Tips to Help Ensure a Year of Growth

Book CoverMost people love the fresh-scrubbed feel of a new year. It’s especially a great time to set goals for yourself and your company, which, in many cases, fires you up and inspires change ahead. We all look forward to making improvements rather than looking back, but it is important pause and take stock of how far you’ve come. Doing so it helps avoid making the same mistakes twice, and reminds us of things we did that worked well, so that we can try to repeat them. In order to continue to grow yourself and your business, here are four marketing must-do’s in the coming year:

Define your marketing goals. With clearly defined goals, you have something to aim for and a way to measure your progress (or lack thereof). Throughout the year, you can easily analyze the numbers and see whether you’re on track to meet your goals; if you’re not, you’ll know you need to look for any problems that need to be addressed.

Some marketing goal ideas 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 it shouldn’t be a goal for your marketing efforts. Sales are the result of a comprehensive strategy of which marketing is just one component.

Develop and build your own marketing database. 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: friends, family members, former business associates—everyone. Your communications should not be sales pitches, but rather offer valuable, helpful information relevant to your field.

Keeps your database growing by offering content on your website that includes a call to action—an invitation for visitors to share their contact information in exchange for something that benefits them. That might include free reports available as downloads, how-to videos, or subscriptions to your blog posts. If you’re an author, you can provide a free chapter or two of your book.

Maintain your marketing budget even when sales slump. The first thing some people do when income declines is minimizing 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 weeks or months from now.

Use every marketing tool available to you. Today, we have more tools than ever for communicating the value of our service or product to the public. Many of them cost nothing. Forget yesterday’s expensive direct mail letters. Today, you can jump on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, among 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, magazines, and TV—are still powerful and carry the additional benefit of giving you credibility. That implied endorsement from journalists and talk show hosts sets you apart from the crowd.

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.

Following these simple, but essential tips, will help ensure you stay in front of your customers in the months ahead, which may just make 2014 your best year ever.