It’s December, and the holidays are right around the corner. But in order for things to go right in your business in 2018, you need to start planning now. Do you want with just another year where you end up in reactionary mode? What are you going to make happen in the new? Hire staff? Request a new line of credit? Develop a new product? Enhance your content strategy? Pick a few things and start working on them while the rest of the world is off for the holidays. Here are 10 things you should take action on in your business before 2018.
Schedule a Retreat: Every January, I hold a retreat with my key team members so that we can set up our sales game plan for the year. We set the annual sales goals, and our monthly sales goals. As a team, we also identify key targets we’ll pursue for business, and we make decisions about what our product offering will be for the coming year. You need to decide on a retreat in the new year now, people need to make travel plans and you need to hire a facilitator or decide if you have someone in house who can organize the agenda and activities. Your team needs to get to know each other outside of business too.
Tweak Your Sales Strategy: Develop a new sales strategy for your business in 2018. What is going to be your main offering to the marketplace? How will you generate leads? How will qualify the leads? Will you hire a sales person this year? Do you have any upsells for your existing customers? Your sales pipeline need to start off the year ready to go. Do you have an email campaign to roll out to generate interest? Will you start using mobile advertising? Webinars? Or a New Giveaways to attract prospects? Put together a budget that will help you plan for what’s needed to implement the new sales strategy.
Update Your Website: Your website is your #1 sales tool; and more most people are looking at it from a mobile device. You need to make sure your website is simple and engaging on mobile first. It’s way more than having a responsive site. Take a look at your website navigation. How many choices are there? How fast does your site load? Are your calls to action simple to see on mobile? It might be time to invest in Mobile SEO. You might not need to do a complete overhaul, but mobile is really important so make sure your website speaks to mobile visitors. You should add video too, but less is more and remember subtitles. Look at your Google analytics to see your most popular content, and what is generating the most referral traffic.
Engage Customers: How often do you call your customer? Magic happens over the phone, especially when you build a friendship with your customers. Keep track of people. Sometimes People switch positions or companies this time of the year, so be in touch. You also need to find out when the budget cycle is so that you can learn about potential opportunities. Reach out to at least 10 current and former customers a day for the next two weeks.
Make a Promotional Calendar: Look at your business by quarter to map out what promotions you’ll be running this year. What month will you launch your new product? Do you have an annual promotion that is a tie-in with national events or holidays like “St. Patrick’s Day,” or “Back to School” or “Halloween”? Start planning your special promotions now, so your team won’t feel like they are running from fire to fire getting ready for the latest marketing promotion.
Evaluate Your Social Media Strategy: Everyone is using social media, but it might be time at add something new. Think about creating a podcast. Facebook and Instagram are the fastest growing social platforms and people are spending more time there. Live video streaming is really coming on too. Don’t overwhelm yourself, choose one new thing to add to your social media mix. Whether you are doing an ecommerce business, selling professional services or in retail, you should be using social media to engage prospects.
Develop a new Sales Funnel: You need to have a way to capture an email address nurture and educate a prospect then sell something to them. You might need to invest in clickfunnels.com or a professional copy writer to help you develop the email series. Leverage email marketing tools like Infusionsoft, Aweber or MailChimp, to set up a sales funnel using an auto responder series of emails that goes out on selected dates after someone downloads a free offer from your website. You should develop a new sales funnel for 2018 before the year is out.
Send Direct Mail: Targeted direct mail has made a comeback. All the online clutter makes it easier for you to standout if your mailer shows up in their box. Try a double-sided postcard to keep the bulk postage price low. Coupons are great to offer this way. If you’re a pizza shop, for example, you could send your customers an offer for 20% off on Tuesdays, if that is your slowest day of the week. Direct mail can spark repeat business.
Invest in Online Ads: Paid ads are now a necessary method of marketing. There are lots of options from Retargeting, Google AdWords Express, Facebook Ads, Mobile SEO, and Mobile ads are major things to consider in 2018. Always test your campaign first, then invest in a longer campaign. Some platforms, such as Facebook, allow to you target ads to your existing email list or website visitors which allows you to stay in front of them all over the internet.
Review 2017 Results: What were your revenues over last year? And your profitability? What was your website traffic? Most shared content? Top keywords? Who are your best customers? How many proposals went out? What was your close ratio? How many revenue streams does your business have? Is it time for a brand refresh? Do you need to realign your team? Put together a list of wins for the year and a list of what went wrong. The process will help you to think about what you can do better and help establish your small business goals for 2018.
Do you have any more key task suggestions for 2018?