Determining your strengths and then staying true to them will fuel your business's growth and bolster your bottom line.
You probably understand what it's like to be extremely focused on growing an endeavor you care so much about. While growth may be exciting, it can be dangerous when unrestrained. Unfortunately, some businesses sacrifice the early characteristics that made them successful in the first place.
I'm fortunate that my digital marketing agency, Logical Position, has seen dramatic growth over the last few years. But we've taken steps to preserve the key differentiators fueling our growth. In a recent Forbes article, I wrote about managing our unique corporate culture through growth.
However, another key preservation component can be found in the attitude we adopted toward clients in the early days. From day one, we've made an effort to ensure that our smallest clients are treated with the same attention, commitment, and respect as our largest clients. While this might sound like more work, this attitude has been a key driver of success that we want to preserve.
This same approach could benefit your business as well.
Our company built its reputation serving small businesses. Early on, we saw mom-and-pop operations spending their hard-earned money on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns with agencies that weren't upfront about where all that money was going or how it impacted their sales. In response, we decided to make transparency our key differentiator. We pulled back the curtain, fearlessly walking our SMB clients through our strategy and its impact on their bottom line. That unique approach drove much of our early growth.
Eight years later, our client list now includes a large number of mid-size and enterprise-level businesses. It would be easy for us to focus our resources on the clients with budgets that dwarf our average SMB client. Some might even call that a smart allocation of resources. Or, at the very least, we could take a volume approach to our SMB clients by dialing back our service level, ramping up automation and just focusing on growth.
I imagine some of you might be facing these same decisions. You made your bones by being exceptional in one way or another and now – after a period of growth – stand at a crossroads. Do you stay true to what first brought you success or do you compromise that approach to pursue new opportunities? For my agency, here are three reasons why providing every client with the same level of service paid off:
- First, it's the smarter long-term decision. You never know which client could become your next big evangelist. If your smallest client suddenly refers 10 new clients, their value to your business immediately skyrockets. Conversely, it's impossible to know how much money a dissatisfied client might cost you in reputation alone.
- Second, treating your smallest customers as if they are your largest is simply the right thing to do. Every month, people are handing you their hard-earned money as an investment in their own hopes and dreams. It's therefore incumbent upon you to take them very seriously.
- And lastly, but most importantly, it's not easy to provide remarkable service to everyone. But through that struggle, we're reminded of who we really are. And because we've figured out this challenge, and continue to demand it of ourselves, we're now able to provide a better level of service than ever.
Remember what brought you here
As your business grows, I encourage you to reflect on what brought that initial success and then define it. For my business, it was transparency, customer service and company culture. For you, it might be product superiority or location or a thousand different variables unique to your business. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you continue with these efforts:
- Define what makes you different and don't sacrifice it. Codify that differentiator in your mission, vision and values statement.
- Be careful about who you put in leadership positions. Your managers and senior leadership must personify your corporate values and disseminate them among your employees.
- Make smart decisions about automation. What might seem more efficient could compromise personal interactions and hurt customer service.
- Humanize your clients. All of them — especially the small business owners — are real people with bills, obligations and goals for their businesses.
- Don't skimp on training. Investing in people will always pay off.
There are some who argue that human-centered customer service is outdated in an automated age, but our internal metrics show the opposite. In fact, our client retention rate today is better than it's ever been. That's strong anecdotal proof that remaining true to your strengths will bolster your bottom line.
As you continue forging ahead, building the business you care so much about, remember what brought you here. That's how you'll stay focused through growth and remain positioned for further success.