Tips for a More Successful 2014

2014 is soon going to be upon us, and while many businesses are just trying to get through the holidays and the post-holiday returns, many businesses are finishing off their 2014 marketing strategy. If you haven’t even thought of yours yet, or just plan to recycle last year’s marketing strategy, think again. Just like you will need a new calendar for next year, you will also need a new marketing strategy.

A recent survey was conducted of various small businesses to see what their biggest concerns were for the coming year. Many of you surely share the same ones, even if it is not in the same order.

The top five concerns in order of importance were:

  1. Finding new customers
  2. Healthcare for themselves and employees
  3. Keeping current customers
  4. Paying their business bills
  5. Hiring good employees

While none of these concerns are directly related to marketing, each one of them can be accomplished with a solid marketing plan in 2014. With a good marketing plan you will attract new customers and retain your current ones. You will have the funds needed to pay for healthcare and the bills for your business. Having a successful business will also attract better employees who wish to work for a great company, and you’ll have money to pay them better than your competition. All of this from a solid marketing plan.

What makes a solid marketing plan? One that puts the customers’ needs first, and your business’ needs second and your business in a class by itself. Here are just six tips to develop such a plan.

Develop a budget for marketing
A quarter of business owners admit they budget or spend little to nothing for marketing, and over half that do budget and spend money on marketing do so for less than $500 a month. The majority of small businesses who do spend anything on marketing spend less than $250 a month.

In the coming year, be part of the growing group that not only allocates money for marketing, but also spends it wisely. You can see that you do not need to break the bank to do marketing. Invest wisely in what works for your store; if something doesn’t work, stop doing it and find something new that does work. Talk with fellow small business owners, especially non-tackle retailers and find out what works for them. See how you can use their ideas in your store and get them to work. The key is to not do nothing – that will get you nothing in return.

Have a quality website
2014 will see even more of an explosion in the digital world as more and more stores go online. Having a quality website is more important now than ever before. If you do not have a site yet, then make 2014 the year you do get one. If you do have a site, how is it performing? If it needs to be updated or streamlined, make that part of your 2014 marketing plan. While either building your new site or streamlining your current site, think of how it performs on mobile platforms. Consider creating either a truly mobile site or modifying your site to be optimized on mobile devices. Far more consumers are accessing the web from mobile devices and having a site that doesn’t perform on a mobile platform will cost you customers and more money than it will take to make a site mobile-compatible.

Be on the lists
Whether it is a business directory in your hometown, your local yellow pages, Superpages.com, Bing, Yelp, or Google, be sure your business is listed and the listing is accurate. If it is not there or there is erroneous information, fix it. While you may not get all new customers from such listings, each one you do get is found money. Many of these listings are free and should be put to use. You may also find new employees from such listings.

Develop a review policy
Restaurants thrive off of reviews, and so do many other businesses even though they do not realize it. Learn how to deal with negative reviews and how to correct them if possible. In the same light, develop a plan on how to accentuate the positive reviews you receive and ways to showcase them to other customers or potential customers. Every positive endorsement you receive should be shared with others; no business ever lost customers from getting too many good reviews.

Get More Social
Develop an even more robust social media strategy for the coming year. It can be to add just one more social media outlet, or to post more often. No matter what your plan was for 2013, make 2014’s even bigger. The more engagements you can make online, the more engagements you will make in your store as well. Host a follower’s event in your store if you want to meet people face to face; just do something new and watch the great returns you get from it.

Measure your results
Was your 2013 marketing plan a true success? Will 2014’s plan be even better? If you do not measure your results from each aspect of your marketing plan, how will you know? The few moments it may take you to measure your results at the end of each month to see if your marketing plan is working or not will pay off. It will help you truly quantify what is working and what is not working. There is no better way to gauge the results than by looking at each one individually. Waiting a whole year to do so will cost you more than the time you save by putting it off until then.

These six ideas are just a few of the ways you can be more successful in the new year. Take a few moments to think of your own ways and how you can improve on these. What ideas do you already have for 2014 to help your business be more successful? Share them with us on our Facebook page or in our LinkedIn group and see what others are doing.