By now, 2011 is the rear-view mirror, and most New Year’s resolutions are too. But it’s not too late to think about what’s going to drive your business or organization's growth in the year ahead. With the pace of marketing speeding up thanks to social media and other tools, knowing what's in store — and how you can respond — will better equip you for success moving forward.
Here are six things to focus on as you think about how to drive business success in 2012.
- Start with a plan. Set specific goals. Set one big marketing objective for the year, one for each quarter, and maybe one for each month. Keep them simple, and make sure they're reachable; it’s no fun working toward a goal that you know is not attainable. Don’t waste time on things that won’t help you reach your goals.
- Measure success with your own benchmarks. As you set your goals, be sure to focus on what’s important to your business or organization — whether that's donations per month, gross margins, number of fans/followers on social media, or some other metric. Measure against last year’s monthly numbers. This is easy and it helps to accommodate for naturally slow times of the year. It also gives you a clearer picture of what to expect.
- Experiment. Remember that most people are still relatively new to social media. It’s okay not to be perfect. Try new things and evaluate the results. Measuring what happens is the key — and even if you don’t get the results you want, there is value in the attempt because you can see what didn’t work. Keep what works and throw away what doesn’t. Most importantly: Don’t be afraid to fail. You just might surprise yourself.
- Be mobile friendly. People are relying more and more on their mobile devices to consume and find information. It’s time to give serious consideration to making your digital communications mobile friendly: Make sure your website and your emails are optimized to work with mobile devices. Use mobile tools to grow your email list. Take advantage of location-based services.
- Be authentic. Use your own voice. Social media allows for genuine, personal connections. These tools make it easy and inexpensive to manage many relationships, and to give your audience a real sense of who you are. To do this effectively, write in a conversational tone, the same way you speak, not the way you would write a brochure. Also, use photos and videos of people — yourself, your staff, or your customers/ clients/ supporters (with their permission). And every once in a while, include clues about who you really are, away from work. Maybe you're in a band, or you volunteer for an organization whose mission is important to you. Whatever you’re comfortable with. The point is to pull back the curtains a little bit — these are the messages and posts that your audience will respond to the most.
- Take it offline. As much as we focus on the importance of the online world, nothing holds the same power as getting together in person. Whenever possible, leverage those online acquaintances with offline events that bring people together. You’ll strengthen the relationships that can lead to long-term growth. You can use email and social media to invite people to a special event at your place of business. By phone or in person — in whatever capacity you can manage — these connections will grow to be your strongest and quickest outlet for growth.