Planning for the new year
The holidays have come and gone, which means your tree is finally packed away, your house is empty of relatives and you’ve likely put on a few pounds (hey—it happens to all of us). Now is the perfect time to start thinking 2013!
A strategic plan for your small business is key to starting 2013 off on the right foot, so we’re here to help with a few pointers. So, grab some celery and carrot sticks (you’ve gotta start working off all those Christmas cookies you consumed, so why not start now?) and settle in to read Thrive’s Guide to Surviving (and Conquering) 2013. Happy New Years!
We’re in the business of marketing, so you know we have a lot to say about this! Good marketing is what keeps your business going; it’s what keeps people calling you and walking through your door. The time is ideal for devising a way to make those once-a-month customers once-a-week customers and getting those who have never given you business to finally give you a whirl. Here is what we predict:
- Digital marketing will continue to grow. According to a survey of marketing executives by email marketing company StrongMail , nearly half plan to increase budgets for digital media in the New Year. This includes email, social media and mobile.
- Email. To improve your email marketing in 2013, we recommend three goals: Increase your number of subscribers, increase your subscriber engagement (meaning, increase the sales you have as a result of your email blasts) and improve your targeting (meaning, do a better job of categorizing your subscribers so that you send relevant messages to the right folks).
- Social media. Nearly 40 percent of those marketing executives plan to increase marketing on Facebook in the New Year (as it is the most important social channel to date). We recommend you consider doing that as well as planning for ways to use social to acquire new customers and generate more leads. Do this by building awareness of your business on social media so that more people know about you. And of course, a great social media goal at any time of the year is to increase your engagement on those channels. Make your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. accounts fun and something people want to comment on, re-tweet and pin!
- Mobile. Nearly half (45 percent) of American adults and two-thirds of all young adults own smartphones, according to PewInternet research. This means it’s time to adopt some mobile marketing tactics, if you haven’t done so already. We recommend tackling a least two of these four strategies in 2013: Develop a mobile website for your business, increase awareness of your mobile site, employ location-based marketing (those smartphones have built-in navigation and location devises that allow businesses like yours to know where someone is located; this means you can make sure an ad for your business shows up on a smartphone when someone is in your area) and begin using SMS (Short Message Service) alerts (on average, text messages are read within four minutes, so the likelihood of conversion is extremely high).
- Integrated marketing will gain popularity. Combining tactics within the great, big marketing world is becoming mega important. Why? You’re able to compound the effect of multiple channels working together. Our friends at MarketingProfs note that “the market will react as more solutions will come to offer the ability to manage and measure integrated campaigns in one place, marking a decline in the adoption of one-dimensional solutions.” Basically, think about your customer (your existing ones and the ones you want to get) and really analyze all the forms of media you’ll need to use to reach that customer with your message. Different people like getting messages different ways (billboards, TV commercials, newspaper stories, testimonials from others, etc.). Then, you’ll need to develop a plan to make sure all those different mediums are coordinated with the message you want to convey so that you get a higher impact.
It’s time to go back to school, folks. We’re only as good as our knowledge base, and if the last time you brushed up on your education and skills was when the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff had a top 10 hit on the radio, you need to hit the books again. We’re not just talking about school as you probably know it. We’re talking all kinds of ways to learn and stay on top of what’s going on in 2013. This includes seminars and workshops; webinars; industry-related magazines, newsletters and eblasts; certification programs; and yes, classes. Your local colleges and universities are great places to look for continuing education courses but don’t forget about those professional organizations related to your industry. Just remember—being smart is always cool.
As you think about 2013 and putting together plans, don’t forget that the Small Business Administration offers many programs to help. You can contact them for more information on everything from loans and grants and contracting opportunities to how to write a business plan and training. Visit http://www.sba.gov/ for more.
And we can’t leave a “planning for the New Year” list without including a plug to take care of Mother Earth. This is something we can’t ignore anymore, so please consider adopting a few of the following suggestions to make sure you are reducing your carbon footprint on the environment (and they’re really easy steps!):
- Recycle. Products made from recycled materials are created using less energy and save waste that would otherwise end up in landfills. Also, recycled paper uses up to half the energy and 90 percent less water than paper made from trees. So, replace your office supplies with things like recycled paper, recycled pens and pencils and recycled light bulbs. You can easily organize your office so that staff can join in on the recycling fun every day, too. Set up a station with bins labeled for paper, cardboard, plastic and glass and another one for food waste.
- Economize your office kitchen. Choose energy-efficient appliances whenever possible. Swap disposable paper cups for mugs. Buy fair-trade coffee and tea.
- Turn the lights off. You heard your mom say it to you when you were growing up: When you leave a room, turn the lights off. The same principle applies to your office rules today. Make sure lights are turned off when rooms are empty and at the end of the day. And, if at all possible, switch to energy-efficient bulbs.
- Reduce the amount paper you use. Instead of printing out memos, newsletters and messages for your staff, share this information via email. When you do have to print something, make sure you reduce the font size and margins so that more can fit onto a page, and if you can print double-sided, do so. Lastly, when ordering office supplies, make sure you’re not only ordering recycled ones but order in bulk so that you reduce the amount of packaging included. You can also request that packaging be taken back to the supplier to be re-used.
And there you have it—a brief recap of what we think is most important for you and your business in 2013. We hope this information is helpful, insightful and, if nothing else, provided a five-minute respite to your busy day. Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time. . .Happy New Year!
Posted In: Marketing Tips