Finding Hidden Growth

01 Jun 2012|Bart Michels

Right now “growth” is a worryingly tentative subject for many CEOs and CMOs. It’s tough enough to stop your business declining, let alone somehow maintain current levels of demand.  And yet shareholders and analysts demand growth, employees crave it and you only need to look at Aviva to see what happens to those that fail to find it.

Marketing was born to deliver growth. Now is the time when really good businesses and brands shape strong marketing strategies, act decisively and become great by building growth when all those around them are struggling to find it.

So how do you create this elusive, desirable entity? As with most things, it starts at the top. To begin with you need a clear enduring and powerful idea of why you exist and what success looks like for you in a growth- oriented world. Secondly you need a “Map of the Possible” to plot what is and will become realistically achievable in your market, with your capability. Next, a plan of current and future rich opportunity spaces identifying the easiest wins and how to capitalise on them. And lastly a mobilising creativity which gets your people on board to help make it happen and connects immediately with consumers.

Question where the best answers for growth lie: “Where could I focus more deeply to get better returns? Could our business do even more with the same resources, or better still with less? How can I create a meaningful difference when my market is commoditising? Who doesn’t buy us today who might in the near future? What if we became indispensible for those times when people buy us or need us most? Which part of my portfolio should I cull and which should I support full blast? How can I free up cash to make the bets that will pay back in spades?’ And so on.

Sounds familiar? Each of these can be turned into a growth strategy if you have the benefit of insight. Take these for inspiration.

Snickers honed in on men to replace Yorkie as the male snack of choice with substance and taste, in the same way that Galaxy ousted Flake for girls savouring the indulgence of chocolate on more everyday occasions. Yahoo realised if they couldn’t win search clicks, they could win eyeballs with mail and addictive entertainment news. Saga realised that by knowing more about Third Agers’ holidays gave them the right to sell them many other things too.  And who knew there was growth to be found in the age old orange juice category? Innocent did.


The question is what helped them and could also help you? It’s firstly knowing that growth is vital and needs a good platform with inspiring direction to get started. It’s seeking insight that will show you how your market works and interacts with others. Insight that gives you the value and size of available spaces, and takes you on a journey of discovery as these come to life in brand plans and campaigns..

The upshot is without a plan for growth, much is directly and indirectly lost. Clear growth plans in themselves signal positive ambition and brand energy in a way that gets you noticed by your customers, trade and city alike as a brand of substance and purpose. Our people love being part of a business that has plans to grow. The buzz from engaged consumers and employees with a social network at their fingertips is priceless. And, of course, the financial rewards that growth brings to the bottom line always put a smile on the shareholders’ faces.


Written by Bart Michels, Managing Director & Head of Global Clients, Added Value UK

If you’re interested in growing your brand, talk to us about Growth Finder – an end to end process that imagines, identifies, crystallises, creates and delivers opportunity for growth.  If you’d like to get in touch with Bart, drop him a line at

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