Christmas is almost upon us. New Year is not far behind. Let’s hope that Santa brings you everything you wish for in terms of growth for this year and next.
But, have you been good boys and girls this year? Have you done everything you promised you would? Did you follow your New Year’s resolutions in so far as your business development and marketing was concerned?
The market is crowded, and competitors are desperate to grab a share. Many will do that at any cost and therefore, you need to be active, visible, credible and proactive to win and retain business in the coming period. So, what are our 12 Christmas Tips to ensure your business prospers in the next 12 months?
1. Get into Content
Perhaps, whilst content development isn’t a direct method of marketing, it does hit the mark when it comes to attracting and engaging prospective customers. It can make your business more visible and distinguish you from competitors that don’t have articles, blogs, videos and the like on their website. Of course, it isn’t just about your website. Platforms such as LinkedIn and YouTube are ever more important when it comes to what we in the marketing world call ‘eyeballs’. Customers don’t just find you via your website. YouTube is the second largest search engine and many believe that 80%+ of all web searches will involve video in the coming year.
Therefore, you can’t ignore content. A well-thought out article or blog or a good short video that provides a knowledge-based approach as opposed to a sales pitch will endear you to prospects and customers alike. Research your keywords. Look at competitors and what they produce. And, if you can’t write blogs yourself and you don’t have a face for video, consider using a writer and perhaps use other forms of video like cartoon explainers and so on.
2. Up your Proactivity
It’s all well and good waiting for prospects to find you but how likely is that? If you’re a big brand and market leader, it may be that any enquiry starts with a look at your website. If you’re super well-known and you’re the ‘Hoover’ of your industry, you’ll most likely get lots of leads. However, that isn’t the reality for most businesses and, eve the large ones don’t always get onto shortlists. So, whilst we’re advocates of good content and social media engagement, don’t make the mistake of thinking your whole lead generation strategy will be sorted by a few blogs and videos. Take action in the coming months to ensure your sales funnel starts the year full and continues that way.
3. Integrate your Marketing
Somewhat related to our last point, integrated marketing makes sense. Whilst spreading your marketing too thinly rarely works, it is important to ensure that you’re consistent in both the channels you use and the messaging you put out. It’s often said that you need multiple touch points for a customer to decide to reach out to your organisation. Of course, that may not be practical for some. But, if you can at least engage by perhaps attending industry events in your target sector, sending an email (or a series of emails), connecting and messaging on LinkedIn and perhaps conducting an outbound telemarketing campaign, you’ll more likely succeed that if you rely on one sole method of communication. Of course, these are just a few methods. If PPC or exhibiting at events drives your leads, that’s great, However, make sure you’re visible in as many locations as possible so your customer picks you as opposed to one of your competitors.
4. Work out who to Target
Sounds obvious but it certainly helps focus all aspects of your sales efforts if you hone your target market. Many companies can sell to a wide range of organisations. However, those that specialise (in the right areas!), can refine their approaches to be more relevant for their target decision-makers. Focusing in this way allows you to craft targeted messages for whatever route to market you select. It helps for face to face sales people, those on the phone, in emails and LinkedIn messaging, advertising and so on. If you invest your time, money and effort in a sector that you feel best able to penetrate, it means you won’t waste expensive resources elsewhere and drain your budgets.
5. Make Data your Friend
We know it’s boring. But data analysis can seriously positively impact your profitability. You can segment your customers into high, medium and low spending. They can be categorised into current, at risk and lapsed. You can break the down by type of product or service purchased. Prospect data can be analysed using several criteria. LinkedIn contacts can be segmented by industry, job role and even 1st, 2nd and 3rd level contacts. Ideally, your campaigns should be driven by data analysis. However, data quality is always an issue. Ensure that you devote time and resources to updating your database on a reasonably regular basis. Ill targeted marketing will fail. If your target decision-maker or customer to whom you haven’t spoken to in a while has left the organisation, you’d better find the right contact. An investment in data building and validation will reap benefits in the long run.
6. Focus on the Customer
The trouble is it’s always about you! Too frequently, communication goes out that is internally focused and motivated. It’s all too often about products and services and features as opposed to genuine benefits to the customer. Work out what challenges your customers face. Understand why they buy in addition to knowing what they buy. Try to ensure that any collateral that you produce comes at things from the customer perspective. If you’re on the phone or face to face with a prospect or customer, learn to ask good questions. Ensure you listen carefully. Demonstrate that you care. Rarely is it a bad thing to spend more tie listening than talking. Most individuals like to offload and whilst your role isn’t to be an agony aunt, rapport-building will help to secure larger orders if they trust you and your communication isn’t like a sleazy salesman.
7. Work the Numbers in your Favour
To some extent, despite what we’ve said in terms of focus and targeting, it is still a numbers game. If you undertake an insignificant amount of activity to fill your sales funnel, it’s likely that it will remain empty. Not everyone has unlimited funds so, once again, you need to really identify what means of marketing is likely to give you the best bang for buck. However, lack of impetus rarely works. In telemarketing, for example, whilst a lot of time goes into audience definition and list building, people are out of the office. They are off sick. Some have left. Others are in meetings. Therefore, an insufficient number of calls is likely to mean failure. If your objective is significant growth, it’s probable that significant action will be required, and you need to work the numbers.
8. Devise a Strong Call to action
Why should customers bother? They probably have incumbent suppliers who are doing an okay job. The products they use are probably good for a few more months or years. Inertia reigns. Often prospects and customers make do with the status quo. They have other priorities. They are busy. They can even be lazy and/or risk averse. They may be restricted by limited budgets. So, you need to give them a reason to get off their personal fence. You need to give them a reason to engage with you. Perhaps, it’s early days in their buying cycle. Whatever their situation, a strong call to action can worm wonders. It doesn’t have to be some crazy 75% off deal that’s too good to be true. It could be an insightful white paper. It could be a breakfast event. It could be a unique new product. However, you do it, a good call to action will support your new year’s lead generation.
9. Don’t Give Up
Flogging dead horses is a bad strategy. Yet, persistence is a key determinant of success. Building a bit of a backbone helps. Business has its ups and downs. You get rejection. Customers come and go. The big client you were counting on landing decided to go elsewhere. Doors get slammed. Phones get put down. Email bounce and go unread. It happens. The best salespeople pick themselves up, learn from errors and move on. They get back on the horse. It’s well documented that the famous basketball player, Michael Jordan said that the reason for his success was that he missed more baskets than anyone. The number of attempts enabled him to also score more than anyone. Plan to succeed and focus on your new year goal and you will be less likely to miss your targets.
10. Use Systems to your Advantage
A good CRM system is worth its weight in gold. It ensures that you don’t miss opportunities. There are lots of low-cost CRM systems on the market that can be adapted on a per-user basis. It means that everything is in one place and you can integrate campaigns across multiple channels. It also means that multiple users can interact with information. Using spreadsheets is so last decade. Whilst they have come a long way too, it isn’t the way to manage your marketing. Investment in systems to improve your productivity is a good idea. Systems facilitate analysis as we mentioned above and allow you to build those targeted campaigns. Good notes on your system ensure that follow-ups that are made at just the right time with your targets aren’t wasted due to poor records.
11. Put a Smile on your Face
We had a pretty tough time during the last recession. The tap was well and truly turned off for many marketing companies and we found that it became harder to retain and recruit new customers. Stuff gets inn the way of being positive. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned. Without for one second minimising the things that some people go through, whatever your situation, it rarely pays to mope around and act negatively. Burying your head in the sand is a bad strategy too. People still buy people. And, prospects and customer sense if you aren’t upbeat. It can be a challenge sometimes to act positive if you don’t feel it. However, it’s essential if you want to attract business to you and your company.
12. Set Ambitious Targets
Clearly, silly targets don’t help anyone, and they demotivate when their patently out of reach. But, we believe that there is law of karma that if you set your sights on a goal, you’re more likely to reach it. Momentum creates more momentum. And, even if you don’t hit your maximum target, you’re more likely to get closer to it than if you lowball. We all remember Roger Bannister and the 4-minute mile. Commentators felt it was impossible. Yet, immediately after he achieved the milestone, others followed. In personal and business life you must push the boundaries if you want to achieve good things. If you set an ambitious goal, you’ll always be focused on how to achieve those targets. And, you’ll build plans that take you towards those objectives.
Make the New Year your best yet. We hope that, in some small way, these tips propel you to great heights in your business.