No one could argue that our world isn’t changing fast—and I don’t mean just technology-wise. Consumers aren’t spending like they once did, manufacturing and shipping costs are fluctuating wildly, and the age of the environment is slowly (finally) being ushered in. On top of that, the Internet has finally really changed the way people shop and buy – not to mention the way we entrepreneurs market our businesses.
If you don’t change your business, and your marketing, to keep up with changing times you can easily become another failure statistic.
Think about it…five years ago MySpace was all the rage. Since then its usage has dropped dramatically, you hardly ever hear about it anymore. You never run into a business owner giving MySpace any time or thought now.
So to help you thumb your nose at all the dire economic news and make 2012 your best ever, here’s my list of 7 things you can do to make it happen.
1) Make a list of what worked and didn’t work in 2011.
Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, right? So take a step back and look at where you’ve been. For those initiatives that didn’t work, consider why. Was it the right timing, the right offer, the right target market? Could you have done more marketing? Better marketing?
2) Create a marketing plan.
Yeah, I know. You know you need one but who has the time – or know how – to put one together, right? That’s why I advocate writing a 2-page marketing plan. On the first page, list where you are now (gross and net income, numbers of new and repeat clients or customers, amount you currently work and earn, etc.). Then set goals for where you’d like to be in a year for each of those.
On page two, choose three marketing strategies you’re going to use to achieve those goals (public speaking, email marketing, direct mail, etc.). Include an actual to-do list of steps you need to take to implement each one, as well as due dates for each step.
3) Look to external partners.
Great businesses aren’t built by sitting alone in an office. Any entrepreneur can find someone else to interview, refer clients to, or trade promos to each other’s lists. So seek strategic partnerships and Joint Ventures. And develop a support network of at least one other entrepreneur who’s headed in your same direction you can go to for advice – or hire an experienced coach or consultant. That way you don’t waste a lot of time and money reinventing the wheel.
4) Focus on helping, not selling.
If your business is solely about making money, you’re likely to run into big problems trying to grow. Instead, think about your customer’s wants, needs, problems and goals, and how you can help them. Help them achieve their goals, and you’ll automatically achieve your own.
5) Update your Website.
The Web is one of the least expensive and most effective places to market your business. But with all the competition out there, you can’t just throw up a basic Website and expect it to do much for you. Your site needs to be planned out and built to be an effective salesperson that connects with your ideal client – not just an online brochure that’s all about you and what you do.
6) Stop doing everything yourself.
As an entrepreneur, if you want something done the reality is you probably shouldn’t be doing it yourself. Focus your time and energy on the things you’re best at, and that grow your business and make money. Leave the rest to a team of skilled Virtual Assistants.
7) Have a life.
It’s wonderful if you’re passionate about what you do. But all work and no play makes anyone unhappy and eventually burned out. And if you’re married or in a relationship I’d be willing to bet it’s making two (or more) people unhappy. Do something you love outside of work, get some exercise every day, and make time for friends and family. You’ll be more successful, and happier!