There’s an on running joke in the business community – it goes something like this. “Overnight growth can happen, it just takes 15 years’ work first.”
But thanks to the modern age of high-tech startups and ubiquitous technology, that old joke may be losing some of its appeal. Now there really are stories of companies, thanks to the power of the internet, growing from practically nothing to international sensation overnight.
Take Feedly, for example. Back in 2013, Google announced that it was shutting down its RSS reader (for reasons that still remain largely unknown). Feedly recognised the opportunity and launched a big marketing push to attract old Google news readers over to its platform. The push worked, and before long Feedly has transformed itself into the premier news feed service on Android, providing millions of users with the ability to curate the news they receive.
It wasn’t long before Feedly had grabbed the lion’s share of the old Google Reader market, and managed to use the closing down of the Google service to nab more than 9 million customers, almost overnight. According to data from Hubspot, Feedly more than tripled its user base from four million to 13 million and sold all of its “Pro” accounts within a day.
So what’s the lesson here? The lesson is always to have an eye out for opportunities in the marketplace. If a company is about to shut down a popular service, make sure that you’re ready to provide it cheaper and better, just like Feedly did. Above all, be quick: any delay will allow competitors to enter the space and beat you to the prize.
Most analysts seem to think that rapid growth is only possible in the world of computer software and online marketing. But many companies with physical products have also experienced what we might call exponential growth, all thanks to digital innovation.
One such company is Fire Rock. It manufactures fireplaces, masonry products, chimney, fire pits and outdoor ovens. And like other companies that operate in the real world with dangerous equipment, it invests in health and safety outsourcing solutions to help keep its workers safe. For a long time, Fire Rock operated like a normal business, outsourcing tasks that were core to its business and focusing its workers on the area where it could add value. But it soon realised that it could massively boost its appeal by advertising its products through Pinterest, a photograph sharing site. Soon it began optimizing its Pinterest presence, and after a short period of time, saw the increase in its coverage reach 330 percent.
The lesson here for businesses? The moral of the story is that it is important to know what exactly you should outsource in your business. FireRock could have gone down the generic social media marketing path, but much of that investment would have been a waste of money. Instead, it recognised that it had to focus its efforts on the one channel which was most valuable to its core business: Pinterest. Because it was in the market for visual goods, a photo sharing website was ideal for it to make an impact.
Rogetech is a company that makes IT equipment, like scanners and barcodes. They knew that they were in a saturated marketplace and that unseating their competitors would be difficult. What was worse, they were starting from scratch: they had no domain authority, no email list, and no followers on social media
In 2011, the firm got to work. The first thing that it did was start writing a blog covering all sorts of issues in the IT industry. They poured a huge amount of effort into the blog, producing something that was both useful and information. In December 2011, they had 77 unique visitors to their site. After a month of blogging, that went up to over 600, then to over 2,200 and by the third month they were up to 3,454.
Public Domain Pictures
What the company realized was that they didn’t necessarily have to pay a fortune for paid search. Instead, all they had to do was produce content that people found genuinely interesting. One of the company’s most successful blogs was entitled “What is the Barcode and How it Works.” Turns out, thousands of people wanted to know the answer to that question since the information wasn’t readily available elsewhere on the internet.
The company was rigorous in its approach to its blog. It didn’t do things haphazardly. Instead, it created a timetable and stuck to it, producing content organised around keywords. The result of this effort was an impressive 4,000 percent increase in website traffic, 84 percent of which was organic.
The bottom line for businesses? Rogetech’s experience shows just how valuable it can be to know your competitor’s weaknesses. If your competitors aren’t blogging, start blogging. If your competitors aren’t making videos, start making videos. Do something that they’re not doing and you’ll attract a segment of the market. Who know, you could have success like Rogetech.
The Rodon Group
The Rodon Group is a manufacturer of injection moulded plastic parts. As a result, the company was an unlikely candidate to suddenly find itself in the media spotlight.
In 2012, however, the company’s director saw an opportunity to gain some publicity. He stated that he thought that after years of losing manufacturing jobs, the US was now in an era when manufacturing would start coming home.
Remember, this prediction was pre-Trump, and it was based on his belief that rising wages in China would push up manufacturing costs in the country so much that the US would once again be competitive.
Several news outlets agreed to interview him to find out more about the astonishing claim and ensured that millions of people heard about the company.
So what are the lessons for businesses? First of all, find stories in your industry that strike a national chord. There’s a great deal of longing for manufacturing to return to the US, especially because of what’s happened in the rust belt, and The Rodon Group took advantage of this perfectly.
Second, their story was well timed, with elections coming up and manufacturing jobs being on the agenda.