It can be tempting at this time of year to invest time and effort in planning your business and marketing strategy for the new year ahead, I would urge you instead to first stop and take stock of the last twelve months.
Setting out new goals is fulfilling but ultimately futile if you have not properly evaluated what has worked, what didn’t and what could be done better.
This year’s challenges were likely to have been somewhat unusual of course, but if you can learn to operate successfully in such an unforgiving climate then I would argue that gives you an exceptional opportunity to really evaluate and improve your business going forward – regardless of what industry you are in.
A good place to start is by reviewing these three key areas:
1. Client feedback:
This is often the most overlooked and undervalued resource available. Your clients can provide relevant, real-world responses to how successful your activities have been this year.
Have they seen your promotional pieces? Were they aware of any media coverage – both good and bad? And don’t forget about any new clients you have taken on this year. Where did they hear about you? Why did they ultimately choose you over your competitors?
2. Return on investment (ROI):
Consider the success of the investment you made over the past year, not just in terms of marketing spend but also other valuable resources such as time and manpower. Is there any area that has taken up a lot of resources but failed to deliver?
How could that have been managed better? Or perhaps you had a particularly successful campaign. What were the winning elements and could you replicate it again in the future?
3. New leads:
For nearly all businesses, continued growth is a key part of success – or, to be completely honest, survival. How much new business did your marketing campaigns ultimately attract? How many potential leads has it generated? And remember to consider all aspects of your promotional activities.
News coverage and advertising are the obvious avenues, but take a good look as well at your social media coverage or even hits on your company website. How well known is your business and brand now compared to 12 months ago?
In addition, consider how well you responded to those unprecedented market events. These are uncertain times for everyone and the demand for valuable thought leadership insight is high. Was your firm nimble enough to respond to these events as they happened? And have you continued to evaluate what the impact is, or could be?
How you and your business view and respond to these changes provides valuable insight for many in the market. It may even prove to be one of the key differentiators for new clients as they seek out stable, successful service providers in the coming months and years ahead.
To me, this is the perfect time to review, evaluate and learn these lessons which will certainly help make your planning for 2017 not just easier, but ultimately more successful.