Insight

Five strategies used by fast-growing businesses

April 2020


Over the last decade or so, professional services businesses have experienced enormous change: buyer behaviour has changed, and it has proven difficult to keep up with rapid technological advances. However, during this time some businesses have performed exceptionally well, growing three times faster than the average business.

To understand this, Hinge Marketing’s High Growth Study 2020 analyzed more than 1,000 professional services companies. In this article, we look at five growth strategies that growing businesses are using that you can also deploy to turn your business into a high-growth business.

  1. Become a digital disruptor

    Business use of digital and content marketing techniques has increased dramatically in the last three years. Indeed, half of the participants in the Hinge High Growth Study 2020 study reported that they have published blog posts, networked on social media, and used email marketing. While these marketing techniques are useful in themselves, on their own they are not enough to drive extraordinary growth.

    David C Baker, author of ‘The Business of Expertise’, tells us that giving away generalized expertise freely attracts opportunities to charge for applied expertise. High-growth companies are skilled at this. They invest more effort in creating high-value, high-quality content, examples include:

    - case studies
    - downloadable content, gated so that users supply contact details before gaining access
    - podcasts
    - research reports.

    In short, digital and content marketing allows you to scale your expertise and drive your online lead generation

  2. Research your target markets frequently

    High-growth businesses are less concerned about threats such as changes in buyer behavior, and unpredictable markets, because they continually research their marketplace. Businesses that know their markets can anticipate threats.

    David Burrus, author of ‘The Anticipatory Organization,’ believes that for businesses to grow and thrive, they must anticipate problems before they happen. Businesses can do this by researching and analyzing target markets and internal business data frequently. Statistics show that businesses that do this grow faster and are more profitable.

    Having done your research, there are two ways in which you can use it. First, to inform your branding and marketing strategy, examples of this might include brand tracking studies, client experience research, and marketplace visibility analysis. Second, you might research issues and topics that are relevant to your target clients and then publish that research as high-value marketing content.

    Ultimately, frequent research reduces your risk and gives you a competitive advantage because you are better informed than your competitors.

  3. Invest in workflow automation

    While high-growth businesses worry less than others about the future, there is one thing that concerns them: automation – they are 60% more likely to see automation and artificial intelligence as a challenge they need to face in the next five years. An explanation for this nervousness is that high-growth businesses are more aware of it and are, thus, more likely to embrace workflow automation technology. But what is this technology?

    In an interview with Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike, creators of a collaborative work management software platform, he told us of his aim for professional services businesses to boost productivity by streamlining their project management processes.

    We have also collaborated with Bill.com, a software company that uses innovative technology to streamline how businesses pay invoices and send invoices for payment. Experience shows invoices get paid quicker, freeing up time for professional services businesses to focus on offering advisory services to clients.

    Deltek is a technology company that helps professional services businesses to connect and automate the project lifecycle. Deltek recently hosted a panel discussion about what’s necessary to drive growth in today’s market. The discussion revealed that high-growth businesses drive growth by exploiting technology to automate their project resource planning.

  4. Make use of marketing technology

    Our High-Growth Study 2020 revealed that high-growth businesses are twice as likely to prioritize marketing technology and automation. Scott Brinker, Vice President of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot and founder of the Martech East and West conferences, believes that, while there is a potential risk of conflict between marketing and IT departments, businesses should promote collaboration to build success with marketing technology.

    New streamlined and automated marketing processes allow businesses to make their expertise more visible to prospects. This probably explains why, in the last three years, content creation has become the top marketing priority.

    High-growth businesses are finding new channels and formats for their content too. Our study shows that businesses invested:

    - 28% more effort in publishing primary research, resulting in 30% more impact
    - 21% more in case studies, with 30% more impact
    - 30% more in podcasts, producing an incredible 136% more impact.

  5. Develop a skills advantage in marketing and sales

    The talent war shows no sign of abating, but high-growth businesses worry less about losing key people.

    Businesses looking for rapid growth may need to differentiate their employer brands to attract the best people. This is especially true of marketing – as more companies invest in marketing technology, new skills will be in demand. Marketing departments in high-growth businesses have more highly skilled researchers, networkers, strategists, and data analysts.

    Our study shows that creating this skills advantage results in a stronger marketing impact in nearly every marketing technique tested. High-growth businesses reported 30% more impact from publishing research, and 33% more impact from social media networking, just two examples of the impact from this skills advantage.

Read more about how high-growth businesses grew three times faster than the average by downloading the High Growth Study 2020 Executive Summary.

About the author:

John Tyreman
Washington DC, USA

For the past six years, John has conducted extensive research at the Hinge Research Institute, a division of Hinge that publishes primary research focused on what drives extraordinary growth in professional services.

He has personally reviewed the perspectives of over 15,000 buyers and sellers of professional services and has helped hundreds of professional services organizations use data to influence brand and marketing strategies.

Passionate about market research, analytics and using data to drive decisions, John’s research is an essential part of Hinge’s work, and is used to solve client problems, identify trends, create content and establish industry benchmarks. 

jtyreman@hingemarketing.com

Author: John Tyreman - Hinge Marketing, Washington DC, USA