Are you ready for the New Year? More importantly, is your business ready for the a new year of success? How about your marketing strategy and your website? Well, if you havenít started yet, youíll definitely want to get started. (In case youíre wondering, Gabriella over at Level 343 got me going on the subject of holiday prep for businesses during a Facebook conversation.)
New Year Business Prep
While you likely already have an ultimate plan and goal, you need to create a plan for the next year. Where is your business in terms of your ultimate goal and how will you get it closer to your goal? Define this yearís milestone.
- If you aimed to make $200,000 a year, how close will you get?
- Is there a particular client youíd like to work with, a certain number of a particular product youíd like to sell, or a certain number of regular customers youíd like to have buying from you?
- Will you be expanding or hiring help this year?
- What about sponsorship or donations?
You donít want to be just looking ahead either. You also want to make sure you tie up any loose ends as well.
New Year Marketing Prep
- Get all of your paperwork, receipts, and finances in order now and prepare your filing system for the new year.
- Compare your actual expenses and income to your budget. Will you need to make any changes in your budget for the next year?
- Identify any money-wasters. Some common culprits are things like that online subscription for the emag you never read, or a paid community you havenít visited in 6 months.
- Looking back through your income, was there something that saved you a lot of money or did surprisingly well?
- What about your business structure? Is it meeting the needs of the current market? What are your customers or clients going elsewhere for that you could provide if you made changes to your business model?
- Donít forget to plan thank you cards or gifts for the holiday season to vendors, clients, partners, and others who have made your year great.
Now that youíve got the operational needs and basics of your business in order, itís time to look at your marketing strategy and create one for the next year.
New Year Website Prep
- Examine the market youíve targeted over the last year. Was it the right choice? What difficulties have you encountered when dealing with this market that you hadnít planned on?
- Go through your analytics and customer generated content (emails, comments, etc). What have customers been coming to you for? Are you optimizing for these words?
- Consider how the demands for your products and services change as the holidays near. Use this to your advantage in terms of sales, marketing techniques, linking strategies, etc. Youíll also want to assess your previous holiday campaigns to see what worked and what didnít. Lastly, come up with a plan to harness the holiday traffic and keep them returning after the new year.
- If youíll be changing your business model, youíll need to change your marketing strategy accordingly. If youíre aiming at bigger businesses or organizations, for instance, you may need to generate links and place content in different places, or cover different topics.
- Refresh your social media profiles to ensure theyíre still meeting your needs and those of your customers.
- Since itís the season of giving, consider a contest or giveaway. That being said, be very careful that you donít fall into the contest pit. Lots of other companies will be doing the same thing and gifts will be flying everywhere, so youíll need to make sure your campaign stands out.
- If you run PPC campaigns, youíll want to tweak them to target the products you want to clear out as well as ones that sell better at this time of year. Look at how everything is performing and make adjustments as needed.
How much time have you spent on your website in the last year? If youíre anything like me, itís severely neglected and in dire need of some TLC. The holidays are the perfect time to get startedÖor at least plan out what youíre going to do.
- Check out your design. If it looks like it was made in 1999, and itís not a branding thing, chances are it could benefit from an overhaul.
- Now, look at your main site content. Does it need to be spiffed up? Is it pushing and pulling to sell the items or services youíre focusing on? Now is also a good time to examine the various sales funnels to see if theyíre meeting the needs of the target audience.
- Internal linking is extremely important for SEO and for usability. Go through old posts and add links in where you can, repair or eliminate the broken ones, and combine old posts that arenít quite what they should be. You might even come across some that could use some rewriting or updating to reflect changes that have occurred since they were written.
- Will you be starting a newsletter? Creating a new section on your website? Incorporating new services or resources? Youíll need to add this to your site as well.
Ian Lurie over at Conversation Marketing has some more great holiday preparation tips for you, if youíre interested. What special steps do you take as January creeps closer?