How to grow your UK business in 2022.
Wondering how to grow your UK business in 2022?
Fed up of so called “experts” repeating vague platitudes such as “you must get on Instagram“?
Let's cut the BS.
Here are 7 online and traditional marketing strategies that ACTUALLY work in 2022, with inspiring real world examples.
It's worth mentioning that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for everyone.
But, these strategies are effective for almost every product or service based business, whether you're starting a new company from scratch or growing your own small business (hopefully, into a large business).
Build great products/services.
Building great products or services is essential for growth. Think about it, how did you first hear about Facebook, or even the last restaurant you went to? For many people, it would have been from a friend raving about their experience.
But how do you build a product/service that's so good, people spontaneously tell their friends?
First, speak to your customers.
But what should you ask? Well, only 3 things:
1) What do they like about your product/service?
2) What do they dislike about your product/service?
3) If they had a magic wand, what new product/service or improvement to your existing product/service would they make?
One word of warning, it can't be understated how important it is to get truthful answers. Tactics to help with this include:
- Avoid asking friends & family who will tell you what you want to hear
- Pretend to the interviewee that you're not the owner of the business
- Tell the interviewee repeatedly that their honesty is paramount
Second, observe your customers.
Observation is not a substitute for speaking to your customers, but it has one distinct advantage. It reveals what people actually do, not just what they say they do.
1) If you have reviews, see how people have rated your product/service, and how they describe their experience with it.
2) Identify your primary metric. For example, if you're in E-Commerce, this is 'Purchases'. If you were Airbnb, this would be 'Bookings'. For your product/service, do you have a sizable percentage of customers who repeatedly perform this action for months, years, or better, indefinitely?
As you can see in the image (to the left on desktop, above on mobile), effective products/services have a group of loyal customers who use or purchase consistently over many years.
3) Identify if your customers are actively telling their friends. This could be via a "How did you hear about us?" multi-checkbox on your checkout page, or even just a rough estimation based on your observations.
Using these tactics, you should have a good idea how much your customers love your product/service. Don’t fool yourself into thinking people like it more than they do, you’re the one who will suffer at the end of the day.
1) Fix the things people don't like.
2) Double down on the things they do like.
3) If it makes sense, consider building the things they wish they had.
Using the tactics you used to learn from your customers, identify if the changes had a positive effect on their experience with your product/service, your primary metric, or word-of-mouth.
Using your learnings, repeat the cycle! This strategy is not a one-time hack. It must be consistently executed over your businesses lifespan.
If done right, your product/service will slowly improve to the point of excellence, and should hopefully reach what is know as 'Product Market Fit'.
Your customers will start spontaneously telling their friends, and more importantly, will buy again and again.
Cyclonic is a bicycle repair shop in Notting Hill, London.
Despite being founded in 2020, Cyclonic already has 59 five star reviews as a result of perfecting their service to the point of excellence, and are in the process of expanding to larger premises due to their word-of-mouth growth.
Start speaking to and observing your customers, make your products/services awesome, and watch your word-of-mouth skyrocket!
Improve your customer journey.
When your customers buy from you, whether they know it or not, they will go through a multi-step 'sales funnel'. This could be:
1) Seeing your ad on Instagram
2) Then entering their email on your website
3) Receiving a marketing email
4) Making a purchase
5) Submitting a customer support request
6) Then making several more purchases
If any step in your sales funnel is suboptimal it can drastically affect how many sales you generate. This could be any number of simple things such as:
- Your website not communicating your value proposition effectively
- Too many steps in your sales funnel
- Poor product pictures
- Slow customer support
The solution? Plug the holes in your leaky bucket.
When speaking to your customers, see if they mention any glaringly obvious sticking points and fix those.
Also, during these conversations, take note of the language your customers use and integrate their terminologies into your brand's messaging, throughout your sales funnel.
You, or the technical person on your team, must research the best practices for every step in your sales funnel (e.g. landing page design and copywriting etc). Using this knowledge, optimize your funnel using your intuition.
Make sure your customer interactions, across all of your channels, are coordinated, natural and seamless. You don't want your customers to receive an automated email saying one thing, then a conflicting WhatsApp message 10 minutes later, saying something else.
For the most important steps in your sales funnel, create A/B Tests to increase your conversion rate.
A/B Tests, otherwise known as Split Tests, are experiments to compare two versions of an element (e.g. image, headline, button etc) to see which performs the best. Over time, this can drastically improve your funnel's performance.
Because of the relative complexity of this tip, it's easy for people to skip it in favor of tactics which directly bring in more leads, like paid advertising.
However, using the leaky bucket analogy, the more water you put in the bucket, the more water will escape. This seems trivial, until you think of the water as your marketing budget and potential customers.
On the flip side, once you plug those holes, your sales funnel can become a money making machine. For example, for every £1,000 worth of leads that go in, £10,000 worth of sales comes out.
Fat Stone Farm sell farm-grown products ranging from elderberry apple shots to their own maple syrup on Shopify.
Using extensive funnel optimization and A/B testing, they managed to increase their landing page's purchase rate to 5%, and then again to a whopping 18%.
As a result, their overall cost-per-purchase went from £119 to an extraordinary £8 over a 5-month period.
If you don't have any technical experience, sales funnel optimization can be a daunting task.
If you would like personalized guidance on how best to move forward, chat with me using the icon in the bottom right.
Retain your existing customers.
People think that growing a business is all about getting more customers. However, the single biggest indicator of a business's success is “retention”.
Retention is essentially how well your business keeps your existing customers. Are your customers continuously using your product, buying it again and again, and telling their friends? Or are they using it once or twice and not coming back?
Put it this way, it's much cheaper and easier to convince one customer to buy 5 times, than 5 customers to buy once.
I might sound like a stuck record at this point, but retention and word-of-mouth usually comes from having a great product and outstanding customer experience, which in turn comes from speaking to your customers. So, focus on that first.
However, if you want to manually encourage retention and word-of-mouth look into:
- Subscription packages to “lock-in” customers
- Email campaigns and paid advertising to reactivate previous customers
- Customer loyalty programs
- Incentivised referral programs (e.g. Give 15% off, get £20)
But remember, almost universally, these won't work until you have a product people really care about.
Lutyens & Rubenstein is a bookshop in Notting Hill, London.
Due to the frequent and repeat nature of book sales, a subscription model is ideal for their business.
To retain their customers and maximize revenue they offer a range of book subscriptions, starting at £45 and reaching £300 per year.
If you haven't already, focus initially on improving your product and customer journey.
However, if you want to impact customer retention directly, look into some of the tactics I've mentioned above.
Analyze your metrics and trim the fat.
A hugely undervalued principal in business is 'focus'.
If things aren't going well with sales, it's tempting to expand your product range or offer more services. However, as a small business this can quickly become chaotic and hard to manage.
Much of the time, you're better off having a hard look at your sales numbers and speaking to your customers to figure out what product or service your customers purchase and love the most, then putting your time and financial resources towards that.
Product range expansion can come later once you've found a core product people really love.
This rule can be applied to almost everything in your business, particularly marketing channels.
Double down on what's working, and kill what isn't.
X.com, co-founded by Elon Musk, was one of the first digital banks.
Within their vast feature set was the primitive ability to send money using email.
After struggling for years to get traction, they started seeing a disproportionate amount of usage and interest in this single feature.
After much debate, they made the decision to scrap everything and focus exclusively on this single feature.
This would eventually become PayPal, one of the fastest growing companies in history.
If you don't regularly look at your marketing and sales data, dust it off and see which of your products, services, features and marketing channels performs the best.
Consider their prices, costs, and what your users say about them.
Can you trim any fat and capitalize on what's working?
If your business has a physical location, you know how important Google Reviews are. Especially when paired with Google Maps.
However, even if you don't, collecting excellent reviews is your best way to display social proof to prospective customers, probably your most important purchasing signal.
Good reviews are intrinsically linked to having a good product and customer experience, so see tips 1 and 2.
Notting Hill Gate Opticians in London are testament to the importance of reviews.
A competitor of theirs started writing fake Google reviews, which dropped their rating below ⅗.
As a result, a member of their team told me: “we were dead”. But once Google removed the fake reviews, their growth accelerated significantly.
In their words, “Good reviews are the most important thing. Almost all of our new customers say they found us because of reviews”.
Signup for a Google Business Profile and start collecting Google Reviews from your customers.
Marketing your product is all about getting the correct messaging across to a large enough number of the “right people”.
Depending on your industry, a good way of achieving this might be attending trade shows and events.
Typically, businesses pay for a stand to display their products. However, you can get creative here...
WePay, a competitor to PayPal, placed a giant block of ice containing cash to highlight PayPal's controversial practice of freezing their customer's funds, directly outside of PayPal's annual conference.
This resulted in huge exposure, with almost zero budget.
Use Google and Eventbrite to check out upcoming events in your local area relevant to your business.
However, be wary of the events directed towards meeting investors, these are frequently a waste of time. Focus on events where you can meet potential customers.
Google, Facebook and Instagram Ads.
Facebook, Instagram and Google advertising is a double-edged sword.
Do it wrong, and it's a sure-fire way to waste every penny of your marketing budget. Do it right, and it can be hands down the most effective way to profitably acquire new customers.
This means finding a true expert to set up, manage and optimize your ads is crucial.
But beware, there are plenty of marketing charlatans who, intentionally or not, will cut corners - a recipe for disaster in paid advertising, where the smallest details can make the difference.
Hudson Home, a homeware and small furniture store based in the UK, used Facebook and Instagram Ads to target high-quality prospects based on the attributes of their existing customers.
Using their exceptional product imagery, they produced fantastic results: acquiring 2,526 new customers leading to a 26x return-on-ad-spend.
To see if your business is a good fit for paid advertising, chat with me using the icon in the bottom right.
Now over to you!
So those are my tips to grow your UK business in 2022, that actually work.
Now I want to turn it over to you: Which strategy from today's guide are you going to try first?
Are you going to work on improving your product?
Or try Google, Facebook or Instagram Ads first?
If this has been helpful, go ahead and share it!
If you have any questions or need help, chat with me using the icon in the bottom right.