While many small businesses are focused in on the final month or so of the year, it certainly doesn’t hurt them to be thinking ahead, maybe even making a New Year’s resolution or two. When it comes to marketing your small business, what plans have you put in place for the New Year?
Are you expecting to have a bigger, smaller or comparable marketing budget to 2011? If decreasing your marketing budget, what is the reasoning behind it? If throwing more money behind the marketing budget for 2012, what prompted you to do this? If you expect the budget to be about the same, are there any concerns with not raising it?
In the event your company’s marketing plans are still somewhat up in the air for the coming year, think about these factors as you look to add to your return on investment (ROI) in 2012:
- Put social media to use – Unfortunately, too many small businesses still don’t get social media. While some have really wrapped their arms around it, others have tried their best to stay at arm’s length from it. Given that social media really does not cost money to employ in-house, you’re basically looking at time and effort. Over time, your business will see the benefits of SM and its impact on your return on investment (ROI);
- Review this year’s efforts – It is important before starting the New Year that you go over your 2011 company marketing efforts with a fine-tooth comb. See what worked, what did not work and what you need to do better in the coming 12 months. Successful marketing efforts oftentimes come down to learning from the past and preparing for the future, so make sure you do both. One way you can do this is by having an independent observer review your marketing efforts for the last 12 months. By having someone outside the company give you feedback, you are getting an unbiased review, something that is good even if your efforts take some hits along the way;
- Review your company Web site – Thecompany’s Web site can go a long way in bringing you new customers along with retained business. With the year winding down, take the time to review your site, its content, its search ranking capabilities and more. If your site has stale content, is hard for viewers to surf, and does not utilize strong search engine ranking keywords, it is really not serving its purpose. A strong Web site, however, can be a great marketing tool with which to leverage from;
- Get out of the office and be seen – While more and more businesses are trying to avoid travel due to the expenses, attending networking events such as conferences, seminars, community events etc. prove great ways to let you be seen and heard. Your company should review its networking opportunities and plan on involving itself in the ones that make sense. As an example, attending relative trade shows is a great means to market your product/s and services, meet others in the business, pick up tips on improving your marketing etc.;
- Don’t be one and done – Too often, a business will pull back on a marketing campaign when it is seeing little or no traction. Stop and think, however, how much time is your business really putting into the effort? Your efforts must be repetitive so that the message is drilled home. If you felt like you gave up a little too early this year or in the past on some campaigns, be more dedicated in the New Year;
- Re-examine referrals – Oftentimes, smaller companies may be hesitant when it comes to using referrals for fear of coming off as too aggressive. Quite the opposite, referrals are a great means by which you can add more business. For example, perhaps you provide marketing services to the local realtor in town. In such an event, make sure the realtor passes your information along to individuals interested in buying or renting a home etc. In turn, you can recommend the realtor to any of your clients in need of such services. The bottom line is you’re scratching their back while they scratch yours.
With the New Year just around the corner, make sure your small business marks it with a marketing campaign that leaves you having achieved one of your biggest 2012 resolutions.
About the Author:
Dave Thomas, who covers among other subjects’ small business loans and home based jobs, writes extensively for Business.com – an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.