We are talking all about business growth in today’s episode. We offer a webinar, called the 4 Ways to Grow Your Business in which Katina Peters, CPA, CGMA provides highly actionable steps you can take to improve profitability and growth for your own business. There are many strategies that are covered in this webinar and we are breaking a few of them down even further during today’s discussion. More specifically, we are looking at your UCD (Unique Core Differentiator), sales promotion plan and increasing the effectiveness of your processes within the business.
In talking to Katina during our intro, we discuss the newest addition to her family, Gabriel. We promised a picture, so here is little Gabriel.
What we cover in this episode:
- 1:00 – Intro
- 2:38 – What is a UCD?
- 7:08 – How can you develop or define your UCD?
- 8:30 – Benefits over features
- 9:56 – Sales Promotion Plan
- 18:13 – Increase effectiveness of processes within your business
- 29:18 – What efficiency means for your business
- 30:52 – Consider agile methodology
What is a UCD?
UCD stands for unique core differentiator and is also known as a USP, or unique selling proposition. We all know there is a need to set yourself apart from your competitors. A UCD is how you define what that is down on paper and ensure that everyone (employees, team members, clients, your community, etc.) knows what it is that truly sets you apart. There are three different kinds of UCD – actual, perceived, and created.
- Actual – This is something that is genuinely unique about how you do business. You have a unique service or product that no one else is providing.
- Perceived – A perceived UCD is how customers think you are different. This could be highlighted in your story, how you came to be as a business, or your mission as a company. Your service could be similar to others in the marketplace, but your perspective or how you deliver those services is different.
- Created – This is a differentiator that is developed in order to set yourself apart. It could be a new process or an entirely new product that you invent as something that no one else has done before. You create something to set yourself apart from your competitors.
How can you develop or define your UCD?
Sit down and have a brainstorming session. You can do this on your own or incorporate your management team or a coach or mentor. A brainstorm session will allow time to focus on looking at your services line by line and how you operate. Then, you can ask yourself if your services are run-of-the-mill or something your clients truly can’t get anywhere else. If there is already something different, you need to make sure you are communicating that effectively. You are the expert of your own industry and sometimes clients don’t understand how you’re different. You need to make sure you’re getting that message out there if it already exists.
If that UCD doesn’t exist, you need to think about how you can create something. Or perhaps tell a better story about how you’re doing things differently, better, or adding value in a unique way. Why would a client want to come to you? It is important to focus on what you are telling the world when it comes to separating yourself from other competitors in your industry. Why are you different? What benefits do your customers get?
Benefits over features
Focusing on benefits over features when it comes to communicating your UCD is an important consideration to spend time on as well. Take a look at your business and your services from your client’s perspective. You want to make sure you’re explaining the problem you’re helping them solve. And then, you want to focus on the benefit they receive from the process of working with you. Ask yourself:
- What are they seeing?
- What benefit do they get from the services you provide?
- What benefits would they get in working with you, specifically?
What does focusing on benefits mean? An example of this benefit-focused approach would be, highlighting the peace of mind one would receive in working with you, rather than the one meeting per month you offer with your services, which is the feature. Many times, we get bogged down in the features of what we are selling, even in a service-based business. Maybe you offer a consultation, one coaching meeting per month, entrance to a mastermind program, etc. Those are all FEATURES that the client receives. The BENEFITS would be improved health, less stress, more time with family, getting paid faster, the list could go on. The point is, you want to focus on the results your product or service will get for your clients.
Sales promotion plan
A sales promotion plan is any effort you’ve devised in which the ultimate goal is to increase sales of your product or service. It comes down to how you are going to execute on making sales and properly communicate the UCD that you have defined.
- Define your target audience. You want to start by determining who you want to focus on when it comes to sales. Who are your ideal clients? Do you know the demographic? Do you know where they go for information? Do you truly understand their problems? Listen to the Sales & Marketing episode of the strategic planning series for more on this topic. In that episode, we talk about a client avatar and offer a free worksheet that can help you determine who your ideal client is for your specific service or product.
- Define your objective in the sales promotion plan. Is it to increase traffic to your website? It could be to increase the number of leads in new clients or perhaps increase sales with current clients. If you’re not sure what your objective should be, there are four factors that affect your profit. Take a look at those factors and that could help you further define your objective if you do not have one top of mind. Your approach will be different depending on the objective you select.
- Determine your distribution plan. How are you going to distribute this promotion plan to your target audience? If it’s new clients you’re trying to obtain, you may need to focus on awareness through advertising, social media or other options. The distribution plan for that would be very different than expanding services to current clients. You should have contact information and regular contact with current clients, in which you would have the opportunity to explain the benefits of this new service.
- Your theme and messaging comes next. Branding should be top of mind when it comes to theme and messaging. Your UCD should be utilized and consistency is key. The goal is to be very intentional with every touchpoint you have with potential clients and current clients. This includes ads you’re running, sales copy (words you use on your website, landing pages, promotional flyers, etc.) your elevator pitch, sales process and scripts, just to name a few. Tell the story of how you’re different and what the benefits are to them in choosing your company.
Be clear about what are you known for and intentional about your communications. You can ask questions of your clients or employees. A great question is “If you had to sum it up in one sentence, what does our company do?” If you get different answers, that may be a sign that you need to change your strategy or be more clear in your messaging. We work with many very technical industries, like IT and legal, which means there may be educational components to teach clients about a part of your industry allowing you to highlight your UCD.
Increase the effectiveness of processes within your business
Another way you can grow your business that we are highlighting from the webinar is by increasing effectiveness of processes within the business. If you have systems that are clunky and manual in nature, any growth by adding accounts and people will only add a larger headache. Our aim is to continually streamline processes to reduce the amount of stress and hours needed to run the business and create cost efficiencies. We are going to talk about a few systems in particular and ways you can find and implement efficiencies.
As with many of the systems we are looking at, you’ll want to start by assessing the process your customers go through. If you are familiar with the traditional sales funnel on the right, you can take a look at each step of the process. Awareness – How do they first hear about you? Interest – How do they reach you? Decision – Do you have a phone call? What do you provide to them to help them make their final decision and push them to take action?
Then, you’ll want to assess what is your current volume? What are your goals? Will you be able to sustain this process when you reach your goals?
In looking at that process, are there any steps you can automate? There are many systems out there that can help automate your processes. The example we discuss in this episode is a newsletter signup. This would be considered more of a marketing process rather than sales, but we can automate this process. Looking at systems like Mailchimp or Infusionsoft can take many manual steps, and your time investment, out of these business procedures.
The ultimate goal is to make this process scalable. Can you still handle this manually once you get there? What are the steps it takes to get someone from awareness of your company to a sale? And then look at each step of that process to find ways to automate or make it more efficient so you can scale more effectively.
We are looking at this production step from a very similar perspective to the sales process above. These are all systems and require assessment of where you are now, followed by questions to look at where improvement may be possible. How are you producing the work and the fulfillment? Is there a more automated way to do this to make it easier? Are there better procedures you can put in place to increase efficiency? How can you leverage systems to do this? In keeping growth as the ultimate goal, procedures must be geared toward making things scalable. We also encourage business owners to look at their involvement in the production or fulfillment steps of the process and look for ways you may be able to delegate.
Accounting (Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, etc.) & Administration
Administrative processes can start to bog you down as an owner. There are ways to look at how you can make payments easier, both on the accounts payable and accounts receivable side. Another important consideration is the integration of systems. If you have six different systems, it takes more to keep up with administratively, so trying to integrate and eliminate as many programs or systems needed within your business operations will help. We discuss infrastructure, automation and integration in more detail in episode #07: Strategic Planning – Digging Deeper – Other Infrastructure.
In looking at your customer service process, we must again consider your customer experience, which wraps back into sales. It takes a lot to sell, so you want to make sure they are getting the best experience possible. The funnel doesn’t stop once you make the sale. You should be assessing this on a regular basis and asking questions. Do we need to make improvements? Do we need to integrate automation? Are there more touch points we could implement for improved satisfaction or maybe hire a dedicated customer representative where there wasn’t one before? Surveys can be helpful in determining areas for improvement here.
We talked about coming from the technician and transitioning to a business owner in episode #16 Running a Business Well is Different Than Being Exceptional at a Trade or Profession. As you grow and hire other people, there are different ideas about priorities or how services should be delivered. As a technician, your level of control is very high because you are completing all of the work. Before you grow to the point that you aren’t looking at everything, you must have a system of checks in place for quality control to make sure that is maintained. Not only from a customer experience perspective, but to protect your business against the liability of doing things incorrectly.
What efficiency means for your business
We have talked about Tim Ferris and the Four Hour Workweek in the past, but we want to highlight that idea of creating efficiencies to enjoy more time away from the business, or invest back into business development. This creates freedom and opens up your options.
“We want to build a business that we enjoy owning and working in and not letting it take over our lives.” – Katina Peters
In the growth phase, it can be difficult to find and keep that balance. We encourage you to ensure you’re actively seeking that out if it’s important to you. Integrate that into your plan!
Consider agile methodology
We have talked about the agile methodology in episode #17, Productivity and How it Relates to Growth and Profitability, so feel free to listen there for more information. In a business context, agility is the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways. Essentially, it comes down to adaptability and keeping an eye on your business and making adjustments as needed.
Delegation & decision matrix
As you grow and you’re relying on other people, you need to start giving them control. If you don’t, you become the bottleneck. What decisions are you comfortable delegating? There are some things you should NOT be delegating, so if you’re not sure how to split this up, we encourage you to talk to a mentor or coach to establish what that looks like for your business. After you’ve delegated duties, make sure that you put something in place and create understandings for your management team so they know what they can handle vs. what they can’t. This is where a decision matrix comes in.
In developing a delegation or decision matrix, some can be as simple as setting parameters. For example, establishing a dollar amount threshold allowed for purchases. There are other options available depending on the complexity of the work being performed, such as flow charts or other matrices. Whatever you decide to use, it is always best to keep as simple as possible.
We discuss business growth and our 4 Ways to Grow your Business webinar in today’s episode. More specifically, we are breaking down specific terms and strategies even further to complement the information provided in that webinar. We are talking about UCD (unique core differentiator, sales promotions plans and increasing effectiveness of processes within your business.
The first highlight from the webinar is the UCD, or unique core differentiator. We define what a UCD is, how to determine a UCD for your business and the importance of focusing on benefits rather than features.
We then look at the sales promotion plan and the components of putting together a successful promotion plan. You must define your target audience and objective, decide how you will distribute your promotion, and establish the theme and messaging for your promotion.
The last way to grow your business we detail in this episode is increasing the effectiveness of processes within your business. The specific systems and processes we dissect are sales, production/fulfillment, accounting, administration, customer service and quality control.
We then take a look at what efficiency really means for your business and its growth, as well as the importance of the agile methodology.
If you are interested in growing your business and getting more value out of your business long term, sign up for the free webinar! There is more information in that webinar and a great learning opportunity we are providing as a gift to you!
Links mentioned in this episode:
- 4 Ways to Grow Your Business Webinar
- Episode #5: Strategic Planning – Digging Deeper – Sales & Marketing
- #18:The Four Factors You Need to Take Control of Profit
- Episode #17: Productivity and How it Relates to Growth and Profitability
- Episode #07: Strategic Planning – Digging Deeper – Other Infrastructure
- The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss