As the new year gets underway, many of us are looking for ways to help 2019 be the best year ever for our business. So here are the five priority areas to focus on this year to set you and your business up for success.
Mind Your Mindset
You may not know that I’m a psychologist (I spent almost 20 years working and consulting with Fortune 100 companies as an Industrial Psychologist). I’ve spent a long time studying how people think, what they believe and feel, and how they act, and then applying that knowledge to help businesses grow. So it’s not surprising that I think checking your mindset is the #1 priority for the year.
We often don’t think or talk about this but it’s the primary thing that will make or break your business.
“Mindset” can refer to something as simple as optimism vs pessimism (I’m an eternal optimist – people tell me I wear rose-colored glasses!). It’s like the well-known Henry Ford quote – “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.”
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.”
Believing something is possible, that you can do it, and that it will work out well is one of the primary differentiators between a successful business and one that just gets by.
Mindset can also be about your relationship with money (many of us don’t charge enough for the work we do), how you think about your customers (are you just trying to get the work done or do you want to truly serve them?), or how you treat your team (are they an expense or a valuable asset?).
But when it comes to your business, the most important mindset issue is around commitment. Either you’re all in or you’re not. And if you aren’t, you have a hobby, not a business.
As a business owner, you must take 100% accountability and responsibility for your success. It’s YOUR business. If you don’t implement something, if someone on your team does something wrong, if something doesn’t go according to plan, it’s your responsibility.
How you respond when things go wrong is what makes the difference between success and failure. Don’t give up at the first sign that something isn’t working – it’s actually good information that you can use to test a different approach. I don’t mean switch gears completely, but do look at exactly what didn’t go according to plan and fix that thing. Then try again.
One mindset issue I see with many small business owners is the belief that they aren’t good enough – they don’t know enough, their product isn’t the absolute best, they’re not outgoing enough, they can’t sell well enough – and so aren’t worth their customers’ trust and money. This belief absolutely cripples your ability to run a successful business.
The fact is that if you invest in your own development and learning (so you know what you’re doing), if you have your customers’ best interests at heart, and if you do your absolute best to serve them, then you ARE good enough!
If you’re true to who you are and offer customers a solution that fixes their problems, your ideal customers will respond to that. Don’t hide yourself. Don’t fear putting yourself out there. This is how you build trust – let them know you so they can grow to like and trust you. YOU are who people buy from, not a corporate entity.
And it’s OK if not everyone likes you or your work. They’re not your customers and never would be, even if you bent over backward to try to appeal to them. Be you.
Plan From The Top Down
When January 1 comes around (or even before), many business owners jump into planning for their upcoming year of marketing efforts – What can we afford to spend on marketing this year? Should we start an Instagram account? When will we update our website?
They’re focused on the details.
Look at the Big Picture First
But a better place to start is with the big picture – What are you trying to achieve this year? Why? Get really clear on that before looking at anything else.
Then take a look at how all the things you’ve been doing to market your company work together to bring in business. Know your numbers at each step in the sales process or funnel. Where are things working? Breaking down? Are some things not generating any return? Ditch the things that aren’t working and focus on those that are.
Create a Marketing Calendar
Next, create a marketing calendar – What will you do each month? What will you hire out? How will each activity help you meet your goals? Then stick to it!! Hit or miss marketing is just like throwing your money away.
Less is More
But as you’re doing that, keep in mind that less is more – 80% of your results probably come from 20% of your efforts. There are so many things you COULD be doing but only a few will really move the needle. You can’t be everywhere – spreading yourself or your team too thin only causes things to fall through the cracks.
All the advice you hear about constant “hustle”, being “everywhere” or “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying” is total BS. For most business owners, especially local or service area businesses, that’s just a recipe for burnout.
Be strategic in focusing on the 20% of activities that have the biggest impact. It allows you to focus on quality and doing things to the best of your ability. And because of that, your business will grow.
And if it’s not in your wheelhouse, ask yourself whether it’s worth learning how to do it yourself, or better to outsource it (although be careful with this – you have to at least know the basics before you can judge whether the person you hired is doing a good job!).
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself – be realistic and honest about what you can and cannot do.
Use Proven Methods
Things in the online world change quickly, but some things are proven to still work extremely well, even in 2019.
Email Marketing (Without Spamming)
Email marketing still has the best return on investment (ROI) of any online marketing method – if you do it right. Consistency is key – keep showing up every week or every month with quality messaging that your customers find valuable. Consistently sending emails once a month is better than more frequently but inconsistently. Train customers and prospects to expect and want to hear from you!
What To Do Before You Hit "Send"
A FREE checklist to help you send emails that bring in business
A website that attracts and converts your ideal customers is a necessity. Even if you have a great social media presence, prospects will still want to check out your website to make sure you’re legit.
Facebook and Instagram are still the most cost-effective ways to advertise online, although costs are increasing. However, this doesn’t always work as well for local businesses (like a garden center, lawn mowing service, or tree care company) as it does for companies with a wider audience.
The key with ads is that the better you understand your ideal customers, the more you can control costs by better focusing your targeting, creative (e.g., images, videos), and ad types to appeal directly to them.
Think about what your customers/prospects look like at different points in the customer journey and target ads at those segments because they have different pain points. Someone who doesn’t know they have a problem (unaware) is very different from someone who knows what their problem is and that there’s a solution out there, they just haven’t found it yet. Create different ads for each segment, rather than one catch-all ad for everyone.
Videos & Stories
Videos and stories are huge and only increasing. Facebook Live, Facebook and Instagram stories, IGTV, and YouTube all use video to tell a story and build that “know, like, and trust” factor. It’s all about relationships, even if they’re just virtual.
The trend has been toward shorter videos (under 2 minutes) but you should test that for your own business. It’s not too late to get into video and it doesn’t have to be fancy – using your smartphone is just fine.
Donald Miller's book ‘Building a Story Brand’ is a good read and an excellent resource for learning how to use stories in your marketing.
Things change constantly so you need to stay on top of it. I don’t mean being on the bleeding edge of technology, strategy, tools and tactics. But do stay up-to-date on the changes that affect what you do and how.
- Subscribe to a few newsletters, blogs, YouTube channels and/or podcasts that keep you updated on the things that are important to you and your business. My monthly newsletter, The GROWth Report, is an excellent resource!
- Use a content aggregator or RSS feed (Feedly is a good option) so you can see everything all in one place.
- Take an online course that teaches you exactly how to do something that will make a difference for your business.
- Attend conferences focused on your area of specialty or the topics you want to learn. Not only will you learn something new, you’ll also be able to learn from fellow attendees and maybe even develop new relationships. I often learn more from fellow attendees than I do from the speakers!
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Don’t Assume – Measure & Test Everything
Online marketing is in constant flux. Just because something worked last year doesn’t mean it will work this year. The only way to know what’s truly effective is to have measurement tools in place to really see what’s working and what isn’t.
Do you know your metrics for the following:
- Email delivery, open, click and conversion rates?
- Website visitors and conversions (e.g., called you, completed an online form, made an online purchase, visited your store)? Which pages they visit, how long they stay, and what they do on those pages?
- Impressions, click-through rate, cost per click, conversions, and sales from online ads, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads?
- Where calls to your business originated? For example, did the person call you because they saw a specific ad, read your email newsletter, found your website through organic search, saw a post on social media, or clicked on your Google My Business listing?
- The dollar value of sales generated through each online channel and the cost for those sales? In other words, do you know your ROI for each type of online marketing?
Without those metrics in place, you have no idea whether or not online marketing is working. It’s like disabling the speedometer, odometer and fuel gauge on a car – you don’t know when you’ll run out of gas, get a speeding ticket or how far you’ve gone!
So before you spend any more on marketing, put the appropriate measurement systems in place! Then you can start testing different options to see what works best.
Finally, don’t rely on what you’ve always done. Try mixing it up a little.
- For example, split test your email subject line, send time, personalization or content.
- Try sending website visitors to a landing page that addresses a different problem (or aspect of a problem) than your site currently addresses.
- Run Facebook video ads instead of using a static image.
- Use Instagram Stories to show what’s going on behind the scenes.
- Add call tracking to your website.
So now that the year is underway, what are YOU doing to set yourself up for success? Let us know in the comments below!