THE BLOG
07/01/2013 06:14 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2013

The Most Popular Ways to Grow Your Business

People often ask me about the keys to success in growing business. I generally rely on the keys I have found to be successful in growing my businesses and those of the wonderful companies I have been fortunate to be able to call clients. I decided to mix things up a bit, and I spent some time visiting websites and social media to find the most common activities.  Since they are so common, these concepts must be working successfully:

Avoid specific customer testimonials
I keep making this mistake. I tell my clients to share customer testimonials that include the executive's name and their company. Recently, an attendee at one of my keynote addresses approached me after the session and raised an interesting point: "Won't the competition now be able to contact them directly?" Great point. The last thing we would want is our competitor to know the company and person at our client who is so incredibly satisfied with us that they provided a quote or video expressing their satisfaction.

Sell first, ask questions later
We might be seeing the reversal of all consultative selling approaches. In our busy world, nobody has time to answer a bunch of questions while sale executives diagnose customer needs. Besides, everybody loves being on the other end of an artful sales pitch of text-based bullets in PowerPoint. If your customer wants to buy something, take their money - don't worry about confirming if it is the right fit for them. If it ends up going wrong, it's not like they can share their negative experience with the free world in seconds, right?

It's all a numbers game. Choose quantity over quality
Buy lists, lots and lots of them. Simple demographic data is all you need to find customers who are facing a serious challenge you are good at solving. Once you get that list, be sure to send them regular, automated communication talking about your company, your services, and features and benefits. Leave nothing to chance. Use social media to ensure that you are active at least every 12 minutes. The goal is to get as many followers as possible.  Chris Brogan posted something recently that illustrates how to master social media. While you are at it, be sure to establish a presence on as many sites as possible.  Don't deliver utility (as Mitch Joel might suggest), just ask people to like you or share your stuff. It's a whole lot easier than effectively targeting the clients for whom you can have the greatest impact.

Use the term "Full Service" so that people know you do everything
With the emergence of specialization, many customers crave a "full service" vendor. That must be why so many companies describe themselves as offering full-service. You can feel free to substitute the term "full spectrum" or "broad array" if you want to be different. Be sure to use as many ambiguous and gratuitous terms as possible to confuse your potential client. They'll have to contact you just to figure out what it all means.

Don't leave anyone out
Targeting the right market is so 2012. Instead, be sure to cast as wide of a net as possible. Who cares about attracting clients for whom you can make the greatest impact? Instead, focus your efforts on attracting the masses. Your team has plenty of time to contact and qualify each of them. It's ok if you have never worked with clients who own pet stores, that doesn't mean they couldn't have a need. The cool part is that if you find one outlier who does some business with you, you can then spend a bunch of money trying to develop that anomaly into a new market for your company. Focusing on the right clients to waste less time and effort and maximize value to the client is overrated.

Putting this to work
If these seem ridiculous, they are. You may even want to try the exact opposite of these examples. But, based on how frequently I see each of these approaches, you might think that people think these are all a good idea.  What silly examples did I miss?