Despite those pessimistic kill-joys who say you shouldn’t have to wait until a new year before you set yourself up to fail miserably with another set of New Year’s resolutions, I think the start of a new year is a great chance to stop, reassess, and consider old habits and new.
Sure – you can do this any time of the year, but New Year’s is as good a time as any… and with all the fireworks and champagne flowing, at least it’s imbued with a sense of excitement and goodwill.
Seems to me that’s a pretty good note to start on.
But amid the vows to cut back on the aforementioned champagne and to dust the cobwebs off the treadmill (…oh… that’s just me?…. carry on then…) the start of a new year is also a fantastic time to think about what new directions and changes you can make to get your business in better shape.
Here are 12 resolutions that can benefit your business in 2012.
Mission: Update and clean out your client database.
Action: Delete any obsolete details and make sure you have correct and current details for your existing clients and suppliers.
Result: A fresh, up-to-date database will provide a solid basis for all your marketing activities for the coming year.
Mission: Gather customer feedback.
Action: Now your database is sorted, this is a great time to get in touch with your customers to find out what you’re doing well, what you could be doing better, and if there’s anything more you could be doing in general. You can use a free tool like SurveyMonkey to get you started.
Result: Customer feedback provides invaluable information to guide your marketing efforts for the remainder of the year.
Mission: Create an e-newsletter for your business.
Action: Think about what information your customers might enjoy receiving from you. Advance notice of upcoming sales, exclusive offers, changes to your business, industry advice. You can use another free tool like MailChimp to create professional, SPAM compliant newsletters.
Result: By offering great news, advice or deals on a regular basis, you can position yourself as an authority in your industry and stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Not only will they think of you first when they need your services, they’ll be more likely to refer you to friends and colleagues.
Mission: Create a loyalty program.
Action: Find a way to reward your existing customers for sending referrals your way, whether it be a discount off their next purchase, a (non-promotional) gift, or upgraded membership. Find something appropriate to your business and your customers.
Result: An effective loyalty program is not only a great way to reward your existing customers to nurture their loyalty, but also to win new customers and build your business.
Mission: Make your website mobile friendly.
Action: Chat to your web designer about what they can do to make your website easily accessible via mobile phones and tablets.
Result: With mobiles and tablets quickly becoming the first point of contact, make sure your potential customers can easily find you and view your site.
Mission: Make large payments now.
Action: Assess what Superannuation, consumables, repairs, or other deductible payments you can make before June 30. The ATO is a great source of information for anything you may be unsure of.
Result: Making these payments before the end of financial year means you can claim those deductions as part of THIS financial year, instead of waiting another 12 months for the tax benefit.
Mission: Reach out to your customers.
Action: The little things really do count. Let your customers know your appreciate them by sending birthday cards, little treats with their orders, thoughtful Christmas gifts, a link to something you know they will find interesting, or even a thank you for paying their invoices before the due date.
Result: By keeping your customers top of your mind, they will keep you top of theirs. And who doesn’t love an unexpected treat?
Mission: Speak at an event.
Action: Get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce or business group and volunteer to conduct a training seminar, or speak about your industry.
Result: This is a great way to receive local promotion and to establish yourself as an expert in the community.
Mission: Create a video.
Result: With YouTube being the largest search engine second only to Google, making a video for your business is a great way to get found online and establish your brand and industry authority.
Mission: Ask for testimonials
Action: Get proactive in asking for testimonials. Most people will be happy to give them, but a little structure and guidance when you ask for a testimonial can make all the difference between a generic comment and something really useful.
Result: Sure, no one is ever going to post a crappy testimonial, but the right kinds of testimonials can give potential customers some great insight into why your business is better than your competition.
Mission: Get listed.
Action: This great Australian directory list from Wicked Cow Marketing provides 51 free online directories to help your website get found.
Result: Gain greater exposure and more genuine links to your site, which helps boost your SEO.
Mission: Get Merry!
Action: ‘Tis the season to be jolly, so spread the joy by sending your favourite clients or suppliers a useful, personalised gift as a way of thanking them for their support over the past year, or take them out to lunch.
Result: When you invest the time to get to know someone personally, you can turn a customer or supplier into an advocate for your business… and build some great friendships to boot!
I hope my list has given you some New Year’s inspiration for your business and I’d love to hear any other suggestions you can add.