Looking Ahead to 2017
As 2016 comes to a close, this month is a particularly valuable interval of time for business owners.
Many of us will reflect on the year that’s passed while also setting goals and projections for the one to come. In this process of mapping the trajectory of a business is where insight lends itself to successful planning, which entails a set of actionable goals charted across the pages of the 2017 calendar. As defined, there’s actually a good argument for a step all its own prior to planning: evidence-based brainstorming.
So, what were your successes last year? Your shortcomings? How will you use those along with the knowledge you’ve acquired and the lessons you’ve learned to better your business in the next year? In what areas can you improve or make the most impactful changes? By carefully examining these questions, you’ll arrive at answers that will be very telling, effectively guiding the entire process that lies ahead.
First off, if you haven’t set aside time strictly for business planning purposes, do it now. While oftentimes it can seem like we’re organically propelled in the right direction as an already well-oiled machine by design, it’s always beneficial to take a step back and examine each fundamental working part of the whole. As William Gibson so accurately poses, “We see in order to move; we move in order to see.”
Short-term, it’s easy to move towards each new day and the next goal, meeting, task, deal, sale—you get the idea—in a continuous loop, but right now presents the best “big picture” opportunity. You don’t need to compromise that momentum by any means, but rather, shoot for whatever will allow you to take a few steps back and focus, bringing clarity to the path ahead in the upcoming 365 days of progress.
Next, and you might have seen this coming from a mile away given my area of expertise, if branding and promotion aren’t a part of the discussion, but growth and development in the coming year are, there’s a critical disconnect that should be addressed immediately.
Given the impressive array of marketing tools available to today’s business owner, analysis prior to action is imperative. Formulating a distinct strategy that captures your target audience, enhances your strengths, addresses your challenges, reinforces your identity in the marketplace, functions as an extension of your goals, and drives the desired results are all of the power players to be considered during your Q&A discovery process.
For those who are in the infancy stage of their marketing efforts, resolving to do as much as possible with what are likely limited resources will be critical to your growth in the coming year. Plan accordingly now so that you can put everything into motion succinctly, and since trial and error will be your guide, find the smartest investments per your budget, but also of your time and effort. And, any time the opportunity for free exposure presents itself or there are value-added perks offered in conjunction with paid promotion, take advantage!
If you’ve got a good thing going already, instead of considering your marketing plan a done deal as it stands, set your sights on what you can do to take it to the next level. I highly recommend scaffolding at the very least – add something new, yet complimentary to your primary efforts, into the media mix and see how it goes this year.
Ultimately, consider the following statistics: 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, and 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders. (Demand Gen Report, 2016) (Source: www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics) Also reflected in the research conducted by the marketing experts at HubSpot, when asked the question “What are your company’s top marketing priorities over the next 12 months?” the most respondents (74%) answered: Converting contacts to leads/customers. This was directly followed by: Growing traffic to website (57%) and Increasing revenue derived from existing customers (46%). I find these to be the top goals for the vast majority of my clients too. Here, turn the answers into questions and ask how each piece of your marketing efforts are working towards these three objectives.
Whether you’re targeting the business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) audience with your marketing efforts (or both!), your goal for your content marketing efforts in the coming year should be much like the impetus for action in The Field of Dreams: “Build it and they will come.”
To learn more about how Strictly Business can help you, contact me directly at (402) 466-3330 or visit StrictlyBusinessOmaha.com/connect. (You can also click on our Staff Letter tab online to view past articles)