We have all read so much information about finishing the year strong. Finishing strong is admirable and should be a goal for any business owner or leader. However, STARTING off strong should also be our focus. With just a few days left in 2016, our focus should now be shifting to how to start off strong and remain focused in 2017.
I believe in the power of momentum. What is in motion, often stays in motion. This is why morning rituals are so critical. It is often a predictor of how you spend your energy the rest of the day. The same theory applies with your year. Plan the first quarter of your year now, if you have not already. Create an undeniable momentum and see how your year takes off.
Below are 6 recommendations on how to start your year off STRONG in marketing your business or organization:
Develop Your Theme: Even if you don’t externally promote your theme for the year or the quarter, you should have it as part of your marketing plan for your or your team to remember. Having a meaningful theme helps to focus marketing efforts. Anything that does not help build or sustain your internal theme should be considered random acts of marketing. Discover your vision for the year, develop a theme that everyone can quickly remember and put your energy toward your theme.
Create Boundaries: This is a big one for me. I’m learning this as I’m type this blog. But I can also write about it because I’ve experienced the detrimental effects when a business owner or leader does not create boundaries. In 2017, decide the type of boundaries you need to have a more successful and less stressful year. Will it require saying “no” more often? Refusing to work with certain clients that drain your time or energy? Creating specific work hours or days? One boundary I was proud of this year, is that I said no to work on Sundays. I broke that rule once and I felt horrible and somewhat resentful toward my client. She didn’t know and it was not her fault. It was up to me to establish that boundary. What are those things that brought you stress? Discover how to create boundaries around those issues.
Know Your Leads: If you are not focusing on leads, then you are not focusing on growth. Leads are your prospective clients or customers. Develop a plan on how to turn your leads into clients. Often we are so proud of our prospective clients or our followers, but we are not thinking strategically about how to turn them into loyal clients or customers. It is also important to know how long it takes your typical lead to make the decision to convert to a customer or client. For some industries and businesses, it may be just a few minutes, for other industries it may take several weeks. Normally the higher the risk or cost, the more time it takes to convert them. Know this and develop a plan.
Test and Measure: ROI (Return on Investment) is important. Sometimes it is difficult to measure, but think about what you can measure that will show some accomplishment or movement of some key goals. Marketing or branding is often hard to measure ROI, however, there are components that you can measure depending on your goals. For example, you may measure how your mailing list grows or the analytics of your newsletter. Are more people opening or clicking on the articles? How many people are calling per month? How many people have attended or visited your business or organization?
Don’t Discount… but Add Value: This was also a hard one for me. Discounts are sometimes necessary or can spark activity. However, don’t get into a perpetual cycle of discounting. This diminishes your value and sets the wrong expectations with your clients and customers. Some professionals never discount their services, the same with some products such as Apple. But, making sure you have value propositions is important. You can’t stand your ground on no discounts, but not add any significant value. The better you are, the more you KNOW how good you are, the fewer discounts you need to give.
Brainstorm Big: I LOVE brainstorming. When I meet with my clients, they will often hear me say “I’m just thinking out loud, you may not like this…” Brainstorming is not meant to perfect or right, but to expand your mind and take you down different paths. If something doesn’t feel right to you or you need a breakthrough….start brainstorming. I encourage you to kick off your year brainstorming and exploring the possibilities with your business or organization.
I hope this gets you started on a phenomenal year! Yes, end your year strong and do everything you can to feel proud of how you said goodbye to 2016. But don’t get too caught up on 2016. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 43:18: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Or another version says: “But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” (NLT). The future is bright. Enter into 2017 with great expectations for your business or organization.