If you lead or work at a B2B company, chances are growth is top of mind heading into 2023. With economic uncertainty ahead, how can you set your business up for success?
The truth is, recessions can present unique opportunities for market share gains and growth, but only for companies willing to play offense.
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive deep on time-tested growth strategies and emerging tactics to power bottom-line expansion even in turbulent times.
Whether you need to identify new avenues for growth, optimize conversion rates, or maximize customer lifetime value, this advice will have you covered. Let‘s get started.
Why Growth Matters Now More Than Ever
It‘s natural to scale back when times get tough. But data shows growth-minded companies capture 5-10% more market share annually during downturns.
So why does growth matter so much, especially when facing potential economic hurdles?
- It signals a healthy, thriving business. Continued growth demonstrates you offer something customers truly value.
- It boosts enterprise value long-term. Growth that translates into higher revenues and profits increases company valuation.
- It creates competitive advantage. Claiming more market share leaves less opportunity for rivals when conditions improve.
- It enables reinvestment. Revenue growth provides fuel for investing in innovation and capabilities that will drive future growth.
For all these reasons, Gartner found that 72% of CEOs still prioritize growth over defensive strategies like cost cutting.
McKinsey agrees, advising companies to maintain a growth mindset because emerging stronger post-recession requires "playing offense through the downturn."
So how exactly can you drive growth in today‘s B2B landscape? Let‘s explore.
What Does Growth Really Mean?
At its core, business growth refers to an increase in company size, revenues, customers, market share, and profits over time.
But to set effective strategies, we need to look at specific growth metrics:
- Revenue growth: Year-over-year increase in total sales revenue. Benchmark ~10-15% annually in healthy businesses.
- Customer acquisition: Number of new customers/accounts added in a period.
- Retention rate: Percentage of customers retained over time. World-class B2B retention rates exceed 90%.
- Customer lifetime value (LTV): Total revenue per customer over the entire relationship. Increasing LTV is key.
- Market share: Portion of total market sales your business generates. Rising share signals growth.
- Profitability: Growth in margins and earnings over time reflect operational efficiency supporting expansion.
Tracking these KPIs provides visibility into progress and helps identify potential areas for improvement. Now let‘s explore some of the top ways B2B companies drive growth.
8 Powerful Ways to Stimulate Growth
While specific growth initiatives differ across industries and companies, these are proven high-impact approaches:
1. Enter New Markets and Segments
- Expand into new customer demographics, verticals, use cases, or geographies.
- Requires market research and targeted positioning.
- Example: Paylocity moved from SMB to mid-market clients.
2. Boost Conversion Rates
- Optimize marketing and sales processes to convert more prospects.
- Improve content, sales enablement, digital experiences.
- Example: Airtable developed highly targeted content for key roles.
3. Focus on Retention and Lifetime Value
- Keep existing customers longer and sell more over time.
- Gather feedback, enhance account management, upsell/cross-sell.
- Example: New Relic‘s customer advisory board drove a 20% increase in LTV.
4. Launch New Products or Services
- Meet evolving customer needs with enhanced or complementary offerings.
- Could be organic product development or via acquisition.
- Example: Shopify‘s numerous new releases, including Shopify Fulfillment Network.
5. Pursue Strategic Partnerships and Acquisitions
- Complementary mergers, acquisitions, or partnerships to gain new capabilities, technologies, distribution channels, or customers.
- Example: LinkedIn‘s acquisition of Glint expanded capabilities in employee engagement and performance.
6. Improve Operational Efficiency
- Streamline operations and reduce costs to improve profitability for strategic investments.
- Example: SAP optimization program generated over €1 billion in savings.
7. Optimize Pricing Strategies
- Adjust pricing models and tactics to capture additional revenue without losing customers.
- Example: DocuSign boosted ARR by $100M through optimized enterprise pricing.
8. Double Down on Innovation
- Prioritize innovation and R&D investments to develop high-value solutions customers will pay for.
- Example: 3M consistently invests ~6% of revenue in R&D.
Most growth-focused companies pursue multiple approaches simultaneously – across marketing, sales, product, operations, and beyond.
Now let‘s look specifically at growth marketing strategies making an impact today.
Growth Marketing Strategies for the Modern B2B Company
While company-wide alignment is needed for growth, sales and marketing initiatives have an outsized impact by generating pipeline and acquisition.
Here are some of the most effective modern marketing strategies and channels to incorporate:
Content Marketing & SEO
- Strategic content marketing attracts and engages prospects earlier in the buyer‘s journey.
- Content like blogs, guides, case studies, and videos builds brand awareness and trust.
- Search Engine Optimization ensures content surfaces prominently in organic search.
Marketing Automation & Lead Nurturing
- Sophisticated marketing automation platforms track prospects and automate multichannel nurturing campaigns.
- Personalized messaging at scale until sales-ready.
Multichannel, Personalized Campaigns
- Coordination across channels (email, social media ads, site messaging, etc.) to deliver consistent, tailored messaging per individual.
Social Media & Influencer Engagement
- Cultivate brand advocates and engage social communities relevant to your audience.
- Work with influencers and industry experts to expand reach.
- Incentivize existing customers to refer peers. Current customers are powerful advocates.
- Example: Pendo doubled its sales qualified leads with a referral program.
Retention and Loyalty Focus
- Prioritize customer satisfaction, address concerns quickly, solicit feedback to improve retention and lifetime value. Gather feedback, address concerns quickly.
- Example: RingCentral‘s customer engagement program decreased churn by 150%.
The most effective marketing mixes personalization and automation with compelling content and digital experiences. Continual testing and optimization is critical – more on that next.
The Key Role of Optimization & Experimentation
In growth marketing, data should drive every decision. By constantly measuring performance across activities, marketers can double down on what‘s working and improve or eliminate what‘s not.
Testing different messaging, offers, experiences, and go-to-market strategies is crucial.
Some ways to optimize:
- A/B test content headlines, formats, calls-to-action.
- Try different lead magnets and gated content offers.
- Experiment with pricing and packaging.
- Tweak email nurturing tracks and cadences.
- Monitor sales funnel drop off and adjust targeting.
Modern marketing technology stacks like CRMs, marketing automation, and analytics systems enable this agility and optimization.
But optimization isn‘t just running tests. It‘s about continually reviewing insights and being willing to shift strategies to achieve goals. Growth requires flexibility.
Tactical Tips to Boost B2B Growth
Here are some key takeaways to drive growth at your company:
- Maintain a growth focus even in uncertain times – claim market share from struggling competitors.
- Pursue multiple parallel growth avenues – new segments, improved conversion, expanded retention, etc.
- Leverage modern marketing techniques – personalization, automation, and analytics are game changers.
- Let data guide decisions – constantly track KPIs and optimize efforts. Testing is critical.
- For SaaS/tech companies, leverage product-led strategies – generous trials, viral loops, and referrals can fuel customer acquisition.
- Alignment across the organization is key – growth comes from collectively prioritizing it.
Companies that adopt an agile, optimization mindset and execute multi-pronged strategies across the customer lifecycle will find growth in 2023 and beyond.
With so many strategies and innovations to consider, executing B2B growth in today‘s climate may feel daunting. But staying focused on the metrics, being nimble, and keeping the customer at the center is the recipe for rising above uncertainty.
You‘ve got this! Now go ignite growth.