I love the fresh-scrubbed feel of a new year. It’s a great time to set goals and it inspires me to charge ahead.
I do more looking forward this time of year than looking back, but it is important to pause and take stock of where I’ve been. It helps me avoid making the same mistakes twice, and reminds me of things we did that worked well, so that we can try to repeat them.
To that end, here are my top four marketing must-dos in 2014:
With clearly defined goals, you have something to aim for and a way to measure your progress (or lack thereof). Throughout the year, I can easily analyse the numbers and see whether I’m on track; if I’m not, I know I need to address any problems.
Goals include how many followers or connections you’ll gain on your social media networks, and how many new subscribers you’ll sign up for newsletters. Sales may be a number you take into account, but remember — sales are the result of a comprehensive strategy of which marketing is just one component.
Building a database with email addresses and relevant information about former, current and prospective clients is absolutely essential. It allows you to communicate with them, reminding past customers of all you have to offer; strengthening the confidence of current customers; and encouraging prospective customers to move toward a sale.
If you’re just getting started, create a database of all the people you know who might be interested in hearing from you including friends, family and all your business contacts. Your communications should not be sales pitches; they should offer valuable, helpful and relevant information.
Grow your database by including a “call to action” on your website — an invitation for visitors to share their contact information in exchange for something that benefits them. That could include free reports, how-to videos or subscriptions to your blog posts.
The first thing some people do when income declines is minimise expenses by whacking their marketing budget. Huge mistake! In fact, you need to pay more attention to marketing when sales drop off.
The new prospects you develop today, and the prospects you’ve been establishing relationships with, will be your paying customers tomorrow. If you allow that stream to dry up, you’ll be in even more dire straits a few months from now.
Today we have more tools than ever for communicating the value of our service or product. Many of them cost you nothing. Today I can jump on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and the other social media networks and reach a potentially far larger audience for free.
Speaking engagements may be old school, but they’re still effective; personal, face-to-face experiences create lasting impressions. Traditional media — radio, newspapers and magazines, and TV — are also still powerful and carry the additional benefit of giving you credibility. That implied endorsement from journalists can set you apart.
Creating a great website accessible to millions of potential shoppers doesn’t have to break the bank, and you can ramp up its value by using it to showcase your publicity.
Use everything at your disposal to share your message.
Do you know how much money you'd like to earn next year? Have you worked out how much product/how many services that equates to? Do you have a spreadsheet somewhere on your laptop that shows how much you'd like to turn over on a monthly basis?
It's tempting not to bother. You don't have time. You're not sure what's possible. You're worried you're being bullish. What if you don't meet the targets? There are plenty of reasons/excuses why people don't create targets. I can't imagine my business that didn't have targets. No wait a minute, I can...
We'd drift along from one month to the next. We'd still do a great job for our clients and my team might be happier for a while: no targets means no pressure at the end of the month! But after a while that lack of direction and sense of purpose would manifest itself in both me and the team. The team wouldn't know how well they were doing, because they'd have nothing tangible or objective to measure their performance against.
Horrors; if I didn't have targets I probably wouldn't have a budget either. I'd spend money when I had it in the bank, and I'd stop spending when I ran out of cash. I'd make decisions based on the cash in my bank account rather than the value they'd add to my business. And it would be touch and go as to whether I'd have a business next year. I'd spend a LOT more than if I'd had a proper budget and the chances are I'd make a LOT LESS money.
Without the incentive of monthly targets I'd probably invoice a good 25% less every month as I'd just be drifting along. And I'd probably have a bit of a rude awakening at the end of the year.
I don't like the sound of any of that! I've always been very targets focused and it's all I've known all my working life. Yes it's tough, yes it's corporate, but I also believe it's essential to anyone serious about running a successful business.
I've had my book-keeper put together a budget for me for next year based on the company performance over the last four years, and also my own personal financial goals. It's exciting! And most importantly, I know what I need to do to get to where I want to get to.
Now all we need to do is achieve them!