We work with lots of startups and SMBs in a variety of industries. Most commonly we deal with companies who drive growth by acquiring customers. Whether that means users downloading apps, frequenting their website, using their SaaS, or just walking through their door. In that kind of situation, where all you want is more users, how do you diversify your growth strategy? Here’s a few ways to start.
New Marketing Targets
The typical growth strategy for new startups is to target a niche of users and market to them as a way of gaining a foothold. This is because specificity allows the startup to build a more optimized product that offers a better experience to the target user, and craft targeted marketing messages that are more likely to convert people into customers.
To expand that growth strategy is as simple as finding and targeting additional niches. Now when I say simple, I mean simple in concept, not necessarily in execution. Properly targeting a new niche might mean updating the product to appeal to another market, and it certainly means creating and running new marketing campaigns. For each new market you pursue you’ll have your work cut out for you, but it’s ultimately a pretty straightforward way of moving forward.
It should be noted that not all companies target consumers, obviously. Many are B2B, selling services, tools, or talent to other businesses. But the same ideas apply. In a broader scope, something to consider is whether your B2B company can branch out to also serve consumers, and vice versa if you currently target consumers. Consider Such a move will greatly diversify your growth strategy.
You can produce a new avenue for growth by partnering with other businesses. In the digital age, this often means integration of technologies. For instance, AirBnB heavily leaned on Craigslist to deal with distribution of content early in its life. This kind of relationship between products typically works in both companies’ favors, since for Craigslist it means another potentially valuable feature tied to their ecosystem, keeping users engaged. And for AirBnB it meant access to users that otherwise might not ever be reached.
Another example: every company that builds apps for Apple Watch gains the benefits of marketing to Watch users. Every business that gets on Yelp or Foursquare becomes just a bit more visible to potential customers.
The deeper your integration, the more unique your partnership, the higher your potential for growth. Taylor Swift’s recent music video got its own emoji on Twitter. That’s unique. It turns heads. Not that Taylor Swift really needed the marketing boost, but that’s besides the point.:)
Build your own Platform
Another way to promote growth in a new direction is to create developer resources which can tie your core services into other products. Instead of bringing other tech into your product, as in the above section, you give others the opportunity to put your tech into their solutions. This gives your customers the ability to integrate your tools into their own products or internal software. By providing a platform for others to expand on, you give your company a new vector for growth that is extremely scalable.
As we know, the more specific the use-cases for a product the better an experience it can guarantee; the more specific you can be the better. The problem is that (generally speaking) growth implies moving beyond niche markets, which means finding new kinds ofusers for the product. The more use-cases you try to support, the more you spread yourself thin and the UX begins to suffer.
But if you simply build a platform for others to expand on, they do all the work targeting niche markets for you! Each individual solution they build retains specificity, while you benefit from widespread use of your core platform tech. That’s why Twitter has an API, why Box announced a developer edition of their cloud services.
And you don’t have to already be a big player to move in this direction, take Moxtra for example, which is succesful, but far from a household name; they’ve already created several SDKs for app builders, the most recent being Clip which allows for in-app screen recording.
If your company is successful in its own right, another way to broaden your growth potential is to acquire other companies. We see it happen all the time with big companies, especially Facebook in recent history, shelling out billions to buy new companies that can grow in new directions. But such transactions are not reserved for power players like Facebook or Google.
For example, around the same time it went IPO, OpenTable acquired european competitor toptable.co.uk for $55 million. Several years later OpenTable was itself acquired by Priceline for roughly $2.6 billion (46% premium on the previous day’s stock price). The acquisition was a valuable shortcut into the european market.
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