2011 Your Best Year in Business

Forget the doom and gloom from the media. The flu virus, cold weather / travel chaos and VAT increase are really nothing more than distractions that sell newspapers. Keep your focus.
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Mike Waterton
Goal Setting

Home business

Tunbridge Wells - Kent - England

Jan. 2, 2011 - PRLog -- 1.   Ask: What went well over the last 12 months? Take the emotion away and just be subjective. Measure your sales / profit against your budget, but also go deeper and look at how you have ended the year where you did. What did you do that went well? Could you replicate it again now? How many new clients did you win? How will they become better clients in the future? By analysing what you have achieved in a positive way, you will see that overall you have done very well. The last two years have not been kind to small businesses so we must take all the positives that we can.

2.   Ask: What could have gone better? Again try not to become too emotive with this one. So long as you can learn from your mistakes and you don’t make the same one twice, the lessons from last year will help you in 2011. Where did you waste money? Who didn’t pay you? Why did you pay for that advert in the local paper that generated zero business? Make it a goal to be extra careful with money over the next 12 months. Prudence will pay off. Come 2012 the cameras of the world will be upon us because of the Olympics. So the powers that be a have a year to get our finances in order before we all smile for the media. That means many people will excise caution when it comes to spending. You may want these people as customers but until they are confident in spending, you will have to be as sensible as the rest of us.

3.   What will you do in 2011? From the previous two questions the answers to the third question should appear. Doing more of what really worked for you and avoiding what cost you in 2010 is your starting point. The rest of this blog are ways to help you achieve a lot more this year.

4.   Only spend your marketing budget on Direct Response Marketing – Unless you are a global brand (E.G. Nike, Gillette, Nissan, HSBC) there is no point in spending on an advert just because it looks nice. It may appeal to your ego to see your company name on a big billboard on the way to the town centre or to see your logo sponsoring a busy roundabout, but can you honestly measure the ROI to your business? The answer is no – so don’t do it. Only spend on direct response marketing where you can measure your time and money invested against what you get back.  Finding more people like that is in tip numbers five and six.

5.   Test Drive new ways of Marketing – I do not wish to be paradoxical – do not spend on brand advertising. All that does it make directories rich and their sales people commission. The consumer has changed. We now get on average 3000 marketing messages a day. You will only attract new clients if you position yourself where they can find you when they need you. So my advice is to test some new ways of marketing your company. Set a budget, a time frame and your expectations for the following: pay per click marketing, email marketing, direct mail, telesales and loyalty schemes. By looking at new ways to find your clients you will soon see what works and doesn’t. Drop what didn’t work and then invest your time and money in what does.

6.   Attend networking events – in the hierarchy of buying, new customers are often the ones where you make the least amount of profit. To win a new client through direct mail or telesales it is usually a decision based on price. To ensure you also encourage better quality / higher margin business, you need to build a network of contacts that not only know you, but like and trust you too. Networking is the most fun way to do this. It does take time and effort you will not make your fortune overnight. But it is an activity I promise you that brings results. Networking is cheap (sometimes even free!), easy to do and a great way of meeting new people.  Find out what networking groups happen in your area. Then find the ones that work for you. Some are breakfast meetings, others are a coffee break and others are social in bars after “work” has finished. Some are formal where name badges are worn and presentations are made. Others are less formal where people just start conversations with each other and see how things go. You may not be able to do business with everyone in the room, but that is NOT your goal. Your goal is to become the “go to guy / girl” within your industry. When someone has a need for your product or service, those in your networking group will point to you as the person that will help! If you are not doing it already sign up to some face to face networking events today. This more than anything is going to put you in touch with the customers you really want to deal with.

7.   Social media and blogging – Again this is ibtas free but does take time. However if you are not already utilising social media and blogs to win new business you are missing a trick. Earlier I mentioned that we receive 3000 marketing messages a day. Interestingly, buying decisions are influenced as much as or in some cases more than advertising alone by social media web sites. Consumers “listen” to non biased comments from people that have experienced a product or service and make decisions from these comments and opinions. You need to be interacting with this potential client base. Share your ideas / offers and information with as many people as you can. The easiest way to do this is via Twitter (www.twitter.com). If you are still unsure, I offer a 30 minute one on one quick start guide to using Twitter for business. Email me and I will help you for free!

8.   Spend the minimum – sounds obvious but as stated before, we are facing a tough year with cuts and public sector jobs being lost. Talk to suppliers – reduce costs, renegotiate prices and buying terms. Your clients are going to expect more from you so you need to do the same!

9.   Look in to Mobile Marketing – we touched on new testing new marketing earlier, but I really wanted to highlight this one. As you are aware, smart phones outsell computers and laptops by thousands to one. More importantly, most of us are never more than a metre away from our phones, so are always available to market to. Text marketing is already out there. For example you can get offers from hotels and restaurants and you also receive texts when you use a telephone directory service from your mobile. Consumers delete many emails before they are read, but there is an appeal of text messages. We nearly always read them.  Make the effort to look in to this and may be use it as part of your test marketing.

10.   Measure your results better – you need to have a quick and easy way to measure the results from you new marketing activity. You should also look at a good ROI of 20-30 times what you spend. A goal must be something you can measure. E.G. goal is to have 50 followers on Twitter within 6 weeks and a new client from a networking event in 6 months. Measure everything you test. Stop what fails and do more of what brings you the income you are aiming for.

11.   Overhaul your web site – if you still think that your web site is your on line brochure, you are really not benefitting from the internet in a big way. You could be losing out on 100’s of new opportunities each week if your web site lacks fresh content and interactive functionality. To be a winner in 2011 your web site needs you blog on a weekly basis,  a video advert (placed in You Tube), audio clips – speeches / adverts / radio interview exerts / hints and tips etc. Data capture: you need a way of obtaining names and email addresses automatically (if you offer a free news letter or free report in exchange for an email address, many will take up your offer). You need to set up an auto responder to recognise and communicate with those who give you their contact details. You need accounts with Twitter, Face book and Linked in with the buttons on your web site so that people can start following  / connecting with you from your home page.

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