It’s the time of year again when we list our New Year’s resolutions such as losing 10 lbs, arriving at work early, calling your Mom every week, etc. You know — we all have them! We came up with some great business things to DO in the New Year to Grow Your Business. It’s a list of resolutions all businesses should focus on in the New Year if you’re not already ahead of the game. If you are, consider yourself a pro and do everything 20% better!
- Use a Calendar – Google Calendar is a fantastic and free option. You can schedule alerts to remind you to write your copy and send your communications. Bonus? You can also share your calendar with others so they will know exactly when you’re planning to launch. With Google Calendar you can also create and publish an event calendar to feature or embed directly on your website. Check out the EXHIB-IT! Trade Show, Networking & Business Events Calendar, produced with the Google Calendar App.
- Publish a Blog – Yes, even if you already have a website you should also host a blog. Every week EXHIB-IT! publishes an educational blog post for businesses to gain knowledge in trade shows, marketing and leadership. Sign up for email updates and get notified every Thursday when we post to our EXHIB-IT! Marketing Blog. It is another way the search engines can pick you up and allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. You give a “voice” to your business and brand, and you can get your reader’s insight into how they feel about you or your company through comments they make on your interactive blog. It’s not an overnight success. However, when it starts to take off, it can be incredibly beneficial. Make sure you flag categories on your posts and tag them with specific and relevant keywords for the search engines. Make sure you inward link or cross link to your own site from your most popular keywords in your posts. Check out WordPress and Blogger, two great Blogging platforms that are very cost-effective and easy to set up and integrate with your site and social media platforms.
- Get 5+ Testimonials – Get your best customers to give you quotes, testimonials, and reviews and use them everywhere you can. Include them on any outbound communications, in your email newsletters, on your site and in your store. Used often, they can be one of the most powerful forms of marketing you implement. Be sure to highlight a customer testimony on you site or in your showroom or store and promote that company on your site with the testimony. Benefit? The customers tell all their friends to go check out the web site blog, newsletter or link on your web site or advertisement in your showroom or store and referrals generate. These people are your evangelists and influencers to help build your tribe of followers. Use them wisely. Make it a goal of getting 5+ testimonials per month in the coming year. That would be a minimum of 60 for the year!
- Generate word of mouth – Create a “WOW” factor. Consider giving free samples, including a free gift into the customer shipment, calling your customers to see how they liked their product or service, and sending a birthday or annual customer thank you card. Whatever it is, get your word of mouth campaign going! How about all the above for starters?• Doctors call the night after a procedure to see how things are going.
• Retailers throw something fun into your online shipment orders or shopping bags.
• Restaurants give a few cookies at the end of the meal.
• Coffee houses offer a free cup of coffee after a certain number of visits to returning customers.
• Consultants give your first hour of time free.
• Offer coffee and beverages at your offline location.
- Be Innovative – Pick one customer focused thing you do and change it drastically. Change the entire look of your website, add a new product, start a club, change your advertising message, change your uniforms for trade shows — even change your “hold” music. Just do something different in the coming year that you’ve always wanted to do. Make 2016 “YOUR” year! Start the year off right – become a “BEST-IN-CLASS” company that your customers really want to do business with.
- Host an Event – If you’ve got a retail location host an after-hours sale or an event to celebrate your best customers, the New Year or your anniversary party. Make sure you do enough marketing in store and outside your location to get the number of people you want there. When was the last time you did something like this?
If you are an expert in your field host a “lunch and learn” or a networking event. (Example: EXHIB-IT!’s 9th Annual B2B Expo will be held April 26, 2016 from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Sandia Resort & Casino. Last year we had 750 attendees!) Again, make sure you do marketing to your own list as well as potentially renting a list for a postal mailing in the area to get people there. If you’re work is online, host a Webinar. Note: most of these have a 40-50% attendee rate, so get as many RSVPs in advance as possible.
- Advertise – Make a list of 5 of your competitors OR 5 other businesses in your market area and look at where they advertise. Then finally answer that pesky ad sales person and choose somewhere you’ve never advertised before but be sure you use metrics on your advertising dollars for gaining the best return on your investment. If it’s in your budget, advertise 4-6 times before you decide to stop it or better yet, continue it after your metrics have been analyzed. Most importantly, do not stop advertising and marketing when you assume the economy looks doom and gloom. Use this time to show everyone you are a strong and sustainable company that will continue to thrive during hard times.
- Send Out a Customer Survey – Send an email and ask 10 questions about your customer’s experience with you with a 5 point rating: Excellent, Good, Neutral, Poor, Very Bad. Be ready for the good, the bad and the ugly. You will learn what your customers like and what they don’t, and then you can make changes and be sure you do. This information is very valuable to your company. Make sure you send a statistically valid sample and get a good sampling back. You don’t want to make changes based on just 1-2 remarks. Make sure you announce your changes to all of your customers in an email campaign. This way everyone wins!
- Collect Email Addresses – Put an opt-in form on every page of your site, social media pages, or blog or link to it on every page with a link “Newsletter Sign Up.” Put an exit pop-up window with the opt-in form when someone leaves your domain. Put a sign up form on your blog. Ask for your customer’s information at your office or showroom location and input it daily into a spreadsheet or better yet a contact management system. However you collect email addresses, be sure to send a welcome email with a thank-you offer.
- Analyze your Data – Use Google Analytics to track and monitor your website visits, traffic, and statistics. Get to know where your traffic is coming from and how good it is. Then make changes to your site, or your marketing materials. Remember, having a well optimized site generates traffic and you want to analyze your changes to watch your website visits grow. The ultimate goal – convert those leads into sales!
Hopefully you’re already incorporating these suggestions into your marketing strategy. In 2016 make a goal to improve on these important processes to continue to thrive. It is tough to run a business and constantly come up with new ideas to market, but to be a successful company, it is critical that you be innovative, keep a great marketing campaign strategy and continue to build a best-in-class company. Hopefully this list sparks some new ideas for you to create and measure.