End of the year, start of the new year. Time to reflect, time to plan.
What worked in the last year? What didn’t? What did you miss out on? And most important, what are your goals? We all get “too busy,” our priorities change, we lose motivation, our focus become blurry and we get off balance.
Here’s how taking an hour to review your marketing plan can get you back on track and off to a fresh start for the new year.
1. Save you money. Your bottom line. When you have a plan in place, you know ahead of time what you’re spending. It’s the armor to say no when tempted by a new idea. Or when you’re pressured by a salesperson with a deadline. You won’t spend frivolously on what started as an inexpensive ad. With a plan in place, you might even save money by not continuing with something you didn’t realize wasn’t working for you.
2. Save you time. Only you can take responsibility for how you spend your time. Want more? Then plan ahead. When you “plan your work and work your plan” you stay focused on the goal and minimize the distraction of all the other noise such as collecting data (taking in random advice), doing “research” on the web (spending time on Facebook unnecessarily) or slipping into crisis management (oh no you missed a deadline). You’ll be less likely to wander off on a tangent during the year that isn’t adding to your bottom line. You’ll have the focus and clarity you need to get the job done.
3. Correct mistakes. Did you find that something you tried last year didn’t work? Is your online reputation intact? When was the last time you checked? The end of the year is a good time to review what happened and make the changes to ultimately make the customer right. And how do you do that? By engaging with them on their level, understanding their needs as far as your product or service goes, using processes they prefer throughout the sale, and dazzling them at the close.
4. Reach more customers. Have you looked at all the options available to reach your market? Just because you’re comfortable with what you’re using now doesn’t mean it’s the best use of resources. Things change all the time, especially with digital, and when you explore where your customers are you might find a better way to reach them. Find out what the demographics are for the traditional media sources you’re using. Is their reach up or down from the year before? Is this the year to try programmatic ads? (Don’t be afraid to ask what that is and how to do it. There are people who will do it for you.)
5. Be more effective. Are you using a push or pull strategy? Or a little of both? Have you always used traditional advertising with print, radio, and television which is the “push”? If so, why? Is brand awareness your main concern or do you have specific needs to promote throughout the year? When you find out how your customers are coming to you, you should be meeting them there. If they start with an online search, for example, do you have all the right keywords in place on your website for them to find you? Are you able to “pull” them into your store with email sign up, helpful blogs and posts, and the right amount of engagement?
6. Have more impact. Drill, drill, drill. When you truly understand who your typical customer is, you have the power to attract, convert, close, and delight. If you’ve been in business a while, your market may have changed over the years. The biggest change currently is how business is conducted. Chances are when you see a customer in your store now they’re holding onto just about everyone’s favorite accessory, their smartphone. Have you modified your plan to accommodate this modern wonder?
7. Energize your story. What got you into this business in the first place? Find the passion, focus, drive and ambition you had when first starting out and hang on to that feeling. People love stories and if they’re a fan of your business they’ll want to know everything about you. Update it, get it out there where you customers are, and share the love. If you can’t hit on an emotion with your story, it might be time to address a bigger issue.
8. Stay current with marketing trends. Change is hard but there’s no excuse for not keeping up. The information and technology are everywhere. At least once a year, if not once a month, take time to find out what’s new and how it affects you. Do you have a responsive web design? Do you have a beacon located in your shop? Where are you at with relationship marketing? No idea what any of this means? Now is a good time to learn.
9. Find where your customers are. Social media changes all the time. Literally, as in daily. While Facebook still works for the majority of the world, your niche might only be on Instagram. Or Snapchat. Or maybe you should be focusing your efforts on LinkedIn. It’s not just for job networking. You too could become a thought leader on LinkedIn, if that’s where your customers want to read your blog. But maybe they prefer watching a video over reading a blog. Digital demographics.
10. Reward yourself for your success. You’ve ended the year with a profit, maybe even an increase over last year, you pulled off the company party and gave everyone a bonus and you’ve got good people in place helping to manage your business. No small feat! But have you taken time to acknowledge your role in all of this? When you set goals and meet them, when you have a checklist and can cross items off, when your metrics are where they’re supposed to be, take a moment to take it in and congratulate yourself. This is what gets your dopamine and oxytocin levels up that keep you focused and motivated. And it makes work fun.