I love the New Year, the blank slate and all the opportunity it affords. Each year, I make a list of goals and aspirations rather than an actual resolution. I do this personally and professionally. It helps to hold me accountable and gives me focus for the upcoming months.
But the great thing is, you don't have to wait for January one to roll around to readjust your marketing goals. Just like my marketing plan, your goals are fluid and can change as circumstances and situations evolve. In fact, I like to subscribe to Brian Moran and Michael Lennington's philosophy of The 12 Week Year, which allows you to get more done and be more productive.
Here are some areas you should consider when creating or adjusting your marketing plan. There’s always room for improvement, and you can’t do everything all at once. It’s best to choose a couple of key areas to focus on and build from there.
Here are Seven Strong Areas to Focus Your Marketing Energy This Year:
1. Blog Posts
We all know how important it is to blog. It brings personality to your business and allows you to express thoughts and concepts that you can't-do elsewhere. Most importantly, it improves your SEO by building new, fresh content loaded with your keywords. So, you might be thinking that you should blog as frequently as possible. Not necessarily. While regular, consistent blogging is great; the content is much more important. Focus on solid; meaningful content that contains your keywords and your time spent will be much more effective.
2. Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is critical. Very seldom are businesses successful without it. There are many options out there for small businesses. Print, web, radio, video, social media, direct mail, email marketing, and this list goes on. Depending on the type of business that you operate, you need to choose your options carefully. There is no such thing as a limitless advertising budget, so it is important to research where and how to reach your target market.
Signing up for every single advertising option that comes your way will naturally deplete your budget, and make it that much harder to track where your customers are coming from. Focus on two, maybe three outlets and then monitor your successes. If you aren’t seeing results after a few months, try something different.
3. Social Media
This is a huge one! With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, SnapChat, and on and on. Social media a beast! There is so much to know, so much potential, and so much room for error. Again, while frequent and consistent posting is good, you don’t want to overwhelm your audience with meaningless excessive posting. Make sure that your posts are thought-provoking and engaging. When you get questions, comments, and likes; be sure to respond to them.
This leads me to another point about social media. Thousands of fans and followers are great, but if they aren’t your target market and they aren’t’ engaged, they really aren’t that valuable. Spend your time and effort building an audience that is interested in what you have to offer. I would much rather have an audience of 150 potential customers that are invested in what I have to say versus 15,000 individuals who have no intention of ever purchasing my services.
4. Strong Clients
More clients are good, right? Not all clients are good clients. Some clients are just easier. They know what they want; they are easy to work with, and they return to you many times over because they are satisfied. Then there are clients who aren’t so easy to work with. They might not be sure about what they want or need. They could be habitual complainers, or just always looking for a discount or bargain price. They may not return to you; satisfied or not. Personally, I’d rather have five strong clients than 15 difficult ones. The trick is finding clients that you click with and that you can serve well.
5. Positive Testimonials
A testimonial page with a lot of entries is a good thing. But, what are your clients and customers actually saying? A detailed, informative testimonial about why a customer was specifically satisfied is much more effective than five that just say ‘good’ or ‘thumbs up.’ I love when businesses follow up with me after purchase. This is sometimes harder for big businesses, so it’s an excellent customer service angle for smaller ones. A personal email following a purchase is a great way to make sure your customer was satisfied and to ask them why. People are busy, and it’s certain that you won’t get a response to each one. But, chances are you’ll eventually get a great piece to put on your website or social media pages.
6. Mailing List
Do you have a newsletter mailing list where you communicate with past and potential customers? This is another important effort that you should be making on behalf of your business. If you’re not doing it on a regular basis, this could be a good area for you to focus on in the coming year. For this year, you could plan to send out an e-mail to your list once each month. And, concentrate on having good, interesting content in each one.
Where do you get new most of your new referrals? Do you have a referral program set up for your existing clients? Your satisfied customers are often your best promoters. Those that are happy with your service or products can do your best advertising by talking to others. You can encourage this by offering a referral program and a kick-back for referrers. A point-based program might work for you, or an automatic discount for each new customer referred may be most effective.
What areas of your business do you want to improve on and grow this coming year? Ask yourself where you should put your marketing energy to reach those goals. Remember; take one goal at a time, one day at a time. Small steps can add up to big progress.
Where you focus your marketing energy in your business? Which channels are most effective for you? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you!
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Dawn Berryman is the founder of MarketMommy.com and Market Mommy:: The Blog, online marketing resources for mom entrepreneurs. Market Mommy shows moms how and where to market their businesses. She holds a B.A. from Indiana University and has worked in the marketing/communications field for more than 11 years. She resides in rural Ohio with her husband and three children. For more information, please see: Market Mommy.
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