By Steve Henke, Founder & President of Harpeth Marketing
By the time you read this article, the 2018 calendar year will be more than 2/3 over. How has it gone for you so far? Have you started thinking about 2019?
Before 2018 ends and you start scrambling to get ready for next year, now is the time to do a little prep work, a little planning, and a little thinking. To help you get next year off to a strong marketing & sales start, consider implementing these 6 activities…
1. Take a look at 2018 to date… and do a little measuring.
For example, take look at:
- Your Google Analytics numbers: how many people are visiting your website, where did they come from and what pages are they visiting?
- Did you do any email marketing this year? Look at your open rates and click-thru rates to help you understand what kinds of subject lines and topics resonate with your readers.
- How’s your social media marketing? Are you growing your followers and connections? Are you truly engaging with the marketplace… or do you just have a presence?
- From a sales perspective, are you adding new prospects to your pipeline and tracking movement through it? How about conversions… bids vs. wins?
- And look at your revenue in several ways: year-to-date vs. last-year-to-date, year-to-date vs. goal, by service line and by industry served.
This kind of data will serve as the foundation for your marketing & sales planning for next year.
2. Clean up your databases.
I know… not a very sexy activity, but very important.
- Go through your sales database/CRM and clean up any obvious typos, incomplete records, mis-formed email addresses, etc. Also, get rid of any competitors… or at least keep them clearly segmented.
- Do you have the right fields available (and filled in)? These are needed for list segmentation.
- Look at the “bounce-backs” from your email marketing to help clean-up your email addresses.
- Compare your LinkedIn contacts to your sales database – it will show you who’s changed companies; most people are pretty good at keeping their LinkedIn profile up to date.
- Keep your social media connections & followers clean, too. One obvious place is with your Twitter followers. If you’ve got a follower that you really don’t want to be there (competitor, spammy or otherwise inappropriate), simply ‘block’ them.
3. Is it time to spruce up your website?
Not a full-blown overhaul, but just a little freshening up…
- Make sure any new services/products are listed on the site.
- The same goes for any new employees, clients, locations, recent news, etc.
- Do you have icons on every page for connecting to your social sites?
- Is it time for some new imagery or splashes of color?
- Been a while since you posted to your blog? There’s no time like the present to get back into it.
- Is your site mobile-optimized? With a large percentage of your website visitors on hand-held devices, make it happen before January.
- Go through an SEO audit… then update your content to match the top keywords and phrases.
4. Draft a marketing and sales plan for 2019.
This can be a pretty big undertaking, but for now…
- At the very least, write down the marketing & sales activities you’ll commit to next year.
- Create a budget and commit to investing in marketing & sales.
- Make sure you’ve got some basic way to measure your activities… so you know what’s working and what’s not.
- And most importantly, put all of these activities into a calendar, assign responsibilities and then share the calendar with all involved.
- Note 1: as part of your 2019 plan… commit to “doing something” every day/every week/every month.
- Note 2: as you think about your goals for next year, don’t just focus on the end result… set goals for the activities that will help you achieve the end result. E.g. number of sales calls per week, frequency of social media posts, etc.
5. If you’re going to send out holiday cards and gifts… get to work on it now.
Give yourself plenty of time to come up with something creative and memorable that you know your clients will appreciate.
6. Get out of the office.
Lastly, as a way to prepare to be successful with all of the activities above, consider taking your senior leadership on a retreat away from the office. Get away to a cabin in the woods and start discussing some of the high-level topics that can significantly impact your business:
- New products or services
- New processes or people
- Why you really lose clients
- Competitor activity
- Key account strategies
- New technologies to consider
- Differentiating your firm
- Level of commitment to marketing & sales
- Goals/aspirations for 2019
So, even if 2018 was a good year… now is the time to start working on 2019 to make it a great one! Good luck.
If you’d like some help thinking through and preparing for growth in 2019, register for the Think. Plan. Do. Workshop™, an online program that takes place over 3 weeks in October. You’ll graduate from this Workshop with a complete, customized marketing & sales program all laid out for 2019. For complete details and registration information, Click Here.