It's that time of year again when we all list our New Years resolutions. Lose 10 lbs, get to work early, call your Mom every week. We know, we all have them. Sometimes they seem too hard, even though we know we should. Here is a list of 10 achievable 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!
Google has a great one where you can use alerts to remind you to write copy and send communications. Bonus? You can also share it with others so that they know exactly when you're planning to launch a campaign.
Yes, even if you already have a website you should also host a blog. It's another way the search engines can pick you up; you establish yourself as an expert in your industry; you give a "voice" to your business; and you can get your readers' insight into how they feel about you or your company through comments they make.
It's not an overnight success, but when it starts to take off it can be incredibly beneficial. A few ways to ensure success are to make sure you flag categories on your posts or tag them for search engines; and backlink to your own site from your most popular keywords in your posts. Check out TypePad or WordPress, two great blogging platforms that are very cost-effective and easy to set up.
Get your best customers to give you quotes and use them everywhere. Include them on any outbound communications, in your email newsletters, on your site and in your store. They are one of the most powerful forms of marketing you have. We have a store near us that prints off huge posters of their customers wearing their clothing and hangs them in the window along with their history of being a customer. Benefit? The customers tell all their friends to go check out their big picture and shop at the store. These people are your influencers, use them.
Have a "wow" factor. Give free samples, throw a free gift into the customer shipment, call your customers to see how they liked their service, send a birthday greeting. Whatever it is, get your word of mouth campaign going! A few great examples that have found success:
Pick one customer-facing thing you do and change it drastically. Change your entire look of your website, repaint your store, start a monthly club, change your advertising message, change your uniforms, heck even change your "hold" music. Just do something different in the coming year that you've always wanted to do. 2008 is your year.
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.
If you are an expert in your field host a "lunch and learn" or a networking event. Again, make sure you do marketing to your own list as well as potentially renting a list for a postal mailing to get people there. If your work is online, host a webinar. Note: most of these have a 50-60% attendee rate.
Make a list of 5 of your competitors OR 5 other businesses in your local area and look at where they advertise. Then finally answer that pesky ad sales person and choose somewhere you've never advertised before. Then do it! Caveat: don't just do it once and think it will never work, if it's in your budget, do it 4-6 times before you decide to stop it.
Send an email and ask 10 questions about your customers' experience with you. Give a 5 point rating: Excellent, Good, Neutral, Poor, Very Bad. Be ready for the good, bad and the ugly, and you'll learn what your customers like and what they don't. Then you can make changes.
Make sure you send to 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. Everyone wins!
Put an opt-in form on every page of your site or blog, or link to it on every page with "Newsletter Sign Up." Put an exit pop-up window with the opt-in form when someone leaves your domain. Ask for your customer's information at your counter; input it daily into a spreadsheet or better yet a contact management system. However you collect email addresses, send a welcome email to them with a thank-you offer. Use VerticalResponse to collect email addresses for free!
Use Google Analytics to track your website visits. Get to know where your traffic is coming from and how good it is. Then make changes to your site, or your marketing materials.
Hopefully you're doing some of these already. It's tough to run a business and constantly come up with new ideas to market... so I hope this list sparks some new ideas. Happy 2008!