Find proposition pivot or expansion opportunities

1. Conduct customer development interviews to find the overlap between the services you provide, your team's capabilities, and your audience's challenges.

Call your customers and ask: What else are you struggling with at the moment? To begin, you can ask your customers the following broad questions: What do you feel is the biggest challenge we have helped you solve? What other challenges are you facing?  If I found a service or solution to help you with [challenge], would it be something you would evaluate? Then, ask relevant follow-up questions based on their responses. Pull-on threads that will help you get the insight you need. For example, if a business customer says a challenge of theirs is “converting more users who visit product pages,” ask them what they currently do, what has worked, and what has not.

2. Expand your capabilities to meet your customer's needs.

For example, if you work in the B2B sector: Your calls may uncover that your PR clients are struggling not only with getting high-quality blog content, but the time it takes to edit and polish it, and find suppliers. You can solve this problem by building an end-to-end editorial capability to ensure content is polished before delivery. You may design beautiful looking websites, but your clients want something that looks great and performs as a lead generator. You may need to expand your capabilities, so you can consistently deliver on both needs.

3. Identify shifting priorities by embedding yourself in social media, talking to other practitioners, and learning from your competitors.

Embedding yourself in social media. Listening to conversations among your peers is one of the fastest ways to find changes in the way they work. If several people express similar opinions about how something is being done, it is worth paying attention. Talk to other practitioners. Outside of business development, outreach is an excellent opportunity to make friends with and learn from other marketers, creatives, and senior decision-makers. For example, if you offer ad services to startups, make time to connect with in-house paid media specialists at other companies. Learn from your competitors. The best businesses are continuously testing new approaches and methodologies. Learn from them, take their lead, and adapt to new ways of doing things.

4. Respond to shifting market priorities with how you execute what you already offer, and new offers.

For example, if you are an agency working with clients, they expect you to be knowledgeable about shifts in the market, new technologies, approaches, tactics, and methodologies. Educate yourself on the shifts and changes within your market, and apply it to executing what you already offer and new offers. For example, after looking at the broader market, the digital PR agency Grizzle saw that a service that helps marketers scale their video content was in demand. In the context of content marketing alone, these challenges would not have come up in their client interviews unprompted.

5. Choose to expand vertically or horizontally, and deliver on those services.

You can expand in one of two ways: Broadening out into different service offerings, for example, SEO, for a content marketing agency. Serving new industries and markets. For either option, develop a slow and deliberate plan. A safe approach is to partner with suppliers to fulfil new business. This way, you can focus on business development, communications, and awareness to build a sales pipeline and validate early demand. Build out a team that can deliver on the services you choose to expand, along with leadership that can ensure a smooth operation and a stellar service for customers. Take a lean approach when starting. For example, Grizzle started expanding their services by doing things in-house and building out simple systems that allowed them to scale steadily, without sacrificing quality.