How we doubled our turnover in a year
Last week saw Liz and Adele working hard to wrap everything up not just for the end of the tax year but the end of our financial year. I’m not naturally a numbers person - I try to stay away from their spreadsheets and just ask for the headlines - but as we looked at the bottom line for 2018/19 even I was excited. Because in the last 12 months we’ve managed to almost double our turnover.
How? It’s not as simple as one straight answer. I’ve always said that there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. So if you’re looking for some quick fix that will help you double your turnover in the next year I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. As with most things in life, you have to combine skill, hard work and a little bit of luck. To be honest, we’ve mostly just been plugging away and trying to do our best. But there are some factors that I think have definitely contributed to our growth.
Goals are funny things. They can seem a little arbitrary. “In the next 12 months we’re going to increase our turnover by X%.” Well ok, so now what? The thing is, sometimes just having a focus like that helps you to achieve it. You’ve got something to shoot for. You can break it down into monthly targets and start setting other supporting goals to help you reach it.
For us, creating a target tracker Google Sheet which is shared with the whole management team has been really encouraging because we can see at any time how far we have to go to achieve our monthly target. We also WhatsApp each other when a new job comes in and celebrate these little wins together. Having a common goal for the whole team to focus on has, I think, definitely been an important part of our success.
Takeaway: The first step is not figuring out how you’re going to grow but setting yourself a tangible target that is not unrealistic but is ambitious.
(Re)defining our audience
As a marketing company, we understand the importance of having clearly defined client personas. We also understand that these can change over time, either organically or by design. As we’ve grown we’ve naturally found ourselves attracting the attention of bigger clients. In turn we’ve worked hard to get to know these clients and their needs and have aspired to attract more like them. We’ve adjusted our messaging and the focus of the content we produce, and have even created new packages to better serve these businesses. And as a result we’ve been gaining more of the types of clients we enjoy working with and building long term relationships that are ultimately more profitable.
Takeaway: Make sure you have clearly defined client personas and that you revisit these regularly to ensure you’re giving potential clients what they need.
Creating targeted campaigns
Last summer we ran a month-long campaign that kicked off with a blog post entitled Why blogging should be the heartbeat of your content marketing strategy. Over the next four and a bit weeks we shared statistics, testimonials, how to posts and videos all with the purpose of gaining new blogging clients. And it worked. Not just during that month and the couple of months beyond that - we’re still getting more enquiries in for blogging now than we used to before that campaign. By being clear about the type of business we wanted to gain, we were able to focus our efforts and achieve more than we would have with a general push for more work.
Takeaway: identify which product or service you’d like to sell more of and be specific in how you market it, setting clear goals so you can measure your progress.
Building our reputation
At the risk of sounding boastful, the quality of our work has always been good. We’re not getting more business because our writing has suddenly improved. But what’s the use in being good if people don’t know about you? That’s why we’ve not only continued with our usual brand awareness building strategy - consistent social presence, value-adding content on the blog and so on - we’ve also stepped up our efforts around PR. In the first three months of this year we’ve been featured in the Bristol Post and Bristol 24-7, and I’ve been named on two Top 100 lists, which in itself has generated publicity.
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to shout about your skills. Enter awards and send press releases. Show the world why they should be working with you.
Increasing our capacity
When you’re a B2B service business, growing your turnover also means growing your workload. Over the last year we’ve spent time building and training our writing team to increase our capacity. But we’ve also put a lot of time and effort into operations and project management to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Thankfully Liz and Rosie are incredibly organised people and, with the help of a dazzling array of Trello boards and Google Docs, have created a system that not only works efficiently for us but for our clients.
Takeaway: You’re not just selling a product or a service but a whole experience so make sure every part of your client’s journey works well, from onboarding to after care.
I’m no businesswoman; I’m a journalist and a copywriter. So one thing that I have prioritised since launching Rin Hamburgh & Co in 2016 is getting support and advice to help me make good decisions for the business. Thankfully I have managed to build a brilliant team of exceptionally talented people so the internal support is taken care of.
But we have also had help from external experts. For example, we have attended workshops and worked 121 with advisers from Get Set For Growth. I catch up regularly with my industry mentor, who runs a large marketing agency in London, and have also been working with a coach to help me keep myself on track as well as the business. And next week we’ll be starting on the Natwest Accelerator programme.
Takeaway: You can’t do rapid growth in isolation. External perspective is always valuable and personal support is a must, especially for business leaders.
As we enter our new financial year, we’ve already got some exciting new projects lined up and I’m confident there will be more. But we won’t be resting on our laurels. We have big ambitions as a team and that means continuing to work hard to serve our existing clients better and find more businesses to help. Who knows where we’ll be this time next year!
Want to read more? Try this - How to make the most of your marketing budget