The concept of "force multipliers" originally was developed in military science, but certainly applies equally well to business. It refers to multiplication factors that occur when complementary actions or approaches are used together for greater impact.
Of course, such actions are equally applicable to businesses at any stage. With the rate of market change today, and the advent of worldwide competitors, you need every strategy you can muster to keep up, and respond quickly to new threats.
Here is an outline of some key force multipliers that I have seen used effectively in the ongoing battle for business survival and success:
1. Establish a presence on multiple social media channels
Amazingly, I still find that many small businesses still don't use any social media, much less appear on a range of platforms. You may focus only on Facebook, and missing customers who expect to see you on Instagram and YouTube. I recommend some presence on two or three platforms.
2. Get interactive with online users and customer feedback
Publishing your content is positive, but responding to customers online multiplies your impact. It shows you really care, and are part of the community, rather than just another anonymous entity. You should establish a policy of responding to every input, positive or negative. Stay current.
In addition, Live Chat from your website is another multiplier seldom used. According to Forrester Research, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is usually a decision maker.
3. Sponsor customer events for visibility and giveaways
Potential customers always enjoy special deals, special attention, and will multiply your efforts by their "word-of-mouth" to friends. These events are also opportunities to get a better handle on customer requirements, as well as measure your customer satisfaction and market trends.
Other non-sponsored high-profile events can be used as powerful bonding opportunities. If a major sporting event is taking your community by storm, host a viewing party or consider giving your best customers free tickets. Show potential customers that you care.
4. Participate in industry conferences and expositions
These not only give you the opportunity to meet major distributors and large new clients, but also offer the potential for free exposure to new markets. Any increase in brand recognition, as well as personal connections, is a multiplier to your existing marketing and sales efforts.
Finally, conferences will show you improvements you need to make in areas that can create multipliers without breaking your business. At least, these professional networking events allow you to get out of the office and meet people who can help.
5. Reach out to reward online influencers and advocates
Some of the most powerful growth drivers these days are social media influencers and dedicated fans. Make an extra effort to find these people and make them feel special for supporting you. These people value a real relationship, and will drift away to others if you don't recognize them.
6. Seek mentoring from established industry leaders
The right mentors can give you timely and unbiased feedback on your business, industry trends, and emerging competitors. This allows you to make earlier and more informed decisions to grow your business before a crisis. In some cases, the best mentor is one of your best customers.
7. Establish a partnership with a complementary business
Look for a merger or acquisition that will bring multiplier resources to your business, such as related successful products, a positive brand image, or a proven distribution network. Pursue only win-win situations, where the sum of one plus one long-term is more than two.
8. Focus on future opportunities, rather than daily crises
Don't allow your entire day and week be dominated by today's crisis, rather than long-term success strategy. I still see too many business leaders who "don't have time" for thinking ahead, due to today's problems. Block out time on your calendar for the multiplier of long-term planning.
Overall, you still need a winning mission, purpose, and solution, even with all the force multipliers recommended here. These multipliers also are no substitute for a highly engaged and trained team, supplied with the right tools and leadership.
In today's rapidly changing and highly competitive business world, I encourage each of you to utilize every force at your disposal.