I’m just going to come out and say it. I hate New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all been there. You start the new year with a spirit of optimism, trying to do something new to make your life better — starting a diet, signing up for a gym membership, being nice to other people — and it never lasts more than a few days. Going into 2019, if you want to make serious progress in your business in 2019, your business needs something stronger and more sustainable than a New Year’s Resolution. After all, as we’ve all demonstrated in our personal lives — by being unable to stop eating carbs and being unwilling to schlep to the gym in the middle of winter — it’s highly unlikely to make immediate, transformative changes. It’s more reasonable to make progress by building upon the successful characteristics that we already have. Let’s call them “New Year’s Nudges.”
Here are a few sales and marketing “New Year’s Nudges” to help your business grow in 2019.
1. Keep your current customers.
Don’t take your existing customers for granted. When most entrepreneurs or sales people are thinking about sales goals for 2019, they tend to think in terms of the new, not the old. They get excited about new business and new customer acquisition. It often sounds more exciting to go out and find new customers, expand into new markets, and otherwise bring in fresh shiny new business. However, in order to grow, you need to keep your current clients happy. It’s not boring, it’s safe!
Your existing customer base represents one of your biggest opportunities for sales growth, just by selling more to the people who already know you, trust you and are buying from you. Every dollar counts the same, whether it’s a dollar you get from a new customer or an existing customer. Keep in mind that your ongoing client relationships have a significant lifetime value in terms of the thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars that you will earn in revenue from that one client over the (hopefully) many years you have of doing business together.
So as you start your new year, be sure to show some appreciation to your existing customers. Check in with them. Listen to them. Make sure you’re paying attention to their issues and addressing any concerns before it becomes a problem. The best way to grow your business is to have a solid foundation of loyal, existing customers. Then you can have the confidence and stability to go after some big new accounts.
2. Reassess your marketing spend.
The new year is a great time to step back and take a big picture look at how you’re spending money on marketing. What worked last year? Which tactics were surprisingly effective and which channels underperformed? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it’s worth taking time to reassess where your marketing dollars are going and whether you should try something new. Think of marketing as an “investment portfolio.” Ideally, you should have a well-diversified portfolio of different types of marketing tactics, including inbound lead generation, outbound lead generation, PPC ads, search engine marketing, attending industry events, social media sponsored posts, LinkedIn networking, and maybe even some traditional analog methods like direct mail and cold calling.
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3. Be patient.
Lots of entrepreneurs tend to look at January as a high-intensity time to hit the ground running and come right out of the gate with big progress on sales goals. But this can be a mistake. Don’t assume that just because it’s January, you need to focus on making sales immediately. It’s a 12-month task and there’s nothing magic about January. Your customers might not be ready to buy yet. Depending on your industry, you might have a longer sales cycle. Your buyers might not know what their budgets are yet for the new year; there might be some lag time while they get up to speed and figure out what their needs are for the year ahead. So by all means, make productive use of your time during January, and don’t beat yourself up if you’re not seeing immediate results. Use this time to lay the groundwork for future sales.
4. Take chances.
Always be on the lookout for new solutions, vendors and possibilities to help you grow in 2019. Be prepared to try some new things, test some different messages, try some different platforms — you might need to just find the right combination of marketing channel, marketing message and timing to reach the right audience.
Is there a trade show that you would love to attend, but haven’t wanted to invest in the money to exhibit at? Try it this year. Is there a prospective company that you would love to sell to, but haven’t felt ready to make the pitch? Use this year as your moment to reach out to a few big prospects and start those conversations. As an entrepreneur, fortune favors the bold. No one is going to come down from the heavens and anoint you and say “you’re ready to talk to that Fortune 100 customer.” You have to decide for yourself when you’re ready, and you’re probably already more ready than you realize.
5. Stay focused.
Stop reading these articles, and work on reminders 1-4. But seriously, growing a business is not a matter of making one big move that changes everything. It’s about showing up every day and making incremental progress by staying focused and doing the right things. Don’t expect the new year to bring magical results. Instead, invest in the everyday magic of building customer relationships, doing your research, doing your legwork, thinking big picture about what your company and your customers need, and then taking some calculated risks to try some new things.
New Year’s Resolutions — for your personal life or for your business — shouldn’t feel like “work.” They should be fun and inspiring! Hopefully these little New Year’s Nudges will help point you in the right direction for a successful year ahead. Happy New Year!