Marketing is not enough to drive growth

Marketing is not enough to drive growth

Michael Haynes, Founder and Principal Consultant at Listen Innovate Grow, had a few words with CanadianSME about the right marketing tactics for businesses. Also, he shared his views on why business innovation is not just a fancy, big corporate concept but also an essential strategy that is critical for SME growth. 

For over 20 years, Michael has worked with companies ranging from micro-businesses to large corporates across Australia and Canada to develop and implement customer strategies and programs to drive business growth.

Passionate about helping to create truly customer-centric organizations, Michael is also an avid traveler and is regularly invited to be a guest speaker and panelist for an array of SME and start-up events and podcasts across Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Michael is available as an expert guest speaker for multimedia engagements, podcast appearances, and online workshops. Please get in touch via the contact form for bookings & availability


Why “content vomit” can sabotage opportunities (and what business clients are really looking for)?

“Content vomit” refers to the massive amount of information that product and service providers have flooded onto the internet. While often from trusted sources, the large and varied quantity of information is often confusing for business customers. According to Gartner, over 44% of B2B buyers struggle to navigate through it all. Business customers are seeking: 1) “Sense-making” -they want to know what information is relevant for them and then should focus on 2) “AIR”—Advice, Insights and Recommendations which will provide them with guidance and a “roadmap” as to how they will achieve their objectives


How random marketing tactics might be hurting your business (and why marketing is not enough to drive growth)?

Random tactics may be simply “throwing money down the toilet”. In a B2B context, marketing tactics need to be focused on the B2B buyer (i.e. those decision-makers and influencers making the purchase decision) and what activities, tools, and sources they use in their decision-making.

Driving business growth in a B2B context requires 3 elements:

Strategic Marketing: that is both data and buyer-driven

Business Innovation: making new introductions and/or improvements across your company based on market/business customer needs

“SenseMaking Sales”: focusing on providing a roadmap as to how your company will WORK WITH the client to achieve its objectives.


What is the reason why focusing on the customer alone is insufficient to succeed in B2B and what are the 3 components of a business growth strategy?

In B2B, it is not sufficient to understand the business customer (i.e the company you are serving), you must also have an in-depth understanding of the buyers (i.e. The decision-makers that make the actual “Yes” or “No” decision and those who provide input to/influence the purchase decision) so that your marketing and sales efforts can be tailored to these individuals, their priorities and how they make purchase decisions.

There are 3 key activities that must be undertaken to have sustainable profitable growth which I call the Listen Innovate Grow B2B Framework.

Listening: Having an in-depth understanding of :

  • Your company (i.e Goals, Vision, Key Strengths, Capabilities)
  • “The Market” (i.e  Your target industries and geographic markets, key competitors in terms of trends, developments, performance)
  • The “Business Customer” (i.e understand Who buys, How they buy, Why they  buy, What they expect from you)

Listening on these 3 levels tells you WHERE TO FOCUS

Innovating: Making new introductions and/or improvements across the business in alignment with market, customer, and buyer needs

Growing: The approaches (or pathways) by which you will grow your company such as:

  • pursuing new customers,
  • new markets,
  • selling more to existing customers,
  • providing new offerings

As well as how you will manage your people, finances, and changes that are occurring in your company as it grows


Why business innovation is not a fancy, big corporate concept but a strategy that is critical for SME growth?

Business innovation is about making new introductions and/or improvements to your company across 1 or more of the following areas:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Organizational Structure
  • Processes
  • Marketing

Studies have shown that high-growth firms that achieve 20% or more growth over a 3-year period innovate in multiple areas. However, previous studies have shown that over 50% of Canadian businesses with less than 100 staff innovate.


On a final note, what advice would you give to the small businesses that are struggling to survive and thrive in these challenging times? Start with your existing clients and customers. Make a list of those customers who are:

a. your “raving fans,

b. account for the largest portion of your revenues.

Meet with your management team, review this list and identify:

  • Who are the key decision-makers
  • When have you last had discussions with them (eg. virtually or in-person)
  • What are their key priorities, challenges?
  • What are their key goals?

Set up meetings with the decision-makers at these key clients.

LISTEN: to Learn as much as you can about their goals, priorities, and objectives

Following these client discussions, conduct workshops with your senior management team and relevant members of your cross-functional teams. Identify how to best serve and support these key clients and their urgent challenges and priorities.

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