Below, I divide growth strategies (strategies to grow an organisations online presence) into four types.
1. Bigger slice
Satisfying existing visitors.
You have 100 visitors to your online offerings. One of these visitors is a customer, doing the thing(s) that give value to the business (assuming that your business isn’t just to get visitors).
It’s reasonable when thinking about how to grow, to start with what you have and try to get two customers. It feels reasonable anyway. Just as reasonable as
Kodak making better/cheaper film to compete with the digital camera revolution.
Pro – You now have two customers for really little investment.
Con – You’ve reached your ceiling and are stagnating
2. Bigger pie
Creating new customers.
Now we’re talking. What’s everyone else doing now? How can we get a piece of that (through takeovers, partnerships, entering new markets)? You take your 100 visitors (and one customer) and try to increase that by, say 100. So now you have 200 visitors and two customers. Cool.
It’s surprising how many organisations don’t get to this stage. Often the barrier is that they’re doing too well. Or feel that they’re unique in some way, shielded from the digital disruption that’s happening to them.
To those that do, content strategy and platform innovation come are the tools. Let’s shift our content focus, capture these personas, give them what they want.
Pro – You have two customers (for a little more investment)
Cons – You have reached your ceiling and are stagnating
3. Future pie
Shaping what customers will want in the future.
So you have your 100 visitors (and one customer) and you completely ignore them. You disregard everything they’re doing on your site/your competitor’s sites and rip up the rule book of how to go about meeting their needs.
In five years time, you have 1,000,000 visitors and they’re all customers because, well, they are now in some way.
Or maybe not. Because Your CEO looked at the innovation in year two and didn’t like it or, did like it but didn’t think her customers would. Well, of course, they wouldn’t. The customers don’t exist yet. Still, the project got binned and the lead walked from the organisation in frustration and founded a start-up and took all your customers in ten years.
Pro – You have 1,000,000 customers
Con – You don’t. Because the project got canceled and you lost all your customers in the meantime.
4. All the pies
The only way to grow/exist in the long term is to look at being a bit of all three of the above. Serve your existing visitors better whilst looking for new ones with an eye (and the boldness) to look at the future.
This requires the most effort and the biggest culture change within an organisation. The majority within are probably using the ostrich pie strategy – sticking their head in the sand and saying their customers won’t want to change. And there’s plenty of evidence every day to confirm that bias. They haven’t changed yet. But then eventually the they become smaller and smaller. And it’s too late. And you’re dead.