by Tiina Wilén
Over the years, I and my team at Avenue have helped many businesses with their digitalization strategy and game plan. Things got even more acute when the Covid hit, and we HAD TO digitalize everything. Luckily things are getting back to a somewhat normal stage now, but what makes me happy is that digital thinking is here to stay.
So what exactly is digital thinking?
What happens when a business starts on its digitalization journey?
And: “Do I really have to…?”
Digital thinking is to prioritize your business’ digital activities. It’s a choice, just like growth is a choice (not everyone chooses growth, and that’s all fine, but our clients DO choose growth). Digitalization is equally much about strategy as it is about tactics, the tools that you use to transform your business to be more digital.
The 3 main areas of Digitalization are:
- Business Model Innovation
- Demand Generation
- Operational Efficiency
“Where do I even start?”
The most critical function in any business is getting customers. While many experts tell you to ‘build an amazing website and the clients will come’ or ‘just be yourself and the money will roll in…’ it’s not that simple. What is simple, though:
Once you figure out the right way for you to attract prospective clients and turn them into paying customers and clients, your business is officially live. Without customers, no business.
That’s why we start with the most critical function of your business: getting clients.
What is Demand Generation?
Demand generation is the process of creating awareness and demand for your products or services. It expands your audience, generates urgency, clarifies your solution, and transforms interest into action. And it aligns 3 very important functions of your business: marketing, sales, and product/service development.
Demand generation is nothing new, it’s what growth marketers like us have been doing for a long time. However, it’s not only about traditional marketing, it’s an umbrella that covers multiple activities and aligns them to bring the results that every business wants: Return on Investment.
The sooner your customer acquisition system works, the sooner you and your team can spend your time on other activities, such as delivering amazing service and products to your clients, and developing the business. And of course, having a life.
Here’s one thing I have learned after being a growth coach and an entrepreneur for a long time, and talking with thousands of alike: nobody (almost at least) starts a company with the sole desire to SELL their stuff.
Most people, likely even you, start their business because they have a passion for their thing, be it design, wellness, leadership or helping people in any way they can.
So sales is likely not your favorite thing either.
Also, HUNTING for clients is most likely the LAST thing you want to do, no?
“What to do?”
Well, engage in demand generation activities.
That’s why, when a business decides to start a digitalization journey, they often start with the most critical function: sales and marketing. Hence we always build the Demand Engine first and then continue to other digitalization activities.
The Demand Engine has the following elements:
- the client profile
- the lead flow
- the lead routing
- the lead qualification
- the sales mechanism
- the nurturing mechanism
- the content system
- the metrics
Business Model Innovation
Many businesses realize that they need to, sooner or later, digitalize their business models.
“What does that mean, exactly?”
“Does it mean I need to start selling online courses?”
Well, maybe, if that’s your thing, but there’s a whole other world besides selling online courses, even if the e-learning industry is still booming, and is expected to reach a massive 1 Trillion USD by 2028. So yes, if you want to add online education to your offer mix, that might be a great choice.
But there’s more!
You could sell digital downloadables, templates, online coaching, VIP membership, affiliate products, e-design services, monetize your blog with ads, mood boards, e-commerce, and so on…
Business model innovation is a constant process that keeps your business relevant, modern, and profitable. It consists of processes and designs for new, exciting revenue models and an improved business structure that can lead to massive gains.
“So, should I start with Business Model Innovation, ie transforming my business to have digital revenue streams, or with Demand Generation, ie sales and marketing of my current services and products?”
The answer is yes, and yes.
If you already have a business model that is SCALABLE, meaning you can and want to scale up your capacity and grow your business, then it makes sense to focus on Demand Generation.
Equally, if you don’t have any sales or it’s not consistent, we definitely need to focus on that.
But if you already have sales and marketing working, we might engage in the transformation work focusing on creating digital revenue streams, and then move on to digitalizing your sales and marketing.
So, like everything in business… it depends.
How about Operational Efficiency?
Operational efficiency is something we build all along, for example, by systemizing your sales and marketing and packaging your offers to be easy to buy, easy to sell, and easy to deliver.
But, on your growth avenue (see what I did here?), there will be new needs once you hit the next level of growth. You need to start thinking about how your systems work together, how your team uses the systems, and what kind of operational processes you need to build around all aspects of your business, not just for sales and marketing. This requires a deep understanding of the business infrastructure and multiple skilled team members and vendors.
We approach all digitalization and business growth plans with the following steps:
- the Process
- the Technology
- the People
You need to investigate and decide what process you are going to improve. You can’t start from the point of technology, because we don’t want to implement technology just because; we want to implement technology and tools to improve processes in our business so that we can grow and scale.
When we improve systems and processes, we want to know if a technology or tools could be used to remove the manual work. That’s why when we can add a certain technology, and we know what process it is going to improve, we will look at the right technologies that do the work.
The people component is critical because no technology is running by itself. Even if a tool handles a task automatically, someone needs to be responsible and take ownership of the process, the outcome, and the tools used. So it’s critical you transform your team members to be aligned with the digital transformation of your company.
Summary: Small Business Digitalization Game Plan
At Avenue, we help small businesses with digitalization and growth. We work with non-tech companies that are somewhat lost with all things digital, but they understand the value and want to embark on the digital transformation journey with a clear strategy and action plan, and have experienced consultants and coaches to help.
In our world, each client is different, so each plan is different, and the end results are different. And we keep them secret. If you would like to discover working with us, download the service & pricing guide and get in touch!