Expert Insights

Is now really a good time to go for growth?

With turbulence on the stock markets, an economic slowdown in China and uncertainty over the UK’s position in Europe, is now really the time to invest in growth? Former top Coca-Cola executive Nick Massey believes that, with some shrewd moves and a robust plan, you could seize the initiative to boost your market share and deliver a significant revenue upside.

Despite the gloom, China’s economy grew by almost 7% last year – the sort of growth Europe can only dream about.

“If you’re heavily reliant on selling luxury goods or raw materials into China, now might be the time to diversify into other markets,” says Nick. “Similarly, if you’re a UK-based company and most of your products go to the EU, the uncertainty over the referendum means you may be cautious about any significant investments or acquisitions until the picture becomes a little clearer.”

That said, Nick believes now is generally a good time to start driving sales, investing in growth and stealing a lead on risk-averse competitors spooked by what they’ve read.

“I wouldn’t bet the farm, but the climate now feels very different to the financial crisis of a few years ago,” he says. “Assuming you have a solid strategy for the short-to-medium term, now’s the time to make some strong, validated bets that are recoverable from, but have a good chance of delivering growth. If you’re battling for market share, extreme caution means you’re probably going to lose.”

There are many opportunities to bring new value to customers through innovation and whilst you’re not innovating, your competitors probably are

Focus on your current strategy to drive value

Nick says the priority for a company should be to drive effectiveness into its current strategy. If you have a clear customer value proposition, your marketing should be highly focused to drive home your differentiation to create extra value.

Similarly, sales teams should be aligned towards customer segments with unmet needs to exploit pockets of growth. Are there territories and markets you’ve so far failed to capitalise on? Are there customer segments that are over-served? By redeploying resources to high-value opportunities, it’s likely sales team productivity can be improved.

Organisations should also be making the most of digital to make their dollars work harder and they should have a strong innovation strategy. “Consumers are always seeking the next new thing and there are lots of interesting developments in fields such as materials science, SaaS and digital adaptations of existing products,” he says. “There are many opportunities to bring new value to customers through innovation and whilst you’re not innovating, your competitors probably are.”

“It’s not easy to achieve. However, there’s a big pay off when you have clarity on your customers’ needs, and an integrated approach to innovation, design and digital that can power up a smart sales team behind well-positioned products.”

Growth in adjacent markets

Nick also advises that companies should focus on core markets and adjacent ones. “The moment you stray too far from your core proposition, you introduce inherent risk. But in adjacent markets, where it’s not going to be too challenging to understand customers and build relationships, you’ll find your brand has the best opportunity to stretch.

“You must have a systematic approach to evaluate each opportunity and be clear on how you’re going to win. And if you don’t have a strong case for building market share in an adjacent market, I wouldn’t do it. Businesses have no choice but to grow, and right now there are those who are feeling very risk averse and not acting because of all the noise in the general environment.

“You can make that work to your advantage and steal their market share. If you have a robustly validated business plan, are concentrating on the value-drivers, you’ll have the confidence to see a route through and deliver upside to your business.”


  • There’s a lot of negative noise out there, but good opportunities to grow remain.
  • Don’t bet the farm – focus on driving effectiveness in your current assets.
  • Invest in the customer through effective marketing, sales, innovation and digital.
  • Don’t stray too far from your core or adjacent markets.

Nick Massey

Nick Massey was the most senior British national at Coca-Cola in Atlanta, where he was Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, and Corporate Vice President of Strategy. As an experienced growth leader, he has since executed numerous business transformations, performance turnarounds and revenue growth strategies for venture capital and private equity-backed businesses in services and product industries.

Williams Bain

Williams Bain is an exclusive hybrid interim and change management provider. We’re trusted by some of the UK’s largest organisations to support the implementation of complex strategies that accelerate results and lead to definitive, positive and measurable change.