeople don’t like to make cold calls. That means the remaining three percent who claim to like cold calling are either lying or are gluttons for punishment. If so many salespeople dislike cold calling, why do they continue to do it? Perhaps it is that cold calling may seem to be the most direct route to conceivable new business.
The Pros of Cold Calling
- It allows someone to hone their skill of leaving the prefect voicemail message which will never be returned by most of the prospects being called.
- Cold calling builds character, which is supposedly good for you.
- If you make enough cold calls, someone will eventually take pity on you and just maybe buy something.
The Cons of Cold Calling
- It’s a cold call.
- It can take hundreds of cold calls before there are any signs of potential success.
- There are hundreds of calls to follow up with.
- Cold call recipients often reject the caller or just hang up on them.
- Networking and Referrals
One of the best opportunities for new business comes in the form of a referral. A referral is the most qualified form of new opportunities and is also a compliment to you and your business. Think about it: there is often nothing to gain on the part of the person giving the referral except their desire to recognize how great you are by allowing you to take care of their family, friends, and business associates.
The Pros of Networking and Referrals
- The closing ratio for referred clients is 300 – 700 percent higher than for cold call leads.
- Referred customers stay four times longer than non-referred customers.
- Clients from referrals buy 3-4 times more in the first year than those from other sources.
- Referred customers are more likely to refer you to their family, friends, and co-workers in the future.
The Cons of Networking and Referrals
- Quality referrals cannot be purchased. They must be earned with the investment of time and energy needed to develop deep business relationships.
- Without a referral marketing system or strategy, referrals can be infrequent and random.
- Profitable referral relationships take longer to develop because they are based on trust.
Now that you are familiar with the four ways to grow your business and understand the pros and cons for each, you can make an educated decision about what will work best for your business. It is likely that you will use (or already have used) a unique blend of all four of them. As a businessperson, I have used all of them at some point in my career.
My experience from more than three decades of growing and running a business is that referrals are the least costly form of business growth, and they typically produce better long-term results.
I invite you to share your experience and thoughts in the comment section.