The Inside-Out Growth Strategy

The Inside-Out Growth Strategy

While the launch of new products and services often captures a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, my experience in the business-to-business sector has taught me that a significant portion of a company’s untapped growth comes from less noticeable fronts.

Indeed, it is necessary to introduce new features and expand services over time but the quickest way to see results is to combat the frequent eye rolls when it comes to optimizing your current products and services offerings.


The Inside-Out Strategy

I’ve heard it many times, if you ask your route team, how can create a plan to drive more sales on their current routes, they will say, we need products. More products with more options, and more colors will help them get the customer more engaged, which will lead to adding more products, so the thinking goes.

But in my experience, you can drive significantly more ideal growth by focusing on getting your current customers to engage with your current products and services that they may not even be aware that you currently offer.

Surprisingly, there have been very few substantial frameworks for approaching this kind of work.

I came across an article written by Ken Rudin and he shared some insight when he worked at Google and with his insight, I drew a connection back to the textile industry. Here is what he wrote:

“I realized just how effective it can be to focus on improving the engagement of existing key features when I joined Google in 2015 to lead their growth team. At that time, the average Google Search user in the U.S. did only 12 searches per month. We wanted to encourage users to search more, because more searches = more opportunities to show ads = more revenue. 

Our analysis showed that searches whose results changed frequently (e.g. sports scores, weather, or movie times) were the stickiest searches—users who did those searches would repeat them often. But only about 15% of users were aware of these types of searches.

So rather than building new features, we focused on building ways to raise awareness and engagement with the searches we already had. We used several approaches, which together nearly doubled the number of users who did these types of searches—and translated into millions of dollars of incremental ad revenue.”

Surprisingly, before I stumbled upon Ken’s approach there has been  little substantial frameworks for approaching this kind of work.

How Current Offerings Outweigh the Benefits of Launching New

Already Proven

The most important service offerings are usually the ones that were built first. Once you get past a certain level of service, a lot of the new features of that service offering often just targets just a subset of users. So it’s a safer bet that you’ll drive more business impact by increasing engagement with current offerings that have already been proven and test by many customers over time.

Every Last Drop

Another reason to focus on existing service offerings is that you probably have not squeezed all of the upsell opportunities out of your customers, and therefore there is plenty of potentials to target.

When you first release a new product or service offerings, you’ll usually find that about 80% of the of your customers, the product or service offerings works well for but the other 20% doesn’t.

Some users may get stuck on the product, that they find it confusing or takes significant effort, and don’t complete give the new product a chance, which means they actually get 0% of the new product’s value.

We’ve applied the approach of focusing on increasing engagement with existing service offerings many, many times. Customer needs are always evolving, personnel changes, and therefore decisions can always change. I can confidently say that focusing on upselling to customers from either the marketing, service or sales team will drive more long-term ideal growth.

And in an economic environment where budgets and project lines are being cut, getting more impact from work that’s already been done is even more critical.

If increasing engagement with existing services and products frequently has more impact than adding new features, the next question is: How do we increase engagement for current service offerings in a structured, repeatable way?


The ARIA framework

The shares there are a lot of frameworks leading up to launching new features, including identifying user needs, defining solutions, and prioritizing them on a roadmap. But what about a framework for increasing the adoption of products and service offerings after they’ve launched?

I never had a good framework for increasing engagement with existing features, but then I found the ARIA framework.

The ARIA framework has four simple key principles: Analyze, Reduce, Introduce, and Assist:

*NOTE: ARIA isn’t a do it once and never again process. Instead, it’s meant to be an ongoing process—sort of like having an implicit “Repeat” principle as the last step of the framework


Principle #1: Analyze

First, you need to figure out which service offering or product to focus on.

That means you need to analyze your data to identify which of your products are most correlated with growth and more customer loyalty. I also like to focus on ideal customers that tend to be very profitable and customers that not only appreciate our services, but we are GREAT as providing a service for them.


Principle #2: Reduce

The first consistently effective way to increase engagement with a product or services offering is by reducing the friction associated with using it. This includes reducing the number of steps, reducing the effort to complete each step, and reducing how much we need to learn before we can really use it (i.e. reducing the “cognitive load”).

Is there something we can do on the front-end to make the transition even 1% more seamless.


Principle #3: Introduce

Reducing the friction associated with the service offering is critical, but it only solves part of the problem. It doesn’t matter much that you’ve been able to reduce the number of steps required, the effort per step, or the cognitive load if no one knows about the feature.

In this section, we’ll focus how to increase customer awareness of a service offering and motivate them to use it. A key point here is that I’m not just talking about introducing newly launched products, the colors, the variety of options. I’m referring to all you’re the big picture benefits because many of your existing customer don’t know much about them at all, and for your new customers, every additional service offering could be a brand new to them.  Just because they are already doing business with you in some capacity, don’t take any shortcuts.

Treat them like a prospect and share all of the details about why your service offerings is the best option.


Principle #4: Assist

There is a right time for everything. A right time to introduce a product is to introduce it in context, which means at a point when the customer is most likely to want to use it.

For example, upselling floor mats makes the most sense to promote before the winter season is upon us, not in the Spring.

Compared with a customer who is simply told about a product vs a customer who is told about a product when they actually need it is much more likely to use that product and convert.


The Thrill of Internal Sales

In conclusion, while upselling to current customers may not carry the same initial thrill as acquiring new clients, its cumulative effect on your business can be substantial, perhaps even surpassing that of new acquisitions. Neglecting the opportunity to upsell is like leaving money on the table. Whether it’s your service team enhancing sales or your marketing department running seasonal promotions, making the most of each customer interaction is crucial. By adding value to every visit, you ensure that these efforts are not only worthwhile but also potentially transformative for your business.

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