Four Key Drivers of Sustainable Success
At LENKER, we work with a conceptual model that helps us understand why businesses grow—or don’t grow. We pay close attention to four sets of factors—what we call growth drivers—that play important roles in developing effective growth strategies for our clients.
The four key drivers of business growth are brand, effectiveness, efficiency, and scalability.
If each of these aspects of your business is strong, they work together to promote organizational performance and growth. If one of the factors is underperforming, it may create obstacles to sustainable success.
Below, we’ll give you a breakdown of each of these drivers, suggest ways to optimize them in order to actually meet your business goals, and offer some important takeaways based on hard-earned, real-life experience.
It’s Never Just One Thing
Before we get started, it’s important to remember that these four factors aren’t independent; they’re complementary and interdependent.
When a business is growing sustainably, all four factors are working together, reinforcing each other.
For the same reason, when businesses fail to grow, or when growth stalls, the problem is rarely with one growth factor in isolation from the others.
It’s never just one thing.
Growth Driver #1: Brand
A brand is more than just a logo. It is a driver for all your business activities.
From the point of view of the market, “brand” describes the space you occupy in the minds and hearts of your audiences—what they think and feel about you, and how they’re likely to behave when doing so.
From the point of view of a business or organization, “branding” describes all your efforts to influence your audience’s perception of you, wherever your audience experiences your brand identity in the world (website, media, messaging, etc.).
Brand is a key growth driver simply because it is a headwind or a tailwind for all your business activities. A strong brand makes everything you do easier; a weak brand makes it all harder.
What makes a strong brand?
- Your brand’s DNA should be authentic, compelling, and present in everything you do.
- ~The more alignment you can get between what you believe about your brand, and what your various audiences believe about your brand, the better.
- Your visual branding and design should reinforce strategic brand messaging and expression.
- Your brand should be consistent across all channels and touchpoints, but also designed with enough nuance to communicate effectively to different audiences in different contexts.
Growth Driver #2: Effectiveness
“Effectiveness” describes a business or organization’s ability to successfully execute on their core value proposition. Marketers talk about effectiveness in different ways.
In the language of marketing funnels, it’s about how effective you are at attracting and moving audiences through your marketing funnel, and converting them to clients, customers, or subscribers.
In the language of customer experience, it’s about how effective you are meeting customer expectations, providing the value that they seek, and living up to your brand promise.
Effectiveness is also about how your business delivers value to itself—your ability to sustain a profit margin that allows you to continue growing by reinvesting in your business.
Note how closely related Brand and Effectiveness are—especially when you frame Brand as either a tailwind or a headwind for your business activities. A strong brand with clear messaging is going to be more effective at engaging audiences, whereas a weak one will make effective conversion more challenging.
What makes for effective marketing?
- An ironclad understanding of how (and why) audiences come into contact with your business, and the actions you want them to take at every stage of the relationship.
- Clear, easy to understand, and uniquely-framed value propositions for each audience
- Testing and learning in order to maximize marketing ROI. Put another way: strategic measurement-optimization feedback loops.
- ~Once you have a handle on your engagement and how it’s trending, use those insights to inform your digital decision-making.
- ~Messages and calls-to-action that are “working” for your brand should be reinforced, things that are not resonating with your audiences should be trimmed back.
Growth Driver #3: Efficiency
“Efficiency” is about achieving outcomes or goals while minimizing work and effort.
For a business, it’s primarily about having the right division of labor and resources within your organization to do the work that needs to be done, while minimizing cost, waste, time, and effort. Are your teams configured, and the work effectively managed, so that your business is making the best use of their time and talents?
One way that efficient work is configured is by determining what work is best done in-house, and what work should be outsourced to third parties. So questions about outsourcing fall under this category.
What makes an efficient organization?
- Efficient organizations start with structure.
- ~A clear, well-defined org structure can help to ensure that all marketing efforts are aligned with the overall goals and objectives of your business.
- ~It also allows for clear communication and accountability among team members, which can help to increase productivity and job satisfaction.
- An effective org structure can also help to identify areas where you may need to invest in additional resources or tools to support your team’s efforts.
Growth Driver #4: Scalability
You can think of scalability as a type of efficiency.
A scalable business is able to maintain its effectiveness—its ability to execute on its core value proposition—even in the face of exponential growth.
How do they do this? By adopting strategies and processes where it actually takes less effort to deliver each additional unit of value to the market.
The default situation is the other way around—new growth adds demand and complexity that places new stresses on your business. inefficiencies accumulate and become bottlenecks; sales outpace operations; quality is sacrificed for quantity; workers feel exhausted trying to keep up; customer fulfillment and satisfaction decline ….
Lots of businesses grow fast and then stall, or collapse, because they never figure out how to scale.
What does a scalable business look like?
- A scalable business is one that plans for growth.
- ~Anticipate future demands and plan for them by investing in infrastructure, technology, and talent before you become overwhelmed.
- You’re set up for scalability when there’s nobody on your team who is truly irreplaceable.
- ~This sounds terrible, we know. But truly scalable businesses have structures, processes, and tools in place to support the work of the work.
- A scalable business adopts tools that allow team members to focus on strategy, as opposed to being bogged down in tactical execution.
- ~Adopt processes and workflows that use data to learn from experience and optimize for performance over time.
We mentioned in the introduction that the four growth drivers—brand, effectiveness, efficiency, and scalability—shouldn’t be thought of as independent tracks to follow in your pursuit of business success. The drivers are connected; they influence each other. The reality of your situation is more complicated than the picture we’ve painted above, but understanding the factors at play is a critical first step towards designing an impactful growth strategy.
If you’re looking to get unstuck, we’d love to help you think it through. Contact LENKER to see what we could do for your business.