If you’re like most business people, you have spent the past week or month reviewing your goals for 2016. A brand new year stretches before us, ready to deliver the achievements or “wins” you desire.
It does require some mental work to figure out what you want for your business in 2016. If you don’t create a plan for your success, you won’t get it. Most people realize that setting goals is something they need to do in order to accomplish what they want in life.
But knowing how to set the right goals is the true secret for reaching success. This is especially true with marketing. Many businesses and entrepreneurs get so caught up with product or service development that they believe marketing will take care of itself.
“Build it and they will come” was a great idea for the movie “Field of Dreams” but it doesn’t work well in the marketplace. You need a smart plan and then execute that plan smartly.
Here are a few resolutions that if followed, will put you on the road to success.
#1: Decide WHO you want to reach and WHY they should care.
This may be one of the more difficult tasks for a business owner. When you create a wonderful service or product, you’d like to think that just about anyone could benefit from it.
You may be right.
But the reality is that if you create marketing materials that are meant to appeal to “everyone,” you’ll attract no one.
Start 2016 off right by identifying specific vertical markets. Possible verticals could be: financial, healthcare, government, automotive, energy, education, and manufacturing.
A helpful resource is the free NAICS/SIC search tool (The North American Industry Classification System and the Standard Industrialization Classification code). The search tool will help you identify both codes with just a few clicks of your mouse. Plus, you’ll be able to drill down to sub-groups and view how many U.S. businesses exist in that particular industry.
Your local library is also an excellent resource for finding information on a particular industry. I can access many of my library’s resources online without having to visit the main branch. One of my favorites is Reference USA.
There are 24 million businesses and four million new businesses listed on Reference USA. You can find information for individual companies such as annual revenue, number of employees, and how much they spent on certain services such as telecommunications or technology. It can let you know whether they’d be a good prospect for your services.
Once you decide on the type of businesses you want to reach, you then need to figure out why they should care about what you have to offer. Taking the time to plan this is like laying the foundation for a house. Once you figure out who you want to reach and how your service or product will help them – everything else will fall into place.
You’ll find it much easier to develop your web copy, your special reports, webinars, and all of your marketing collateral. Once you define your target market, you’ll be able to focus on their needs and present your business as the perfect solution.
#2: Commit yourself to updating your blog on a regular basis.
I cannot stress this enough. We have reached the point where business blogging is no longer an option but a requirement – if you want to remain competitive. The Internet has irrevocably changed the sales process.
Organizations have multiple employees, from admin assistants to the C-level suite, and all of them are conducting frequent searches for solutions online. This means they check blogs. They want to understand what you offer and why they should trust you.
And few things demonstrate your expertise like a blog.
Google has been constantly changing their algorithms to deliver better search results and those who rank high are the ones who consistently refresh the content of their site with valuable, relevant information. In other words, those who update their blog more often than once a month will see results.
In 2013, I conducted my own blogging experiment.
When I first started this blog in September 2012, I blogged like a lot of business owners. I did it when I was able, which wasn’t too often. I reasoned that I would post something when I had something worthwhile to say.
The problem was, I didn’t focus on the blog because I was too busy with other tasks. The blog continued to take a back seat to everything else I was doing.
Then on June 6, 2013, I attended the Ohio Growth Summit and heard S. Anthony Iannarino talk about his own blog. When he became intentional about it and committed to updating it daily, everything changed.
He started to get more keynote speaking opportunities. And more clients started to seek him out. All because he made the decision to update his blog on a regular basis.
I originally thought Anthony updated his blog Monday – Friday and thought I’d do the same (I quickly learned he actually updates his blog every day of the week. Whew!).
He shared a funny story about a colleague cornering him and saying, “Anthony, what are you doing? You’re giving away everything you know for free! And by the way, how are you getting all those cool speaking gigs and new clients?”
The audience laughed as he said this because they knew a well-maintained blog can do wonders for your business.
So here are my own stats:
I compared my blog’s activity: January 1, 2013 – June 6, 2013 to June 7, 2013 – December 31, 2013.
On June 7, I committed to updating my blog Monday – Friday. I have missed a few days but still, the results are astounding.
- My blog visits increased by 725.38%.
- Unique visitors increased by 752.66%.
- My pageviews increased by 628.04%.
As a result of this increased activity, several clients found me through their own searches and one turned into a long-term client.
And my experiment isn’t quite over. I still haven’t been doing this for a full year. I expect by June to have even more clients because of my blog.
Although you may be thinking, “there’s no way I can update my blog daily,” try doing more than what you’re doing now. If before you posted once a month, try posting four times a month. If you’ve been posting once a week, try twice or three times a week.
The point is, there’s a lot of noise in the marketplace and you will be overlooked unless you start making your presence known more often.
Work on creating a blogging schedule with specific topics to cover on a monthly or weekly basis. Hammer on your strengths in your posts. Know your target audience.
If you use Google Analytics for your website, you can check to see the demographics of your visitors – their age, gender, and interests. Use that information to develop your content, coupled with your industry focus.
Ask employees to contribute on a regular basis. The important part of a blog is relevant information. You can always outsource employee content to an editor to sharpen the copy. Designate a strong writer in your organization to tackle the breaking news stories so you can quickly get your perspective out in the world before the story is old news.
With some planning and help from other team members, you can have a fresh, engaging blog in 2014 that will keep your visitors interested and willing to share your content with others. And in the process, prospects will be attracted to your site and some will become clients.
#3: Invest in a consistent email marketing strategy.
Some businesses may think a monthly company newsletter or email are outdated marketing tools and therefore, not effective.
You’d be surprised. Many people enjoy receiving new information regarding your industry. But they don’t want to receive a constant barrage of pitches.
I’ll say it again in a different way: your prospects and customers don’t want to be sold non-stop.
A monthly newsletter allows you to gain that important marketing advantage, namely “top of mind awareness.” Frequent emails give them information and also keep them informed about your business.
I created our free, monthly newsletter “Morning Copy” in May 2013. I included in the mailing list prospects, current clients and past clients.
I was surprised by the response. After adding a few past clients to my mailing list, three of them contacted me to tell me what a great job I did with the newsletter. And one of them hired me for more work.
In fact, this particular client, for whom I had done a few projects in 2012, said, “I have to compliment you on your newsletter. And you know, I wouldn’t have thought to contact you again but then your newsletter came and I remembered what we had done together.”
That’s the power of a newsletter.
If you do dive in to create one, there are a few things to remember.
1. Always make your content about your audience, never yourself.
2. Don’t use too much space to sell your service or product. Again, only present information your reader can use.
3. Be consistent with your delivery. My newsletter used to go out every other Tuesday, twice a month. It was sent at 5:45 AM. My list knows that they’ll be getting that newsletter at that time. The more consistent you can be, the better. Now I send a daily email, Monday – Friday. It goes out between 6:00 AM – 7:00 AM.
Creating a newsletter and daily emails have challenged me to provide content that goes a little deeper than my blog. It also has allowed me to re-purpose some content. I usually post on my blog some of the articles and emails I’ve written or developed some blog post ideas more thoroughly for my main article.
The big benefit of having a newsletter is that it’s one more way for you to stay in touch with your prospects and clients. My list is growing and it would take me weeks to personally call everyone or email them in order to stay in touch.
A newsletter allows you to do this quickly and easily. You never know when a past client or prospect will need you, but if they’re receiving your newsletter, they’ll have an easy access to you when they do. Plus, they’ll be able to share your content with others and in turn, build your in-house list.
Newsletters are a great way to cultivate relationships and another opportunity to demonstrate value. There are plenty of email service providers that offer email templates for newsletters.
I believe these three resolutions will make a huge difference to your business. I would love to hear your results, so please send me your story. I’d like to feature more “real world” results from my readers and if you’re interested in participating, just email me.
I’m rooting for you to completely rock this New Year straight outta the park! Best wishes for a spectacular year.