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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!
I absolutely love this time of year. As the clock starts to climb down to the end of 2009 I can feel a real sense of optimism. My renewed sense of buoyancy is partly down to our customers: working in the ecommerce industry the four weeks leading up to Christmas are their busiest. 2009 was a very tough year for all of us but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful in 2010.
However, success doesn’t come without hard work and I am determined to make 2010 a successful one! Within this post I want to air my three new year’s resolutions for the business.
Do less, better
It may sound obvious, but for any business to success everyone has to be pulling in the right direction. However the start of a new year is a great time to sit back and review if you are pulling in too many directions.
It’s far too easy to do too much. If you’re anything like me I hate turning down projects and opportunities. However doing lots badly isn’t a strategy for success. Doing 100 mediocre things with your business will only make you 100 times more average. Focus, pick a project, do it well and complete it, even if this means you turn down 99 other things.
Talk to more people
The core driver of any business is customers. Customers, like puppies, are not just for Christmas - they need to feel loved and appreciated all year. My second resolution is to speak to as many of my customers as I humanly can. I want to find out how they tick, how their business works, and most importantly why they are my customer and not someone else’s. Anyone in a decision-making capacity within your business should be speaking to customers, not just sales and support.
One of my sporting heroes is the amazing Rebecca Romero. If you don’t know who she is, Google her, she is inspirational. Romero has won two Olympic medals in two different sports: rowing and cycling. And because of rule changes it looks like she will need to find a third sport to compete in for 2012. I want my business to be like Rebecca Romero, consistently excellent but not afraid to adapt.
Why only three resolutions, well it would be impossible to complete the first one with a list longer than my arm. What are you going to do in 2010 to improve?
The beginning of the story for the organisations with the big money budgets is that they take ideas from the innovation teams and then want to test them out. They either use in-company market research teams or more probably they set up a project brief with external market research agencies.
The researchers look at the product or service and put together a solid market research brief for their client that could include surveys, focus groups, interviews or questionnaires (online and offline). Sometimes, new methodologies such as ethnography are used. This is where you spend extended time with consumers – sometimes staying with them and sharing their lives – a fascinating, if not a rather strange qualitative experience – especially when you are looking through people’s bathroom cupboards!
Research with a large budget is very powerful – research can be done globally using thousands and thousands of people for thousands and thousands of pounds. Once the results are in – the agency can analyse the data and information and comments in depth. Once the agency has completed the analysis they put together a huge de-brief document and present this to the client – this can sometimes take a couple of days! If the results are promising, a product could be born. But then the hard work starts – the full marketing, finance and project management process starts over what could be a year or more up until the launch of the product. You then have to look at the whole marketing mix – watch the competition and analyse their offering, gaps in their offering and of primary importance, look at the return on investment potential.
Article originally appeared at Real Eyes Marketing Blog
For some, Christmas can be a quiet and relaxing time of year. The other day I spoke to a company that designs letterheads, and whose busiest time of year is in line with the taxman’s. They had their proverbial feet up and were tucking into what I expect wasn’t the first mince pie of the season. For others, Christmas is a hectic time when staff holiday needs to be covered or a rush of trade means there are more orders than there are re-runs of Dad’s Army.
For the smaller business, Christmas can be a busy – and expensive – time of year, especially if you are looking to reward, staff, clients and suppliers for their support and custom through the preceding 12 months. Christmas cheer can be in short supply and financial constraints may mean you have to forego the traditional Christmas party; in no time at all, you could be branded a Scrooge.
Our literary friend Scrooge is now a byword for miserable, tight and cold of heart. But he, too, was running a small business and had to look after the needs of his firm. It’s likely he faced many of the same business challenges as you.
But somewhere along the way, Scrooge messed up one very important aspect of running a business: he neglected his reputation. Whichever way you look at it, every firm trades on its reputation and relies on good PR and word-of-mouth recommendation to grow and prosper. As it turns out, Scrooge redeems himself in A Christmas Carol, but only after a series of unlikely ghostly visitations.
If Scrooge were a real business-owner running a real small business, how would you handle his PR? What course of action would you take to put the positive spin into Scrooge? How would you avert a Scrooge PR crisis? Is a Humbug a hopeless case when it comes to reputation management? We want your ideas, creative, serious or otherwise.
You have until next Tuesday (15 December) to get your submission in and we’ll write it up into a festive blog post. Either share your thoughts in a succinct tweet or we will happily accept anything under 100 words. Please submit your contribution to us by:
It never ceases to amaze me in this digital age, just how many people fail to the make the most of their PR.
Say you write an article that appears in all its glory on, oh I don’t know, let’s say The Marketing Donut. Fantastic. That particular site gets thousands of visits per day and could potentially get your insightful, carefully written advice in front of a healthy slab of potential clients.
But what happens in a week or two when the link to your post has fallen off the Marketing Donut’s front page? Well, you’ll probably still get some visits to the post, but the main exposure generated by the article will have passed, and with it, the benefit it brought to your profile. Unless…
If you’re going all out on the public relations front, the chances are you have a website too. On that website you could create a media coverage page. On that page, you could post links to (or copies of) all of the coverage you have achieved. Why? Because media coverage can lend credibility to your brand, and if visitors to your site can browse through your mentions in the media, they are more likely to value your offering.
There are plenty of examples of how to lay out a media coverage area all over the web – just do a quick search to see everything from a simple to list of links to flashy animated affairs. The only vital thing to note is that you must get permission from the publication before placing a copy of the feature on your own site. This needs to be done even if you wrote the piece in the first place, and it’s good practice to include a link to the original source too.
Now, I’m off to clip this article about media coverage pages, and get it up on my media coverage page (with the editor’s permission, of course).
Marketing your business via your blog or a social network takes an adjustment in the way you think about how to write for your business. In this video, we look at four great web apps which know how to get a Web 2.0 marketing strategy spot on.
PostRank knows the importance of great content. Writing about the right topics will ensure that customers become readers and return to your blog time after time. Since starting your business blog, what response have you had from readers? If you haven’t started a blog, perhaps this video might help.