How to Drive Organic Growth: 5 Proven Strategies for Professional Services Firms
Growth is one of the essential elements necessary for any business to thrive. But for many companies, the process poses a struggle that's difficult to overcome. Shooting too high or low in its client roster, underestimating the power of proactive marketing and underestimating the resources needed to achieve the next level can often drive that struggle.
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While inorganic growth — typically heralded by activities like opening new locations — may provide faster growth and a more immediate increase in your competitive edge, organic growth is the slow, steady friend you need to set your professional service firm up for long-term success. Despite the critical nature of organic growth, research from McKinsey & Company suggests that fewer than 30% of businesses regularly watch out for and evaluate the potential of new organic growth opportunities.
Maximizing growth from within the organization sets your business up for a strong, high ROI revenue model that minimizes risk. That's exactly the power organic growth strategies promise. While inorganic growth relies heavily on capital and the resources you have available, organic growth uses what you already have to increase your number of clients and boost business from your existing roster. Although there’s no set formula to follow, these five proven gems should set you firmly on the right path.
Understand Your Target Clients
No matter what kind of business you're in, having a deep, thorough understanding of your target market is a must. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most important strategies that any business can employ. Without a clear, detailed picture of exactly who will use and benefit from your services, how can you effectively reach them?
Data from a recent study conducted by Hinge Marketing showed that firms that conduct regular research on their target clients grow nearly 70% faster, with roughly 50% more profitability than firms that don't. By doing research into who your target clients are, you can gain keen insight into what makes them tick, and what will motivate them to seek out the services you offer. Start by talking to your existing clients. Ask them questions, not only to gauge how your services are meeting their needs, but also to discover information about details like:
Factors that play into their decision about where to obtain services like yours
What they would change about the experience if they could
How well your services help meet their needs
Narrow Your Focus, Define Your Niche
Although it might seem counterintuitive to limit the services you offer, consider this popular saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” It’s often used to describe someone who has a lot of skills, but isn’t particularly impressive in performing any of them. Why be generic when you could offer high-value expertise instead?
Now that you’ve got a deeper understanding of your target clients, it's an ideal time to concentrate your efforts on a niche within your field. This positions you perfectly to be the big fish swimming in a small pond. Focusing on a defined niche lets you reduce your marketing costs since they will be ultra-targeted. You'll also have less competition while enjoying an increased market share and ultimately higher profits. Research backs this strategy up, with about 75% of high-growth firms adopting a highly-focused niche as part of their organic growth strategy.
Develop a Specialty Within Your Niche
Depending on the nature of your firm or your niche, you might already have a specialty built right in. If not, you need to develop one. Sometimes called “differentiators,” these are the benefits or features that make you stand out from your competitors. For example, you might be a marketing consultant, but unlike others, you focus on marketing to architectural firms. That differentiates you from the crowd. It lets you position yourself as an expert and communicate your value to prospects considering your services. To be effective, your differentiator must be true, provable and relevant to prospective clients. If it doesn't offer any client benefits, it's not an effective option. For example, the number of charitable causes you support — while nice to know — isn't going to be a huge organic growth driver.
Make Sure Your Marketing Strategy Suits Your Target Clients
How does your target client prefer receiving information? By now, you’ve hopefully done your research to better understand your potential clients and should be able to answer that question. This allows you to allocate your marketing budget appropriately to get the most bang for your buck. If your target clientele is all digital, wasting resources on traditional marketing is highly ineffective. But by meeting your potential clients where they are, your efforts are much more effective. For many professional service firms, this means creating a balanced approach blending traditional and digital strategies.
In addition to matching your marketing techniques with your potential clients, you should be tracking your marketing. High-growth firms don't just track their marketing efforts, they also monitor 33% more variables than slow-growth firms, including brand awareness, social media engagement, website traffic and lead generation.
Let Your Expertise Shine
By defining your niche and developing your specialty within it, you position your professional service firm perfectly to become experts in that area. But if your potential clients can’t easily gauge your collective expertise, you’re missing out on a valuable commodity for driving organic growth. After all, your expertise is what your clients are going to buy into. It's the intangible, vital lifeblood of your firm. Increasing your visibility as experts may seem challenging, but with a little extra effort, your firm will become more visible within the digital realm. Some of the ways to do that include taking on speaking engagements, writing blog posts and articles and engaging on social media. By elevating your firm's visibility as experts, the firm's value increases in the eyes of your target clients. In turn, that can lead to organic growth and increased visibility, which can then lead to more growth.