Congratulations for working hard this past year! If you’re a small business like us and want to grow your customer base, this is the perfect time to reevaluate where you are, what doesn’t work, and what could work, so that we all enjoy bonzer opportunities this year.
First thing to do: Pull up that file of all the notes about your team’s and customers’ feedback from last year. You might call this your Year-end Audit, consolidated Business Report, Financials, and so on.
NOW, LET’S BUILD A SOLID PLAN FROM ALL THOSE RICH AND BUSINESS-NOURISHING INSIGHTS, SHALL WE?
Get a head start, and allow us to share our Top 3 Best Practices to help you start the year with a bang!
1. GROW: REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS GOALS / SET NEW BUSINESS GOALS
This is vital because this will determine specific actions that you will want to take, and this will be your “travel map” that will steer you in the right direction to help you give more focus on areas of your bizzo that need strategic planning.
To make these main goals really actionable, be very specific as to what you would like to achieve. Don’t pressure yourself too much—you can start with one goal that needs to be reached at the end of the year. Move accordingly from there (quarterly goals, if applicable) and hone in on areas of your business that will figure into your marketing plan.
A starting worksheet could have:
• Pain points your customers encountered last year, as well as aspects of the business that hindered your prospective customers to purchase from you;
• How your business strategy last year has affected your brand image translating to sales, and repeat customers;
• Products and/or services you currently have or want to add, and how you plan to market them;
• New tools that you want to try to help you achieve your goals;
• Team members who will spearhead specific action points to help you achieve your goals;
• Reviewing competition, and taking stock of your brand benefits to see if they are still competitive as tactics to use for your marketing plan
A good way to make sure you complete this properly is to stop when you are disconcerted about an area. Move on to your other main goals and come back after you’ve had your elevenses 😉
TIP: Think backwards to set your action points. Keep your sheet of data open and make a new sheet. You can even make a mind map (link) for this to organise information. List a goal that you would like to achieve this year, and figure out what can be done to achieve this goal. Input from different team members in all departments makes for a bonzer plan.
A sample goal could be getting 1,000 segment X customers to try your X product or service. Where can you find them and what should each team do to ensure 1,000 customers do sign up?
2. GLOW: SUPERCHARGE MARKETING CREATIVITY AND BUSINESS INNOVATION
Once you have your strategies and tactics set, take a closer look and see if it is something that looks good on paper AND will be effective in actual practice. Ideation with different team members with different perspectives will help troubleshoot any problems.
Traditional marketing channels and “tried-and-tested” product offering tags (New and improved! Best-selling!) might be something that currently works, but remember that you need to truly differentiate yourself and your messaging to effectively capture and secure a bigger share of your target audience.
If it aint broke, don’t fix it… But maybe some creative touches and tweaking might be the difference between acquiring and retaining customers, and making them true ambassadors of your business.
Strengthen communications for your core brand offerings, but consider refreshing your image and the many innovative ways of shifting focus to fine-tune where your customers truly are. Your prospective customers are using Twitter—But is this a better venue for promotional announcements rather than personal communications? Take a look at your social media analytics and the challenges (Read:increased cost for promoted posts) that currently might render your plan less cost-effective than last year. Do printed flyers handed out in person leave a stronger impression, or will mobile marketing and new media fit better with your customers’ behaviour?
TIP: Try using a combination of physical and digital methods to innovate existing marketing and promotional tactics. “Augmented Reality” companies such as Augmented Reality Company and Applause Digital can make your flyers, brochures, catalogues, or any printed material more interesting, creating a fresh and more engaging experience. This merges traditional and digital media. Greater applications of technology and new concepts can bridge the gap and address any disconnect by continuing your brand’s story, at any time, with that “wow” factor.
3.GO: BE PREPARED FOR SUCCESS
Many people start with good plans and bonzer ideas, and reach goals with determination and hard work. But failure can come easily if one is not ready for success.
Don’t be lax once you’ve reached your goals—always be on the lookout for new competition and continue growing as a team. Empower your employees, and keep the passion for your business alive. Management should do what is best not only for the business, but for its teams as well. To be successful means constantly bringing out the best in your own employees; and this will effortlessly translate to delivering the best products or service to your customers.
While there may be new competition that will grab some of your market share, if you are well-prepared, are truly passionate about what you do, and believe in your business model and its potential, nothing can ever stop you.
HOW ABOUT YOU? HOW ARE YOU DRIVING YOUR BUSINESS THIS 2014? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BOX.
Cheers to you, and to the new year ahead of us! Let’s make this year count.