By the time you read this article, calendar year 2016 will be more than 2/3 over. How has it gone for you so far? Have you started thinking about 2017?
Before the year ends and you start scrambling for 2017, now is the time to do a little prep work… a little planning… and a little thinking. To help you get next year off to a strong marketing & sales start, consider implementing these 6 activities…
Take a look at 2016 to date… and do a little measuring. For example, take look at:
- Your Google Analytics numbers: how many people are visiting your website, where did they come from and what pages are they visiting?
- Did you do any email marketing this year? Look at your open rates and click-thru rates to help you understand what kinds of subject lines and topics resonate with your readers.
- How‘s your social media marketing? Are you growing your followers and connections? Are you truly engaging with the marketplace… or do you just have a presence?
- Is your CRM/sales database growing? If so, it’s proof that you’re putting new contacts into the sales funnel.
- From a sales perspective, are you tracking movement through the pipeline? How about conversions… bids vs. wins?
- And look at your revenue several ways: year-to-date, vs. last-year-to-date, by service line and by industry served.
This kind of data will serve as the foundation for your marketing & sales planning for next year.
Clean up your databases. I know… not a very sexy activity, but very important.
- Go through your sales database/CRM and clean up any obvious typos, incomplete records, mis-formed email addresses, etc. Also, get rid of any competitors… or at least keep them clearly segmented.
- Look at the “bounce-backs” from your email marketing to help clean-up your email addresses.
- Compare your LinkedIn contacts to your sales database – it will show you who’s changed companies; most people are pretty good at keeping their LinkedIn profile up to date.
- Keep your social media connections & followers clean, too. One obvious place is with your Twitter followers. If you’ve got a follower that you really don’t want to be there (competitor, spammy or otherwise inappropriate), simply ‘block’ them.
Is it time to spruce up your website? Not a full-blown overhaul… but just a little freshening up…
- Make sure any new services/products are listed on the site.
- Same goes for any new employees, locations, recent news, logos for the clients page, etc.
- Do you have icons on every page for connecting to your social sites?
- Is it time for some new imagery or splashes of color?
- Been a while since you posted to your blog? Get a couple of new ones up there in Q4 of 2016.
- Is your site mobile-friendly? With a large percentage of your website visitors on a hand-held device, make it happen before January.
- Go through an SEO audit… then update your content to match the top keywords and phrases.
Draft a marketing and sales plan for 2017. This can be a pretty big undertaking, but for now…
- At the very least, write down the marketing & sales activities you’ll commit to next year.
- Create a budget and commit to investing in marketing & sales.
- Make sure you’ve got some basic way to measure your activities… so you know what’s working and what’s not.
- And most importantly, put all of these activities into a calendar, assign responsibilities and then share the calendar with all involved. Then hold everyone accountable.
- Note 1: as part of your 2017 plan… commit to “doing something” every day/every week/every month.
- Note 2: as you think about your goals for next year, don’t just focus on the end result… set goals for the activities that will help you achieve the end result. E.g. number of sales calls per week, frequency of social media posts, etc.
If you’re going to send out holiday cards and gifts… get to work on it now. Give yourself plenty of time to come up with something creative and memorable that you know your clients will appreciate.
Lastly, as a way to prepare to be successful with all of the activities above, consider taking your senior leadership on a retreat away from the office. Go to a cabin in the woods and start discussing some of the high-level topics that can significantly impact your business:
- New products or services
- New processes or people
- Why we lost some clients
- Competitive pressure
- New technologies to consider
- Go-to-market strategies
- Level of commitment to marketing & sales
- What you did/didn’t like about what happened in 2016
- Goals/aspirations for 2017
So, even if 2016 was a good year… start working now to make 2017 a GREAT one!