Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) dominate the business stage. Even though big corporations have more visibility worldwide, these smaller companies play a crucial role; they contribute immensely to the global economy, income and employment.
Impact goes beyond office walls and domestic borders when companies start internationalising and becoming more successful.
Companies that become international report higher turnover growth, but this big step comes with many internal and external barriers. The most common challenges when it comes to growth are related to finances, identifying foreign business opportunities, making the right contacts in designated target markets, lack of managerial time and staff expertise, but also the disconnect between the marketing and sales teams.
So how should businesses approach the challenges of growth and internationalization?
In this article, we provide practical marketing advice that can be applied right away and have an immediate impact on the challenges that seem to be blocking companies in their growth journey. For more in-depth guidelines and suggestions, please download the full B2B Marketing Guide to Growth.
1. Understand your financial metrics and the inbound marketing approach:
Studies show lack of finances is the reason most small businesses have a hard time growing. Not knowing where your investments yield the highest return can be confusing.
Understanding and choosing the relevant metrics for your business is crucial to growing. As a scale-up, you want to make sure you have a predictable source of revenue and know the costs associated with generating that money.
There are two metrics all companies should know and follow rigorously, as they can predict if a company will succeed or not.
1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) tells you how much you need to spend to acquire a client. It can determine a company’s profitability by looking at the difference between how much money you can receive from customers and the costs of receiving them.
2. Customer's Lifetime Value (LTV) is the projected revenue one customer will generate over the course of their relationship with your company.
For more detail on the financial metrics, download our full Marketing Guide to Growth!
Search Engine Optimisation
Let’s start with online visibility and how you get people to your website. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the tactics you use to influence the results shown in search engines when someone looks for something in their query. SEO is just a small fish in a big pond because you need to put in place more comprehensive marketing strategies with specific goals and objectives so your SEO efforts aim toward something tangible.
Common marketing goals you want to achieve through SEO are brand awareness, increased organic traffic on the website to attract more visitors with relevant content, convert them into leads and eventually turn them into your clients.
You might think ranking in Google searches is all about money. Well, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are various factors Google considers. While their algorithms change and confuse you each time a little bit more, generally the most important factors taken into account are the relevant keywords, the length and quality of your content, how optimized your website is (response time, for example) and how often you post relevant content.
In theory, it might seem easy but once you get into all the nitty-gritty it becomes overwhelming. So make sure you tackle this with someone who knows what they are doing. Keep in mind that because all these efforts are organic and you aren’t pouring money into Google Ads, results may not come fast. SEO is a sustainable, long-term strategy that will bring lasting benefits in time.
Content marketing supports sustainable growth, whereas paid ads might create a buzz around your business but the hype may last only for a few days or weeks.
Whether it’s in the form of a video, an infographic, a social media post, an ebook, a blog article, an email or a white paper, content is everywhere and it always transmits a message. After all, there wouldn’t be any SEO or Social Media marketing without the content. When we speak of content marketing we refer to the use of that content to reach specific marketing goals.
Content marketing can support your growth strategy by increasing your brand awareness and giving you an authority in your industry. It can support customer conversion, increase website traffic, improve SEO, and convince leads to turn into customers through very specific pieces of content.
A very good example of content that can serve your content marketing strategy in different ways is a blog. Again, as this is an organic approach, it takes time to put the wheels in motion. But fear not; consistency and quality will bring results!
2. When companies fail to identify business opportunities
Opportunities come in different shapes and sizes. For organisations, it can be even more difficult to pinpoint growth possibilities.
For many B2B companies, events and networking are a big part of their business that brings in new connections and potential customers. But what happens with the hundreds of contacts you meet during a two-day event where you exchanged business cards? Do you remember who was who and each person’s profile, pain points, and the problems you can solve for them?
How to use CRM in your growth strategy
It has been proven that successful marketing strategies have a human-centric approach. Understanding consumer behavior, be it for B2B or B2C, is crucial for your growth.
- Integrate all your new contacts in one place
- Create a hub for collaboration
- Build scalable processes to ensure growth
A CRM is incredibly powerful if used at the highest capacity, and while bigger companies rush to embrace it, smaller enterprises usually avoid CRMs because they think they are not big enough yet, and that it’s too difficult to implement and maintain. Perhaps they even opt-out for financial reasons. If you aim high, you have to take more responsibility for your growth. The good news is that there are free tools out there that can satisfy the needs of a small enterprise without breaking the bank.
3. Dealing with limited resources and management challenges
You guessed it! When we speak of limited resources we mainly refer to the single most defining success factor: people. Taking on the internationalization challenge can turn into internal chaos, especially if you start dealing with remote teams that seem overloaded. Perhaps the single best advice to consider is preparing to take on new countries and departments by putting structures, tools, and processes in place that are easily scalable.
The next step might be the outsourcing of certain departments or combining internal teams with outsourced ones who know how to structure the chaos.
Fast solutions: outsourcing and automation
It’s very common that a small company will not have a 10-person marketing team, but will have hundreds of extra hours of marketing work that needs to be done. Reducing the workload can help managers focus on things that generate growth, such as focusing on sales or the internationalization process of the business. At the same time, the marketing engine continues to work and keeps generating more leads for your sales team.
If you want to find out why to outsource and what to automate, download our in-depth Marketing Guide to Growth!
Sales and marketing alignment: teamwork to maximize growth
Sales and marketing teams work towards the same goal, but sometimes find little common ground on how to get there. Supporting each other doesn’t come as easy as it should either.
So, how can you make sales and marketing speak the same language?
- Start by aligning the technology. - both teams should have a single customer view. (marketing automation tools and CRM systems should be integrated)
- Establish a common language - for example MQL (marketing-qualified lead) and SQL (sales qualified lead).
- Focus on the goals and use the same metrics.
- Implement mutual processes - set expectations so everyone is aware of the processes and what happens when someone does not follow them.
Book a 15 minutes call with one of our digital strategists who can help you get started with inbound marketing.