This edition is a call to action and a year-end checklist. As 2012 races to a close, it becomes panic time for a lot of business owners. Did you accomplish your goals for the year? Did you stay within your budget and create some innovative ways to be better for your customers? Did you do all you set out to do?
It’s important to finish the year strong, but just as important to plan for the following year. It’s not the time to hide from your marketing or put it on hold, and in fact, we feel like this is really the best time to ramp things up. This is not the time to let your marketing slip into the abyss and then deep into the 2nd quarter of 2013, look around and wonder why there’s nothing happening. There is much out there competing for your customer’s attention and dollars, and you still need to be “top of mind” to them. so here’s a simple checklist to get you going:
- Learn to let go: Seems easy, but people will spend (waste?) hours upon hours to teach themselves things they should have paid an expert to either (1) teach them, or (2) do for them. If you’re struggling with something that you absolutely must do to make your business run, get a professional’s help. The hours of time trying to learn it, understand it, or fix it can be better spent promoting and selling your services, or even perfecting what you do for your clients. A professional will also show you short cuts and tips you would have spent way more time trying to figure out on your own. If you’re trying to learn something “just because”, then ask yourself “can I bill for this time?” Chances are pretty good you’re wasting your precious hours on something you can’t convert into something you can drop into your bank account.
- Email filters: If not for filters, some of us would be choking on inboxes of 1500+ emails, with 100+ new spilling in every day. Instead, make filters for clients, inquiries, and so on, that way they can archive where they should automatically; by letting your email program sort things for you this way, you’ll be looking at the most important stuff first, then act on the other emails accordingly. If you have industry or trade newsletters, set a folder for them as well, coming back to them when you have time to read them.
- Social channels: Whatever ones you’re using, make sure all details are updated, including email addresses, offers, even images. I’m surprised how many businesses have things looking like it’s still summertime. Do you have idle accounts? Decide whether or not you’re going to keep them up and if you’re not, either delete them, or put an “on vacation notice” on them.
- Update your materials: You might have printed stuff last year, but have you added social channels, QR codes, or other items that are not spread across all your collateral? Now’s a good time to get those things current, and that goes double for your website.
- Estimates and proposals: Probably one of the easiest places to lose business is through poor follow through on any proposals or estimates you’ve put out to potential clients. Get on each one of these and resolve one way or the other if these will indeed become business or not. Believe it or not, unfinished business does nag unconsciously and divert attention from the task at hand.
- Leads: Have you cataloged either with a CRM or database method, all the possible leads from business cards, emails and phone calls you have gotten over the year? Get these things in your system so you have a fresh bunch of leads to pursue, and probably house others as you market.
- Memberships and networking: Being part of professional organizations can help with networking and helping you connect with great power partners and other complementary businesses. They can also be a big expense and drain on valuable time you might not have. Be deliberate about deciding where to invest your resources and choose those that best serve the end goal.If you belong to these kinds of groups, make sure you are taking full advantage of the membership by attending events whenever possible, have your listing up to date and participate in showcases as you can. Relying solely on a member directory is one sure way to make your business completely faceless.
- Plan by the quarter: It’s not as daunting as planning the whole year out, plus in bite-size chunks, you might see how some things can spill more effectively into another time of the year.
Every so often, we have to take a serious look at what we’re doing with our business and what we plan to do with it long-term. Hopefully this checklist jumpstarts you thinking about what’s up ahead, so your company doesn’t fall prey to worse things than zombies. We also have zombie repellent services, so give us a call 🙂