Business women talking, business communication success

Talking to Your Customer Through Their Five Stages of Business Growth

I recently asked members of my Facebook group to think about ideal clients, particularly if they have more than one – it’s something I’ve written about before in Business Writing – Do You Know Your Reader and How to Attract Their Attention?

Someone in the group, thankyou Holly, pointed out that her ideal clients tended to be the same people but at different stages of their journey. This is probably true of lots of us so I thought it worth exploring here.

Who is buying your services

Think of it this way – simply…

If I choose to niche as a web copywriter, I can promote my services to small business owners but may also market to web developers because they’re the people who spend all their time in this space. Two different ideal clients.

If, however, I’m going to support florists, I’ll look at their lifecycle – what they need as their business grows. Simple websites at start-up and planning sessions to manage their content will be followed by blogs, articles and newsletters as they grow and a bigger website to draw more people to them. I’m supporting the same client through different situations; the people haven’t changed but their concerns have.

While I always ask you to first focus on who you’re talking to, the second consideration will then be

– how can you help them now?

This is influenced by where they are in their business growth and the decisions they will make because of the concerns facing them at that moment.

The Five Stages of Business Growth

So, what are the five stages of business growth?

1. Existence

As a start-up, many companies have a very simple structure where one, or only a few people, are doing everything. The focus is likely to be on getting more customers while spending as little as possible. If you are supporting new businesses you should understand their needs and show you can help them with these concerns – knowing that they won’t have much money to spend on your services.

Focus your message:
Your message will likely focus on helping these businesses to reach more people and bring in more money as these are a new company’s prime concerns. What can you offer that will help your client when they are facing these problems?

2. Survival

When a business has found its market and is able to provide a consistent level of service to its customers, balancing expenses with income to keep things going, this is survival. Some businesses never leave this stage – independent retailers will often support their local community and not try to reach any other level because this suits them.

At this stage the priority tends to be keeping customer levels up and managing demands on time and resources, your message to these customers will depend on if they’re happy staying here or looking to get to the next stage.

Focus your message:
Your message might focus on how you can help busy owners find more time or provide tools for their business development; alternatively, you may have ways to help increase profits or generate higher-value sales. Think about what your ideal clients are looking for and how you can help.

3. Success

A company will be at the Success stage when they are thriving, you would expect to see a strong brand presence and consistent profits. Many businesses at this stage are bringing more employees on board including those at a management and director level who can support the company without the owner’s involvement.

With this level of security, again, many businesses will stay here – safely supporting their staff and shareholders with established processes bringing in consistent profits and cash flow.

Focus your message:
So, how will you talk to successful businesses – what can they still need? This will depend on their plans for growth. Those who are happy to maintain their position will still need to ensure they remain visible and create loyalty. How will these businesses increase value to their existing audience? By varying their offering, ensuring amazing customer service, or maybe supporting them with additional benefits? How can your services support your client when they are in this space?

And companies who are looking to move to stage four might be exploring new ideas or inspiration for growth – new products, new markets, or new partnerships. Is this something you can help with?

4. Take-off

At this stage, companies are looking for a way to achieve next-level growth quickly and how to finance that growth. How would your ideal client manage this stage of growth?

Focus your message:
Are your ideal clients looking for huge growth, they may be making changes to their organisational structure or financing, how will you support this? Can you provide advice, reassurance, opportunities or ideas? What will this really look and feel like to a company with big decisions to make?

5. Resource Maturity

This level is about consolidating growth to create a stable position while keeping the things which are good about the business. The company has greater responsibilities now, alongside the increased resources and opportunities.

Yes, maintaining profits and customer satisfaction will be significant drivers, but these are unlikely to be achieved through the status quo. Expectations change and markets develop, even the biggest organisations need to have an eye on what the rest of the world is doing.

Focus your message:
These businesses are creating structures which run independently, but they’ll likely have gaps? Do you have a specialism they will only need occasionally? Or expertise which can be added to a pool of resources when short-handed? Here your message is likely to be reassurance, expertise, confidence and flexibility – you can drop in and fix their problem with ease when you’re needed.

Focus your communication on your people and their needs

While this post has focused on business lifecycles and is therefore most helpful if you are serving businesses, I hope you’ll see that the same message is true of personal customers – you need to understand their needs where they are now.

While it is true that a student will need a pension one day, a financial advisor will recognise that their focus is more likely to be on day-to-day living, saving up for a home or finding a way to afford an adventure.

Thinking about your business and products

Focusing on your favourite customers – the ones you love – are there ways you can help them in different stages of their journey?

If you can find simple, cost-effective ways to help them earlier than you do now you’ll have an established relationship by the time they need your current services.

And, if you have a great working relationship now, what are they likely to need in the future that you can develop to support those next steps – keeping them by your side.

Understanding who you want to support and how you can make their life better is key to communicating your value to your customers. Is this something you need help with? You can book a free discovery call here.