This is the time of year when many firms are thinking ahead to next year… creating their sales and marketing plans, establishing budgets, thinking about developing new products or services and so on. And you should be doing that – it’s critically important.
But, there are a number of other important – though not quite as ‘sexy’ – things you also need to be doing in the background so that those plans, budgets and products can have the most impact in the new year. This includes…
1) Analysis. Look back at your marketing & sales from the previous year. What worked and what didn’t? Go through all of your analytics, metrics, KPIs, CRM reports and so on to learn. For example… What kind of Subject Lines got the best email ‘open rates?’ What topics on your blog got the highest readership levels? What kinds of social media posts got the most likes, reposts or comments? What was your conversion rate for bids and were there any commonalities among the winners and losers?
Not doing much in the way of tracking your marketing & sales? Then use this month to set-up those basic tracking systems and use them throughout the coming year – so next December, you’ll be in a position to make smarter decisions.
2) Data clean-up. Having clean and complete data records in your CRM is critical for supporting your sales effort, not to mention the efficacy of your email marketing. The easiest way to do this is to export the main fields of data from your CRM – name, title, company, phone, email, address, type of firm – into an Excel file and scan it for errors, omissions, improperly formed email addresses and so on. Two items that can help:
- Pay attention to your email marketing bounce-backs. ‘Soft’ bounces are generally a temporary issue, but ‘hard’ bounces usually mean a bad email address. Follow-up to find out what the new email address is.
- Key an eye on your LinkedIn feed… as client and prospect contacts change jobs, use that information to follow-up and then update your CRM with the new job info.
3) LinkedIn. When the last time you spruced up your LinkedIn profile? Do you need a new head shot or background image? Have you added a ‘summary?’ Are all of the fields complete? Are there any videos or publications you can link to from your profile? Has it been a while since you joined any new groups (new and relevant ones are forming all the time)? Have you started publishing on your profile yet? And don’t forget about your company profile… what kind of shape is it in?
LinkedIn has this neat little tool called the “social selling index.” It shows you how you to compare to others in your industry and across your connections in your use of LinkedIn as a selling tool. To find your SSI, go to: https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi
4) Website. When was the last time you took a serious, objective look at your website? If it’s been more than a couple of years… it’s probably time. Your website is still the number one place that prospective clients will go to do their due diligence on your firm… so it needs to be really good.
- A sharp, modern professional design says something very positive about your firm. Not sure what’s hot in design? Just Google “2018 website design trends.”
- Your navigation needs to be “stupid simple.” Visitors should be able to find whatever they’re looking for easily and logically and with just one or two clicks.
- Make it easy to get in touch with your firm – in the way that your visitors want to get in touch (not just what’s easiest for you). Include your phone, email, an online form, fax, mailing address and, of course, all of your social media sites.
- Missing any key content? Many firms in our industry skip important sections like Our Team (always include photos), News (key happenings at your firm), Why Hire Us (how you’re different than your competitors) or a regularly updated Blog (which showcases your expertise and gives visitors a reason to keep coming back).
5) Editorial calendar. You know the drill. It’s time to write your regularly scheduled blog post, so you sit down at your computer and then… just stare at the screen! “What am I gonna write about today?” Ugh…its nerve-racking! This December, sit down and create an editorial calendar for 2018. Think about what your clients and prospects are interested in, what problems they have and how you can help them solve those problems… and write about that. Or think about trends and technologies in the Market Research industry and in the industries you serve… and write about that. Still not sure? Conduct a simple survey of your clients and prospects and ask them what kinds of topics interest them.
Once you know what you’re going to write about, it’s time to lay it out in a calendar format – what you’re going to write about when. And maybe even who, if writing is a team effort at your firm.
If you really want to do this right… next to each topic that you select, write down the 3-5 key points you’d like the reader to take away after reading the post.
5½) Get smart. Here’s a little bonus tip for December. Find some marketing & sales resources to subscribe to and read through them every day or every week. There are so many good, free ones available (this website included) that committing to reading through a few of them on a regular basis will make you much better at business development heading into 2018.
Not sure where to start? Try this… I use Google Alerts and have search results come to my inbox every morning on topics like ‘sales management,’ ‘marketing strategy’ and ‘email marketing.’ And if you commit to scanning these emails – then reading the relevant articles they link to – it’s like getting a free MBA in marketing & sales.
2018 is just around the corner. Don’t wait until the last minute to start thinking and planning for it… take charge of your marketing & sales and commit to implementing even a few small things that can have a big impact next year.