Every January, millions of people make resolutions to trim down, shape up, or otherwise improve their lives. Just like individuals, businesses have much to gain (or lose) from the annual ritual. In fact, research shows that entities that specifically define their goals are far more likely to succeed. Along with the milestones reached, you’ll gain momentum to carry you through even more.
As the year begins, consider where your business should concentrate efforts. Here are top targets of industry leaders:
1. Get to Know Your Customer Better — Starting your resolutions with a generic “improve sales” won’t get you anywhere. It’s too vague, and it’s unclear who’s tasked to do what. A more effective approach is learning who your customers are — and how you can better serve them. This can begin as easily as opening up the dialogue. Few companies give customers a meaningful way to interact with them, and many turn off two-way social media because "it’s too much work to respond" or — yikes! — they might get a complaint that others can see. If you have a decent business, the likelihood of being bombarded by social media criticism is slim. And when a complaint does come, it’s a chance to improve your company — and show the world of your noble efforts in your response.
Consider some other easy opportunities. Offer feedback and comment cards at your store or a survey off your website. Host a contest for “If our company only had _____” or “Three new products/services you’d like to see.” If you have a face-to-face business, simply ask your customer what you're doing right and what you could be doing better. The resulting information can give you loads of great insights to grow customers — and “improve sales.”
2. Leverage Your Data — Phone calls, personal interactions, loyalty programs, sales transactions, website cookies, and other elements are constantly capturing customer data. Yet, most small to mid-sized businesses don’t do a thing to use it. Even if you lack internal marketing or data expertise ... or simply don’t have the creative energy, there’s really no excuse. Marketing services providers like Digital Lizard can help you create a powerful — and measurable — new business development or customer loyalty campaign that can leverage your data and bring new results. But why stop there? Use your data to refine your customer emails, account executive efforts, and R&D. In today’s landscape, customer data is the great differentiator. Don’t overlook its importance.
3. Become an Expert — The most powerful companies are those that command a niche. Think Starbucks or Aquafina. They provide pretty basic products — coffee and water — but they do it better than anybody else. Moreover, they generate excitement about what might otherwise be ho-hum. Every industry has its unique niches to command competitive distinction. This could be specialized abilities or features, like it is for cell phones. Or an understanding of geographies and demographics, as it is with real estate and educational providers. What are the big pushes in your industry? How can you gain the in-demand expertise to stand out?
4. Take Time for Marketing — Marketing can be pricey and time-consuming. And in some cases, its value unclear. For small enterprises or solo entrepreneurs, marketing may simply not seem justified. How familiar is the sentiment: “We can hardly manage the work we have!"
But when work dries up, a large customer bails, or the bank is looking to cash out a loan, many businesses change their tune. But the results of marketing takes time. It can be something that helps a company grow; build a brand; and gain excitement, energy, and recognition that it wouldn't get in the course of doing business. More important, it's an area that no company should be without. Even if it’s simply sending out the periodic postcard, coupon, or newsletter, marketing can bring value you can’t get otherwise. Personalize your pieces, and you can maximize your efforts — at very little added effort or expense.
5. Focus on Your Employees — Whatever other resolutions are on your list, don’t forget about your most important asset. What you do to improve the landscape for your employees will reap rewards in company capabilities, intellectual capital, and customer support (i.e., sales). Rather than fretting over the increased minimum wage, use the opportunity to encourage employees to achieve more. Inspire professional growth and dedication. Tell them how much they are valued, offer training and cross-training, enact some new perqs, provide new college or other educational opportunities. With employees — just as it is with customers — what you put in is what you get out.
Ready to work on some of your own 2017 resolutions?
Need help creating noticeable campaigns for your employees, customers, and prospects?
Contact Digital Lizard at 702.852.3400 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.