3 Pillars of a Winning Strategy: How to Drive Growth Over Time
When laying the foundations for profitable growth, short-term thinking can only get you so far. Capturing your most accessible opportunities – the low-hanging fruit – may enable immediate growth, but it is often not sustainable down the line. At Blue Canyon Partners, we believe a comprehensive growth strategy considers a spectrum of opportunities, from quick wins to broader strategic transformations. To do so, you must…
- Create value for customers, to deliver short-term growth
- Enter adjacent markets, to drive medium-term growth
- Define your future vision, to enable long-term growth
In our work, we have discovered B2B businesses that simultaneously build and implement growth strategy at all three levels find the most success. One of our clients that supply the agriculture industry had suffered from the adverse effects of low commodity crops prices in recent years. With price fluctuations being difficult to predict, our client was seeking a strategy that would allow them to endure market volatility and drive sustainable, long-term growth. By exploring growth opportunities at all three levels, they were able to create a strategy with both near term and far-reaching impact.
Companies can make an immediate impact on their top line when they discover and implement new ways of creating value for their customers. Taking advantage of new value creation levers doesn’t necessarily require major operational overhauls or sweeping business model changes; even modest changes can make a big impact. Our agriculture client was struggling to differentiate their premium offering in a market where low crop prices had driven down prices. Rather than making the same arguments around product quality as their competitors, we recommended our client adopt a unique value proposition centered around increasing productivity for their customers. By creating a message that resonated with their direct customers’ greatest motivation, our client was able to quickly make improvements to their sales and marketing effectiveness. Creating value for your customers – by helping them increase prices, grow share, or lower costs – represents the most immediately accessible path to deliver growth.
Enter Adjacent Markets
Alongside value creation opportunities, B2B businesses should always be exploring adjacent markets. Adjacent markets can be forays into new products, applications, or customers, and represent opportunities to drive medium term growth by expanding the business opportunity. While adjacencies exist outside one’s core business, businesses can leverage their current capabilities and strengths to enter attractive markets that are a good strategic fit. After researching adjacent markets on behalf of our agriculture client, we discovered strong opportunities in geographies outside of the Midwest – their core market. These new geographies, while requiring significant investment in new go-to-market strategies, planning, and resources, represent markets that will enhance the company’s revenue streams.
B2B business leaders should not lose sight of the long-term while looking for opportunities to create value or enter adjacent markets. A vision for the future describes a company’s ideal state 3 to 5 years down the road; a projection which considers changes in the market that could transform how you do business. Having a clear vision for the future allows your company to take the initial steps on the pathway towards realization, which is key in avoiding harmful disruption and capitalizing on future trends. Having debated a few, different future visions with our agriculture client, they eventually aligned on a future vision that was aspirational, attainable, and enabled by major market trends. Our client’s future vision, which involves becoming the industry leader in sustainability, is certain to grow more and more pertinent given increasing focus on agriculture’s environmental impact. Just as importantly, our client was able to disseminate a clear future vision across the organization and focus on initiatives to achieve it.
It’s imperative that B2B businesses have a comprehensive strategy that considers growth at all three levels: the short term, medium term, and long term. The upfront planning done now will save you and your team exponential time in the future. Instead of scrambling to come up with ideas when it’s already too late, your company will be aligned, equipped, and moving in concert toward a common goal. By simultaneously creating value, entering adjacent markets, and defining your future vision, your business will be building the foundation for lasting profitable growth.