You’ve got an idea, and now you’ve launched your startup. Running a business is hard, but growing a business is harder. So how do you grow and scale your startup to a multi-billion dollar IPO?
Let’s be realistic..
- 20% of new startups fail within the first 2 years
- 45% of new startups don’t survive the 5th year
- 65% of new startups fail during the first 10 years
- Only 1% of startups become a unicorn
Growing a business doesn’t only mean numbers in revenue, size of customer base and your team. It also means whether your business is sustainable until exit and can withstand the many challenges that will appear when the numbers compound. If you don’t have a growth strategy for your startup, you’ll probably need to start thinking about it.
In this article, I will show you 8 strategies to boost the growth of your startup.
Table of contents:
- Understand your target market and audience
- Emphasise your unique value proposition
- Analyse your competitors
- Content marketing
- Referral programs
- Optimise SEO
1. Understand your target market and audience
By target market, this means a certain group of people your product is aiming for. It could be a certain demographic, age, interests or behaviour. Understanding the market landscape will help you come up with a compelling solution which will resonate with your intended audience. This is an important step to growing your customer base which will help grow your startup.
Here are some ways that will help you understand your target market and audience better:
- Describe your ideal customers: In terms of age, gender and demographics. Who are you trying to sell to and why your product will appeal to them? This could be targeted to their interests or behaviours as well, and if it meets their needs. If you can identify what your customers are struggling to achieve, or find a certain task challenging, show how your product can relate to them and fill in that gap.
- Gather user data and analytics: You can send out surveys or questionnaires to understand the preferences of your target market, what they like to see or what they dislike about a present product. This helps you understand the direction of where you should be building your product or solution. You can also use Google Analytics to see which demographics or locations of customers respond to your ad or email campaign. This forms the basis of whether your marketing strategy is working as well and helps you improve and iterate to target specific groups and meet their needs.
- Leverage social media platforms: To understand your target audience, you can see what type of accounts or content they follow. This will give you a better idea of what their interests are, and how you can create more compelling content to increase engagement and allow your audience to share with their network. This will help your startup gain visibility and boost growth in the right direction. You will also need to test what works or not to come up with a growth strategy that works best for your startup. Every startup is different. That’s why you need to be specific about targeting the needs of your audience and how your solution is better than your competitors.
2. Emphasise your unique value proposition
A unique value proposition (UVP) shows the distinctive benefit or advantage to your customers that sets you apart from your competitors.
- If you can show clearly the UVP of your product, this will increase the growth of your startup. This means that you clearly understand your targeted audience, know what they need and how your product fills that gap.
- The UVP also sets you apart from your competitors and how your solution is better. If you can communicate the direct benefits and advantages to address your customers’ pain points, this will help them solve a long-term problem that might be present for many years. This also helps you build a loyal customer base and brand loyalty as your customers trust your product will help them make their lives better.
- Having a compelling UVP will also help you engage better with investors. They usually look for startups with high growth potential and how different it is compared to current solutions that are already out there in the market. It will help them understand better what your startup is trying to achieve and if you have that product-market fit tailored to your targeted customers. They don’t want to see something that only lasts for a while, but rather something that can grow and scale into something bigger in the next few years and is sustainable.
3. Analyse your competitors
There will always be competitors in the market trying to do the same or similar things to you. Therefore it is important to analyse your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This will help shape your growth strategy in differentiating yourself from your competitors.
- Research your competitors: Use search engines to see who has already built products similar to yours. Go through blogs and articles in the industry you are targeting, and get an understanding of what’s already in the market so you don’t repeat what they do. Instead, focus on what’s missing and how you can address that gap with a simple but powerful solution that your customers don’t want to miss out on.
- Monitor your competitors: Keep up to date with any changes or directions they are heading. A useful tool is tona, which helps you monitor your competitors’ websites and newsletters all in one place. It gives you daily or weekly insights of any changes to your competitors. This can help you develop effective strategies to grow and improve your current business plan.
- Talk to your customers: This is a direct but effective way of understanding why your customers use a product or switch to a different one. This helps you know what their experience was like and how you can offer an alternative solution to improve their needs.
By understanding the weaknesses of your competitors, you can turn them into opportunities. This includes:
- Identifying new niches in the market
- Coming up with new ideas for better marketing
- How to price your product within the competitive landscape
- Being more specific in addressing your customers’ pain points
- How your customers interact with current product and retention rates
4. Content marketing
Content marketing is a powerful tool for startups to grow and engage with their audience. By creating valuable and relevant content, it helps startups gain visibility in the industry and also build trust with potential customers. Diversifying the structure of your content marketing can help bring in customers from different areas and widen the reach. This will help your startup grow in followers and customers, as well as business partnerships and opportunities.
Content can come in different forms:
- Short-form content: This can be 1-minute youtube shorts or Instagram reels. It helps you build trust with customers and maximise engagement. Short-form content also helps direct audiences from different areas to your website or startup, increasing traffic and gaining visibility.
- Long-form content: This can be in the form of blog posts, articles, carousels and videos. With a range of content you offer, this helps your audience understand better what your startup or product is. Allowing customers to give feedback and seeing engagement from analytics can also help you understand which direction your startup is heading and how you can improve growth strategies to scale your startup.
- Partner with influencers: As people love to buy from people, it helps empower your brand’s credibility. Influencers usually have a large and loyal customer base, by partnering with them, you can help reach a wider audience and gain visibility. Influencers can review your product and share their thoughts on it, in which is a powerful way of generating awareness and driving user acquisition.
5. Referral programs
Referral programs are a great way of retaining customers and building brand loyalty. As customers love benefits, rewarding them with discounts or exclusive deals if they send someone new to your product can help your startup grow. When your customers enjoy using your product, they will talk to their friends or family about it. This means you will gain an increase in potential customers and audiences who could be interested in knowing more about it. This ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing is an underrated yet powerful strategy as it encourages customers to share their positive experiences, recruiting new customers but also retaining your loyal customer base.
Rewards for each new user registration could be in the form of:
- Receiving bonuses for each new signup
- Free giveaway of a certain product
- Exclusive discounts and deals
6. Optimise SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important as it drives organic traffic to your startup' website. By optimising the content and website structure, you can improve your startup’s search engine rankings and visibility. SEO will take a while to work, be patient and you will see results which give tremendous returns.
Here are some ways how to maximise optimisation:
- Use relevant keywords: Research every possible keyword that your startup and product correlate to. This will help customers who are searching for a solution navigate to your website, which helps you gain visibility and reach a wider audience.
- Build high-quality backlinks: For example, if you are writing a blog post about building a pitch deck, hyperlink it to another article or product on your website. This helps enhance your SEO and also allows customers to stay on your website for longer as you offer exactly what they are looking for.
- Plugins: There are lots of free and paid plugins in the market which can help you optimise your website’s SEO. This includes Chrome extensions such as SEO Minion and many more. Find one which best helps your startup grow.
In short: connect every possible keyword or backlink to your website and make them connect to one another.
Partnering with other businesses in the industry can be fundamental for your startup’s growth. This creates new collaboration and access to new customers, increasing your brand’s credibility and value. It can also open opportunities for co-marketing campaigns and cross-promotions, expanding the reach of your startup and generating mutual benefits. Fostering partnerships can help you build strong relationships with different partners in the thriving startup ecosystem. You can use this to leverage shared resources and expertise to achieve greater growth and success.
Public Relations (PR) is crucial, but can be quite challenging if you are in the early stages and have a limited budget. It can help shape your brand’s value, increase media exposure and gain visibility. By engaging in media outreach, you are making sure your startup is gaining valuable coverage in relevant publications.
How to leverage PR:
- Show your product launches
- Highlight successful fundraising rounds
- Spotlight any key achievements and milestones
If you know how to play your PR strategy, this can enhance your credibility and attract new customers and investors. It also helps you build a positive brand image and be in a strong position within the industry.
Diversifying your strategies can help you maximise your startup’s growth potential and scalability. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, rather it’s about testing, improving through feedback and analytics and seeing what works best for your startup. I hope these strategies can help you navigate the startup landscape better for sustainable growth.