These days the term “organic” seems ubiquitous.  Organic has come to mean more than the traditional dictionary definition. In this instance, I want to talk about organic growth as it relates to a natural process that is without direct intervention or influence. Looking at that definition, let me clarify further.

Organically Grown

Let’s say you decide to open a retail store. It could be just about any retail product, but let’s say it is a clothing Organic or Cultivated Clients Organic Growth Business Growthstore. Now if you locate that clothing store next to a large retailer, say a grocery store in a shopping mall, you will have the advantage that lots of people visit the larger store on a regular basis. In fact, there are literally thousands of people walking by your store each day to reach that grocery store.

Every week that grocery store puts out a sales flyer and advertises on TV and radio. So they keep a steady stream of customers, existing and new, coming in and as a consequence by your store.

You put up attractive display windows and an eye-catching sign. As the grocery store, customers are walking by they see your sign and displays. Every now and then one of those customers stops in to “just look” and many end up buying.

These are your organic customers!

Cultivated Customers

If you look back at the example above, you will see that the grocery store has been “cultivating” their client base. They have been reaching out via various marketing and advertising channels to reach their customers. They have radio, TV ads. They use weekly sales flyers. They do everything thing they can to continue to bring in existing customers and find new customers too!

Organic or Cultivated Clients

If you examined your business today, would you say you are growing organically, that is, waiting for customers to walk by and find you? Or are you cultivating clients? Before you answer let me give you more examples of how clients are cultivated:

  1. Referrals
  2. Networking in person (Chamber of Commerce meetings, Formal and Informal network groups, meetups, etc.)
  3. Networking online (Linkedin, etc.)
  4. Social media (Facebook Twitter, etc.)
  5. Trade and association memberships
  6. Sponsorships
  7. Print Ads
  8. Mailers
  9. Coupon offers, either electronic (like Amazon, Groupon, etc.) or print (Valpak, etc.)
  10. Websites
  11. Newsletters
  12. Books
  13. Articles and Columns
  14. Cold calling
  15. Event or Special Signage
  16. Sales flyers
  17. Public speaking
  18. Special events

These are some of the most common forms of lead (and customer) cultivation. So again I ask: Are your customers organic or cultivated or a mix?

Why Does It Matter?

You are probably asking why it matters if your customers are organic or cultivated. It matters because it helps you understand your opportunities to do more of what is working and to expand your customer base (revenues and profits) by trying some new ways to reach customers.

Let’s go back to the example above. What if you put out an eye-catching sign in front of the store announcing new stock or an end of season clearance or your “grand opening”? Do you think more grocery store customers will stop by? Probably—in fact likely—because who can resist a sale?

Small Investments Made Strategically: Time, Money and Talent

When we understand the mechanics and the strategy behind getting prospects to walk in the door (literally and figuratively), we have a better chance to get more customers. If we think strategically to identify our target customer and the call to action (what we want them to do when they walk in), then we can make reasoned and wise investments to reach new customers.

When I started my business, I didn’t have a lot of money around to spend on advertising and other cultivation techniques. In fact, the best resources I had to cultivate clients and make me and my business standout from the rest was what I am doing now: writing. I wrote articles for national, regional, and local publications then and I still do today. I got to share my expertise and experience with the readers and they got to know me. I also started writing books on topics that mattered to my target audience.

While your investment in your business may be additional time spent creating a newsletter, attending networking groups, speaking at community events, holding workshops or special events,  everything done well will add up to new business. Some things will require an investment of time, some time and money, and others of a combination time, talent, and money.

Match Your Strategy to Your Business — One Size Does Not Fit Most and Certainly Not All

In years past every business had a listing in the physical telephone book. Some businesses even had advertisements in the book. Many of those ads were what I would call “me too” ads. They said the same thing that every other ad for that type of business said. You could literally just move the names of one business and their contact info into a competitor’s ad and still be accurate as to what they did.

So, don’t do “me too” your customer cultivation activities. Just because your competitor advertises, don’t think that is the best thing for you to do. Every business doesn’t need a newsletter. Joining traditional networking groups may not work for your business. Think outside of the box! Study what others are doing and see what authentically fits for your business. Try a mix of organic and cultivated growth strategies and tactics. Track your results. Then do more of what works! Mix it up. Keep trying and you will find the right customers for your business.

 

Copyright ©2016 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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