PSA Leadership Book Recap | The Curve Ahead – Part Two

December 16, 2015
The Curve Ahead book summary:

Why do most growth companies stop growing? These fast-growing businesses are the engines of economic growth and wealth creation, but most fall behind the curve before reaching their potential. Executives are surprised when their business models mature sooner than expected, victims of the familiar S-Curve. Tragically, once-promising companies are often sold by investors too ready to throw in the towel. So what can leaders do to keep moving forward?

To sustain growth, companies need to discover their next S-Curve. But few have a repeatable process for uncovering new opportunities before their core business stalls. The Curve Ahead offers a practical approach to sustaining long-term growth. It describes how growth companies can build innovation into the rhythm of their business operations and culture using design thinking, prototyping, business model design and other Innovation Power Tools.

This book will help thousands of mid-sized companies stay ahead of the curve and discover the path to unlimited revenue growth.[1]

[1] The Curve Ahead by Dave Power

PSA Book Club Discussion Part Two

The book club continued its discussion of The Curve Ahead by Dave Powers with a lively debate on how to maintain pipeline coverage and making investments in measurable customer acquisition programs.

Book Club members began by sharing their approaches for acquiring new customers:
  • The core of our business model for customer acquisition for the first 30 years or so of our existence had to do with existing customers and referrals. That is still at the heart of what we do - between customer retention and then referrals for acquisition.
  • Our efforts are pretty grassroots: focused on education and information as our primary path for customer acquisition. For example, this year we implemented a formalized lunch and learn program where we targeted specific verticals, products, and bringing in our targets to our location to our demo room or show room. This has been a catalyst for bringing people in and to be able to look, see, and touch and get familiar with the company, the technologies we are working in, and in which we have expertise. In addition, demonstrating the talent and strengths we have behind our services.
  • The important thing to recognize and identify is buyer habits and behavior is changing dramatically. Millennials are going to the website/internet to find everything. Doing blog posts, making a robust website, finding out your target market and speaking to them – the first thing they are doing is going to the internet and searching for that stuff.  You want to make sure you are where your customers are and that they can find you.
Some of the attendees explained specific tactics, tools and conduits for customer acquisition. These approaches varied and covered many areas of the business from education to marketing.
  • We have gone down the road of radio advertising, which is a risk because it takes a bit of time to see that work. We made a major investment in that this year and it took us about seven months to see the return.
  • Another way we have used investments in education is our e-newsletter program. We have worked on building a list that has begun to create more investments for us as well.
  • Trade associations, local organizations, sponsorships, and reaching out into new vertical segments through those relationships require a strategic approach. We are measuring what we are hoping to get back out of it.
  • Our primary approach is focused upon working through our account managers to work with their existing clients for referrals. They are the go to people to find out which clients can help push us to more clients.  That has probably been our best means of producing new clients.
  • One of the big things we invested in last year was our website and using that as a tool. We have a relationship with HubSpot; there are a lot of resources and tools behind the scenes (information about coming to your website, sending out information, putting together documents we can send out to people as they come visit our website).
  • Another thing we started doing as a team, our leadership team is writing blogs; we each took different topics and started writing blogs that were impacting our customers and geographic region – then packaging and sharing with people that we work with regularly. We have done a bit of that – using social media as a marketing tool.
  • Our marketing department has spent a lot of time putting together a cleaner package, so that every time you have a project you are not having to redevelop the proposal because we spent the money and time making sure we are ready when we have a great opportunity coming or a customer in need.
Naturally, the conversation on tactics transitioned into a higher level discussion dedicated to strategy and measurement.
  • We are not trying to be everything to everyone. We do not have a model where traditional marketing programs are a focus of ours. We have a select group of clients that we want to do business with in certain vertical market segments. We do have some that come to us that fall in our laps, but as far as requiring new clients we have a strategic approach to try to get to those new clients through our account management team. That is what we concentrate on – just educating them and getting them participating in the local vertical affiliations, and they know those industries the best, so they are the subject matter experts and then applying the technology we have to be a good solution to help them with their business.
  • There are dozens of tactics to be found online and then focus on your strategy on how to convert that traffic into identifying and developing relationships with them. That is a customer acquisition program – we have an elaborate marketing plan that takes a lot of infrastructure, time, investment, and optimization. You cannot just build it and then walk away. You have to implement and test it: colors, typeface, etc., to provide the most optimal web experience for that traffic to convert/funnel them into a place where you want them to be.
  • We want to convert prospects into known companies/individuals that we can reach out to, identify, and develop the relationship with them. This info is shared with our account managers.  We need to make sure those individuals are trained with the messaging (they know what to say), they know how to get funding, how to develop that relationship into buying and purchasing, etc.  It is multifaceted.
  • There are many important things to measure: what am I spending money on, what is working, what does not, etc. We review daily what and where we are spending money, how much it is costing us, how are those channels converting into buying and paying customers, and what does it turn out to be.

See Part One of the Leadership Book Club Discussion:

[1] The Curve Ahead by Dave Power